(R) 3 1/2 starsPaul F. P. Pogue
It's a couple of years since Blade 2, and Blade the Vampire Hunter (Wesley Snipes, wearing his ever-present red-lined trenchcoat, which deserves its own supporting actor credit) is beginning to get worn down by the neverending war against the darkness. He's becoming reckless, approaching every mission like a suicide run. Sooner or later it's going to catch up with him - and it does when Dracula shows up.
This time around, Blade is surrounded by many more human characters that add a leavening influence to Snipes' stoicism. Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds and Natasha Lyonne join the mythology as the Night Stalkers, a team of vampire hunters who rescue Blade from certain doom and join him on his endeavors.
Of all the Blade films, this has the best sense of identity. The first one was a vaguely generic vampire film, the second a very good Guillermo Del Toro monster movie, but this is an all-out geekfest - leaving no doubt that this is a Marvel superhero movie. Nerdbait runs rampant, including many more characters from the comics, Count Chocula, a Lost Boys T-shirt and Dracula vibrators. It's steeped deeply enough in vampire myth that viewers who aren't much interested in bloodsuckers will find themselves turned off, but for anyone up for horror, action and fangs, it's a treat.
Like the previous films, the plot's a bit dicey and shaky - something about Parker Posey bringing back Dracula to finish off humanity for good - but it has supercool action scenes of Wesley Snipes kicking everyone's ass, which is the reason we're all here, right? It doesn't have any sequences that top the opening club scene in Blade, but it comes close, and to be fair, nothing in the series has yet topped the first five minutes of the first movie.
Also, it has vampire puppy dogs doing kissy-face with Triple H, and I can pretty much guarantee you won't see THAT again for a while.
As wisecracking Hannibal King, Reynolds doesn't so much steal the show as commit outright armed robbery. Jessica Biel's Abigail Whistler is pretty much a generic cutout straight from Central Tough Chick Casting (see also: Kate Beckinsale), but she adds a certain flair to the role, including her use of a compound bow and other weapons chosen solely on the basis of their neatness.
As a director, David S. Goyer (writer of the entire series, on his first outing behind the camera) finds his own pace, distinctive from the previous films: very gritty, less neon, almost no slow-mo. He's worked out that slow-mo is virtually a dead form, and so most of the action scenes are shot either full speed or speeded up.
The conclusion leaves plenty of openings for future outings, especially with the Night Stalkers, but it also draws all extant plot threads to a close with the promise of a new beginning. Altogether, it's a greatly entertaining action yarn and a worthy finish to the trilogy.