Yet another entry into the expanding body of work, so to speak, of WWE Studios, Bending The Rules once again tests the acting talents of selective pro wrestlers. Outside the ring, that is. Which in the case of Adam ‘Edge’ Copeland spotlights a likable personality on screen. But in terms of dramatic moves, is far from delivering a knockout.
Directed by Artie Mandelberg (WWE’s Inside Out), Bending The Rules is the second movie within a week – along with Seeking Justice – to center attention on a crime-ridden New Orleans. The ring to screen indictable cop comedy stars Copeland as Nick Blades, a thoroughly corrupt detective with an unfathomable heart of gold.
Blades, whose fashion statement more likely suggests a beach boy heading to an afternoon of surfing, is instead on his way to court to stand trial for multiple acts of police misconduct. Where he proceeds to giddily butt heads with the clumsy goofball novice Assistant DA, Theo Gold (Jamie Kennedy).
Essentially laughing off the trial proceedings, a ‘technically’ on administrative leave Blades takes the opportunity until the next court date, to engage in his habitual illegal methods of tracking down assorted suspects anyway. And with the exasperated and bungling DA never far behind.
Whether or not Bending The Rules works, will depend on the audience taste for comedic topics like police brutality, mental illness, death row execution by lethal injection, recreational cop tasering of civilians, and racial profiling in the hood all honed for laughs. Along with a perpetually irritating, big screen diva in decline and nagging shrewish mom of Kennedy’s wimped out DA, seemingly badly impersonating Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond. And who happens to be played by Jessica Walters, that infamous femme fatale stalker back in 1971, who got Clint Eastwood to make her day in Play Misty For Me.
Meanwhile, the other female co-stars – Alicia Witt and Jennifer Esposito – appear to have been recruited for the movie as good cop/bad cop afterthoughts. And in a rather incongruous setup, rapid fire legal lingo law enforcement shop talk not readily making sense to folks outside the biz, is sprinkled with sporadic lame punchlines. Which presumably can be credited to Bending The Rules screenwriter Dylan Schaffer. Whose take on outlaw culture originated in his gig as criminal defense lawyer in over fifty murder indictments for his day job.
And, as likewise counsel for a bunch of notorious cases like the San Francisco dog mauling scandal, and the Gotti/Gambino family trials. All well and good, but hey. A courtroom is not exactly a movie theater.
1 1/2 stars