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WAZ
cast: Stellan Skarsgård, Melissa George, Selma Blair, Tom Hardy, and Ashley Walters

director: Tom Shankland

100 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Contender DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Gary McMahon
Back in the 1980s, there seemed to be a brief period when rape/ revenge films were the latest hot property. Death Wish (1974) and its sequels probably started the ball rolling, opening the door for films as diverse as Abel Ferrara's tour-de-force Angel Of Vengeance (aka: Ms. 45) and the atrocious - in every sense of the word - I Spit on Your Grave (aka: Day Of The Woman). WAZ in many ways almost feels like a throwback to those giddy days. The film uses the grainy washed-out look of David Fincher's Se7en, and the Saw films, and attempts to find the social relevance that fires these movies. Unfortunately it fails on both counts.

Helen Westcott, a rookie cop (played by Melissa George) and her older, wiser partner Eddie Argo (Stellan Skarsgård) are drawn into a seedy murder investigation when bodies start turning up with parts of an algebraic equation carved into them (hence the W delta Z of the title). The revelations which follow are tawdry, contrived and really rather tasteless. Skarsgård sleepwalks through his role, while George once again shows that she's a fine, fiery actress who deserves much better. The wonderful Selma Blair drops by to act everyone else off the screen - her performance is so good that she practically embarrasses the rest of the film.

WAZ tries hard to be a serious film about horrific issues, but it is too heavy-handed and exploitative to hold any dramatic weight and far too grim to be entertaining. A lighter touch might have transformed this into a great little exploitation film; a modicum of restraint could have helped it achieve more noble goals. As it stands, WAZ is stuck between a rock and a hard place, and at times is quite uncomfortable to watch - for all the wrong reasons.
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