Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Final Score

School Of Hard Knox

Final Score
UK 2018 Directed by Scott Mann
Signature Films  Blu Ray Zone B

I tried to catch Final Score in the cinema when it came out over here but even though I was actively looking out for it, I couldn’t. Why? I honestly don’t even think it came out for more than a day over here in the UK. So, yeah, of course... why should a big Hollywood style action thriller made with UK money be released properly in the country in which it was produced eh? Bloody Sky is probably the answer to that, who seem to have had a hand in funding this project. So the blame for this horrible lack of a proper cinema release for this lands with them, I would guess.

The film itself? Well, what can I say... I like David Bautista and think he’s a pretty great actor. In this film he plays Michael Knox, an ex-army private operator who goes to see his friend’s wife and daughter in London every once in a while, the back story being that his friend lost his life serving with him and he is taking care of his family whenever he gets the chance. So this movie is set in London, in West Ham’s old stadium, actually, where the last game they played there (in fictional form with probably more explosions and drama than real life) is the setting, as Michael takes his friend’s daughter Danni, played by Lara Peake from Spaceship (reviewed here) to the football match. Unbeknownst to him, a Russian warmonger played by Ray Stevenson, the villain of the piece, knows that his ‘defected believed dead’ brother, played by Pierce Brosnan, is watching the match between West Ham and a Russian team and so he locks down the stadium, packs it with explosives and holds it to ransom, threatening to blow it up if the powers that be in the UK don’t give him his brother (who has had plastic surgery after his faked death).

So it’s up to Knox to save the day, try and communicate with the outside world (the cell phone signal in the stadium has been knocked out) and somehow keep his friend’s daughter safe while taking out the bad guys. And if you’re thinking this sounds a little like Die Hard but set in an English football stadium then, ‘bingo’, that’s exactly what this is.

Knowing that, of course, doesn’t make it any less entertaining and though it’s not as cleverly written as most of the Die Hard franchise, the director manages to serve up a fairly serviceable action movie which, even at almost two hours, doesn’t feel overly long and also showcases Bautista’s excellent acting skills, combined with a screen presence which makes you believe that this guy is perfectly capable of doing this kind of thing in real life. Which is always half the battle with the casting in these things.

Actually, everyone I’ve already mentioned is really not bad in this although Brosnan is a little underused, coming into play for just the last third of the movie. There’s some nice comic relief moments from Amit Shah too, as Faisel, Knox’s reluctant sidekick who does prove at least a little more competent than you’d think on the odd occasion.

And, yeah... there’s not too much to say about this one. The novelty of seeing something that looks a lot like an American action movie where everyone is mostly going ‘gor blimey, stone the crows guv’nor’ doesn’t really get old here... and no, not literally those words or accents but bits of this do feel very ‘extra British’. Like the scene where the head of the police force punches a special agent for calling English football soccer.

One thing that is nice in some of the action sequences is the placement of the camera just behind the cast as they look around with their guns aimed about them... kind of like a third person shooter video game along the lines of Tomb Raider. This was a nice way of adding interest to some of the scenes and it gives the film a little more edge in places.

There are some ‘leap of faith’ suspension of disbelief moments here though, too. For instance, up until a certain scene right near the end of the film, nobody in the audience watching the game... nor the players... are aware that anything out of the ordinary is going on. Even in scenes where Bautista crash lands on a bike on the roof of part of the audience seating or when he swings across the pitch to land on the giant video monitor... the crowd seem strangely unaware that there is anything amiss.

This doesn’t really hurt Final Score though and while I wouldn’t say it’s the best action movie I’ve seen, Bautista does well in carrying the movie and, well, like I said earlier, it’s entertaining enough. Possibly not one for people who don’t like action cinema but I certainly had a good time with it and I hope Bautista keeps getting more starring roles because, as anyone who’s seen him in the futuristic, medical safe house movie Hotel Artemis (reviewed here) should know, he’s actually quite an intelligent actor and, combined with his striking screen presence, I think Hollywood are only beginning to scratch the surface of just how good this guy can be. One to watch if you want a quick action fix.

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