You can always tell when a movie star's career is in desperate need of some type of a jump start: they return to the one role that made them a star in the first place. Ten years ago, Eddie Murphy attempted this with Beverly Hills Cop III.and Sigourney Weaver tried to recapture career magic with Alien 3. Now, it's Wesley Snipes turn to attempt to save himself from the direct-to-video abyss with Blade: Trinity, the third and, if we're lucky, final installment of his financially successful vampire hunter series.
The Vampire Nation (not to be confused with Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation), led by Danica Talos (a slumming Parker Posey), hatches a plan to frame Blade (Snipes) in a series of brutal killings that are plaguing the city. When his mentor, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), meets his fate during a raid on their hideout by FBI agents, Blade must join forces with the Nightstalkers. They are a group of human vampire hunters that include former vampire Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and Whistler's daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel), in a battle whose trail leads directly to the Big Daddy bloodsucker, Dracula (Dominic Purcell).
Supply enough storyline to fill a paragraph while minding the gaps in narrative and logic, make sure the action scenes are edited well enough to deliver a visceral jolt and give your heroes plenty of one liners (lame or otherwise) to deliver when they kill off the hordes of baddies that come their way. A tried and true formula that worked well for the series' first film, directed by Stephen Norrington, but not so much in Guillermo Del Torro's 2002 sequel. Norrington's film was no classic, but it had enough going for it to be a fun night out.
David S Goyer, writer of all three Blade features and now taking on directorial duties, does a fine job in 'adapting'(read: stealing) the style and atmosphere of the first film and ignoring most of the second one. Blade: Trinity is definitely as slick as the original, crammed wall to wall with videogame-esque action and violence, backed up by a non-stop techno and hip-hop soundtrack and edited with the Short Attention Span generation in mind.
All of that would be fine if Goyer bothered to handle the action and story the same way Norrington did six years ago. His script has the promise of interesting story threads, but those are sidelined early on by underdevelopment, bargain-basement dialogue (save one great joke at the expense of George W Bush), dumb secondary characters who get too much screen time, a robotic performance by its lead and plot holes big enough to fit Transylvania through. I was more than willing to overlook most of this if the fights, gore and visual effects would deliver. This is, after all, why you go to see a movie such as this in the first place.
But Blade: Trinity fails in those areas as well. The fights are shot way too close up to get any sense of visceral excitement or coherency. The visual effects haven't advanced much since the series' debut in 1998 and the bloodletting is merely average for a film of this type. It's there but hardly enough of a factor to base a recommendation on.
Jessica Biel and Ryan Reynolds, the new, young blood (pardon the pun) of the series, do manage to give the film the small bits of life to be found, Biel with her gorgeous, ass-kicking presence and Reynolds with his sharp (and desperately needed) comic timing. A lot of Hannibal's off-handed (and off-color) remarks are very funny and showed that someone on the set had enough common sense to realize the absurdity of what they were involved in. One only wishes that Reynolds had given some of his one-liners and timing to co-star Snipes.
The film makers claim that this will be the last in the Blade series, although the door is left wide open, should this make enough money, for another installment. My advice to those involved is to quit while you are, um, ahead. Blade: Trinity isn't the worst film of 2004 nor is it the worst film to deal with vampires this year. Those honors belong to the astoundingly awful Van Helsing. Nevertheless, It would be wise to drive a stake through the franchise's heart and call it a day.