Action Movie Fanatix Review: The Stranger

His Past Was Taken. His Vengeance Is Fueled.

Starring: Steve Austin, Erica Cerra, Adam Beach

Director: Rob Lieberman

2010  |  90 Minutes  |  Rated R

“Don’t you understand?  You help me, you help yourself.” – Mason Reese

The Stranger is like Steve Austin’s attempt at a Bourne Identity type spy thriller.  The story is very similar but The Stranger falls short of the Bourne standard in every measurable area.

The Stranger (Steve Austin) is a man with no recollection of his name or history.  He finds that he is being pursued by the Russian mob as well as the FBI and fights back.  Slowly, he begins to remember what has happened to him.  With each fight he gets a piece of his memory back.

Definitely not an original story here.  It is an imitation of many films that have come before.  The Bourne films seem to be the main influence but there are too many film clichés here to count.

I actually found Steve Austin’s acting to be pretty decent (all things considered).  I found it to be a bit more engaging than many of his other roles.  As The Stranger Austin feels less like he is playing his Stone Cold character than any of his other movies and that is what caught my attention here.

From the beginning The Stranger has a very low budget feel.  The shot quality and direction are pretty subpar even for a DTV Steve Austin release.  It bugged me at first but it either got better or I forgot that it felt a little cheap.

The story, while mildly interesting, just isn’t told very well.  The poor direction and story telling result in a lot of confusion throughout the movie.  You could try to BS that it was intended to bring us inside The Stranger’s head but it is obvious that Mr. Lieberman just isn’t very good at his craft yet.

The action is OK at times but in between the action are convoluted scenes of The Stranger trying to figure out who he really is.  Austin mostly relies on his pro wrestling abilities which usually don’t translate all that well to the big (or little in this case) screen.  It seems unlikely that a secret agent would have been trained in pro wrestling versus true martial arts but, I guess, I’m no expert here.

That isn’t even addressing the fact that these are some of the most poorly trained FBI agents in any movie… EVER.  This is maybe worse than The Capital Conspiracy.  There are so many shots fired at The Stranger from close range that never connect that they have to be shooting with their eyes closed.  It’s ridiculous.

The final fight scene between Steve Austin’s character and Mason (Adam Beach) is the best of the movie.  It still leaves a lot to be desired but it served its purpose.  At the end we find out that The Stranger now has a hit list and has only taken out one of them (Mason Reese).  Kind of a shame for an action movie to not let us witness that series of hits even if it would have just been in the credits or in a quick montage to close out the movie.

Overall The Stranger is a mildly enjoyable way to pass a little time.  Just don’t go in expecting Steve Austin as Jason Bourne.

Side Note:  WTF is with The Stranger’s real name?  Tom Tomashevsky?  Sounds like Stan Lee created a Polish super villain or something.