Run Time: 87 Mins
What To Expect: By the numbers Die Hard clone. Cheap. Watchable.
At one point in the 1990s Antonio Banderas was somewhat of an action star, before moving off to other things. Now it looks like he’s circling back around in this direction albeit with mixed results. His appearance in The Expendables 3 was kind of cringe-inducing and annoying (Banderas is one of the first semi-strong return rumors for The Expendables 4), Automata and Black Butterfly haven’t been too exceptional either. This week though a decent entry comes through for him and we’re reminded of an age-old action movie lesson; when in doubt, make a Die Hard clone.
Banderas plays Eddie, a down on his luck ex-Marine Corps captain who is a quiet but intense man looking for a job. After some pleading he lands a night shift job at a shopping mall in a deadbeat town in an area with shocking murder rates, which explains why the mall has a team of five (lazy misfits) also working security. Elsewhere, Ben Kingsley plays Charlie, a scumbag extraordinaire killer, leading a team of mercenaries who are hunting a 12 year old girl in the witness protection program. On a stormy night and on Eddie’s first night on the job, the girl takes refuge at the mall, and Charlie surrounds the complex with his men, bent on leaving no survivors inside. Unfortunately for Charlie, ‘Rambo’ syndrome takes control of Eddie and the bodies start piling up.
If you’ve seen any of the Die Hard movies, or either of the Assault on Precinct 13 movies, you’ve seen this box of clichés before. But sometimes a rip off isn’t a bad thing. When it comes to VOD movies, often the best ones are action movies that keep a serviceable plot, keep things basic and hire some decent actors. That’s pretty much what’s going on here, it’s sort of Die Hard in a shopping mall, featuring Banderas, Kingsley and Cung Le (as the heavy/henchman).
It’s not a great movie or even a particularly good movie. I mean the shopping mall looks pretty fucking fake, the entire thing is obviously constructed out of wood and sprayed with bright colors and if this sounds like Avi Lerner’s methodology, well, it is a Millennium movie. The reason for this is that a lot of shit gets shot up and building a set that’s probably less than $100,000 out of wood was probably the only option. Another thing that is maybe less forgivable is the big fight scene between Cung Le and Banderas… poorly shot, man. While shaking cam syndrome is absent through most of the movie, this mediocre showdown was worsened by poor direction.
Still, this movie is decent for something with a budget of $15,000,000. It has nice touches here and there, such as bloodsquibs and even better, smoking bloodsquibs. In keeping melodrama and bullshit to a relative minimum, it’s well paced and its lead stars, Kingsley and Banderas, don’t half-ass it. The former loves playing a lowlife and the latter carries a decent alpha male. That type of thing helps when you’re indulging in a C-movie, as opposed to certain actors showing up for their paydays with minimal screen time but maximum contempt. Security is one to watch this summer if you’re stuck.