If the recent High Heat represents a kind of floor for a DTV genre work — some perfect okay action courtesy of a game cast with a weak screenplay but professional production values — Black Warrant resides somewhere in the basement. Wholly generic, the film is a paint-by-numbers espionage tale that’s barely a movie. It’s more a sentient tax-shelter or a vacation for the cast where cameras happened to be present. Sorta kinda “directed” by Tibor Takacs, best known for cult horror movie The Gate but now mostly responsible for Hallmark Channel movies, Black Warrant goes through the motions with little-to-no flair. Everyone here seems exhausted, especially an aged Tom Berenger. He plays Nicky, a septuagenarian who lives on a house boat and drinks away his afternoons. When old pal/CIA spook Larusso (Jeff Fahey) comes calling, it’s revealed that Nicky used to be an assassin, and the government needs him back to clean up an old mess. Meanwhile, DEA agent Anthony Van Owen (Cam Gigandet) is tracking down a money launderer who was responsible for the death of his partner. Anthony finds his suspect and places him in protective custody, eager for the criminal to testify against his nefarious contacts in the underworld. But the launderer is Nicky’s first target, leading to an awkwardly funny scene where an obviously infirm Berenger very slowly assembles a sniper rifle, takes out his target, and ambles away without an ounce of urgency. Of course, this places him on a collision course with Anthony, who is now determined to catch this mysterious killer. Meanwhile, Anthony investigates a wealthy businessman who is on the market for a new weapon that can control entire power grids (kind of like an EMP, except they never use the term and visualize the doomsday device as an app with an on/off button).
And… there’s not much else to Black Warrant, as the film wastes quite a bit of time on a burgeoning romance between Anthony and a waitress who helps him surveil some targets. Nicky takes out a few more targets in increasingly bland ways, before a late-act twist reveals a hitherto unknown connection between Nicky and Anthony. It doesn’t make much sense, but then that doesn’t really matter here. Everything is uninspired, the infrequent and brief action scenes barely choreographed, the actors ranging in quality from “at least they’re awake’”to “visibly irritated to be here.” Endless coverage is haphazardly cut together, occasionally giving the impression that the actors weren’t in the same place at the same time even as they are in the same small room. The film sputters to its conclusion, hitting every beat that you’d expect en route to a happy ending that has the audacity to suggest a potential sequel. This isn’t a case of so-bad-it’s-good so much as a case of this-shouldn’t-exist. There’s no reason to ever watch or think about Black Warrant again. Hopefully the cast at least got a mortgage payment out of this regrettable debacle.