“Maximum Impact” is a dopey international thriller that’s fully aware of how dumb it is, This doesn’t make it a good movie, but it does make it easier to sit through.
Written by Ross LaManna (best-known for the original “Rush Hour”) and directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (“Romeo Must Die”), “Maximum Impact” stars Russian action/adventure heroes Alexander Nevsky and Yevgeniy Stychkin as glib FSB agents, working with the CIA to prevent an international incident during a secret summit.
The American side of the story features familiar faces, with Eric Roberts as the secretary of State, Tom Arnold as one of his aides, and Kelly Hu and Alphonso McAuley as bickering CIA rivals. Mark Dacascos plays a fading martial arts movie star turned crime boss, while William Baldwin plays the man orchestrating the evil from a distance (in a performance that’s literally phoned-in).
An overstuffed plot finds room for Danny Trejo as yet another shady power player, plus a story line exploring the secretary of State’s granddaughter’s dangerous crush on a global pop idol. It’s like Bartkowiak assembled an action picture using other movies’ outtakes, stitched together with scenes where the characters poke fun at the story they’re in.
The movie relies more on lighthearted banter than on action sequences, and everyone involved seems to be having a great time. Their joviality isn’t exactly infectious, but it’s preferable to Z-grade trash that takes itself too seriously.
Running time: 1 hour, 49 minutes.
Playing: Starts Sept. 28, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills