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Black Water

Black Water: A Whole Lot of Sexism, and a Little Bit of Originality

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  • Dolph LundgrenJasmine Waltz...
  • Action & AdventureDrama
  • Pasha Patriki
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Cairo 360
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Black Water: A Whole Lot of Sexism, and a Little Bit of Originality

Action films are home to stunts and heroic acts that amaze audiences and captivate every ounce of their attention. There is a catch, of course: audiences need to believe that these impossible acts are somehow possible. For this to happen, the film’s hero needs to be presented and developed in a manner that makes audiences believe that he/she is genuinely capable of achieving the impossible. In Black Water it is an impossible thing to believe that someone of Jean Claude Van Damme’s age can perform these stunts. 

Black Water is about special Agent Wheeler (Van Damme) who is held captive on an officially non-existent government submarine. Wheeler is tortured in an effort to extract information from him about the whereabouts of a secret device. As Wheeler tries to escape, he realises that some of his co-agents and supervisors have switched sides and are selling information to the highest bidder. Wheeler is helped by new recruit on the submarine, Agent Taylor (Jasmine Waltz), and fellow prisoner Marco (Dolph Lundgren).

The plot is interesting mainly due to the film’s setting. The main issue, however, is its typicality. Good guy discovers other good guys are not so good and they fight; been there done that like a million times. Even worse, is the fact that the director thinks he can fool the audience into thinking these action scenes are believable. Jean-Claude Van Damme is a very strong man and a great action actor star, but come on, the kicks, punches, and jumps are just too much. The issue is not with Van Damme himself, it’s with the writers of the action scenes. 

Jean Claude Van Damme’s acting is not in question here, he did his part, and even added as much charm as possible to the bland script. Even if his age slowed him down in the action scenes, it’s the editors’ and director’s job to make sure that he is not shown on screen in the way he was. 

Jasmine Waltz’s character was somewhat submissive, even if there were attempts to hide that with phrases like “I’ll blow your brains out,” among other lines. The fact remains that she was the only female officer on board. She was the one who emotionally walked out of the investigation, and she was the one used as a decoy for distraction. The film industry should be passed this female stereotype by now; seeing this in the year 2018 is very unsettling. Waltz’s acting was mediocre, but was definitely downgraded by her character’s submissive nature. 

Dolph Lundgren was especially charismatic and charming; his scenes were one of the best ones in the film and he added some taste to the bland script, but his charm couldn’t save this feature. For Van Damme and Lundgren fans, this film is a major must-watch. But, for anyone who thinks action films actually need to be believable, this is not the film for you.


Like This? Try

Universal Soldier (1992), Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009), Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012), The Expendables 2 (2012).

360 Tip

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Patrick Killpatrick appeared together in Death Warrant (1990).

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