Written, produced and starring one-time US chat show host Keenen Ivory Wayans, Most Wanted is essentially The Fugitive with a low budget and an even lower concept - a run-of-the-mill, man-on-the-run yarn. And although it's just about watchable, it has "straight to video" written all over it.
Wayans plays Sgt James Dunn, a decorated Gulf War vet due to be executed for killing a superior officer. En route to prison, he is sprung by an ultra-covert assassination squad led by gruff Lt Col Grant Casey (Jon Voight in hammy Anaconda mode). Voight offers Dunn his freedom in exchange for one assignment - the offing of a reclusive industrialist (Robert Culp) who sells biological weapons on the black market.
The fugitive reluctantly agrees, but on the day of the hit it's The First Lady, accompanying the industrialist at a public event, who is killed - by another sniper. Dunn has, of course, been set up, and is forced to go on the run. Naturally, he's pursued by the entire LA police force, not to mention members of the public, who are quite excited about the $10 million reward. His only hope is shapely doctor Jill Hennessy, who has conveniently captured the real sniper on video.
As an action thriller, Most Wanted is distinctly lacking in the action and thrills departments, and it's hard to care for a character you know so little about. The film's main problem is Wayans' shallow screenplay. Bereft of originality or logic, it's a patchwork quilt heavily embroidered with scenes taken from a dozen other chase thrillers. And - with one exception - America's most wanted man slips in and out of public places without being recognised. To his credit, Wayans does provide one or two decent gags, and the film's pace has suitable urgency. But on the evidence of this and the equally forgettable Glimmer Man and Low Down Dirty Shame, Wayans has some way to go to live up to the title of his latest effort.
A derivative thriller that's not exciting enough to warrant six quid at the multiplex. As yet, Wayans hasn't the charisma as an actor or the skill as a writer, though he may come good with practice. Until then, you're better off waiting for the video.