Incoming – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: several extremely dangerous terrorists are captured and put into a secure prison on a space station. There, they are interrogated for five years. When a crew, including a new doctor, go for a routine monthly check-up of the prisoners, the prisoners escape and the crew must fight to prevent the terrorist crashing the space station into Earth and starting a third world war. 

Is it any good?: Incoming is awful and has very few redeeming qualities. It is, at least, in focus and is mercifully short but beyond that, there is really very little to recommend this film. An utter turd. 

Spoiler territory: Big Ben is blown up by a terrorist group, The Wolf Pack. Sounds more like the name of a pub, in fact…I digress, the Wolf Pack leader, Argun (Vahidin Prelic) is sitting in a dingy, spartan apartment, watching the news on a laptop – no furniture but perfect wifi. Priorities. – when the police burst into the apartment and arrest him. 

Five years later, Argun is woken by a voice shouting his name. The voice is Kingsley (Lukas Loughran), the jailer and torturer. He wants to know where Alpha, the elusive leader of the Wolf Pack, is. 

Argun says he does not know. Kingsley blast him with steam. Argun screams a lot in his tiny cell. He then plays loud heavy metal music into the cell. Argun keeps screaming. The music is, admittedly, pretty bad. Kingsley puts on some porn to entertain himself. 

Kingsley’s enjoyment is briefly interrupted by a transmission from Hemmings (Dominic Power) of MI6. He wants to know how the interrogation is going. Apparently, Argun is close to breaking. Hemmings is worried about international relations, especially as Kingsley managed to push all the other countries interrogators out of the space station, leaving him solely in charge. 

Kingsley voices concerns about a woman coming as part of the crew for the monthly check-up of the prisoners. Hemmings tells him that Reiser (Scott Adkins) okayed it. 

On a shuttle bound for the space station, are Reiser, pilot Bridges (Aaron McCusker) and the doctor, Stone (Michelle Lehane). Reiser and Bridges are quite blasé about the trip, having done it many times before. Stone marvels at the majesty of space. I suppose one would. They reach the space station. 

Stone is told about the six prisoners and that Kingsley is the only person looking after them, which is how he likes it. After voicing some concerns about the human rights of the prisoners, Stone is taken by Kingsley to the examination room. She is not too impressed with the room. Kingsley tells her that she is not to reveal any information to the prisoners. 

Argun is the first prisoner brought to her. Bridges and Reiser watch the doctor via video. Bridges asks what would happen if the doctor got overpowered. Reiser tells him they are all expendable. Argun tells Stone that he has a record of all the torture that has been meted out to him. Kingsley cuts the session short, dragging Argun back to his cell. 

A furious Stone confronts Reiser. She tells him the prisoners are being tortured. Reiser acts as if he had no idea and demands that Kingsley explain himself. Bridges tells them that he is going to prepare for departure. 

Stone, left alone, goes and talks to Argun to ask him about the records he told her about. Of course, it turns out to be a ruse and Argun overpowers her and escapes. He frees the other prisoners, the rest of the Wolf Pack. 

Kingsley returns to the control centre and sees that all of the prisoners are free. He sounds the alarm, no idea to whom seeing as they are in space. More practically, the three men arm themselves and go after the prisoners. 

With no firearms on the space station, all they have are taser guns. and cattle prods. They face off against Argun and his five cohorts; Idris (Alaa Safi), Kunta (Milan Kovacevic), Doku (Arkie Reece), Eibek (Vladimir Aleksic) and Bolat (Milan Jovanovic Strongman). 

Reiser, Kingsley and Bridges face off against them. Outnumbered two to one, the three are forced to flee, locking a door behind them. They find Stone in Argun’s cell. Kingsley is furious, blaming her for the whole situation. 

Argun and his crew search for the men, even though they saw where they ran off to. They come across a window and realise they are in space. They end up in the control centre and Argun tells them that they need to take the crew hostage. 

Bridges asks Reiser about the capture of Argun. Reiser is less than forthcoming but Bridges works out that Argun is Alpha. Kingsley, who has been torturing the man for five years and obviously is not that bright, is stunned. 

He goes a little crazy, especially when he realises they had him interrogating the prisoners pointlessly for over three years. 

He breaks out of the room that the four of them are holed-up in and is promptly captured by Argun and his thugs. They are more than happy to receive him, wanting to repay him for their five years of torture.

Quite where he thought he was running off to is anybody’s guess. Anyhoo, Argun and a couple of the others hiss threats of retribution at him before Idris has an epiphany. 

Outside of the control room, Bridges, Reiser and Stone are looking for supplies. Stone finds some bottled water. Reiser takes a wrench and makes weapons because….meanwhile, Bridges and Stone have an inane conversation about astronauts and Top Gun maybe. 

Reiser brings back the makeshift weapons and they prepare to try and get to the power room in order to get a message back to Earth. Back in the control room, Idris is telling them that he can pilot the shuttle and crash the space station in Russia. This really is the plan. 

Reiser tells Bridges and Stone about Idris and how he has the knowledge to fly the space shuttle. Back in the control room, Idris tells the others that all he needs are the override codes. One always needs those pesky override codes! 

He tells them that they can probably get them from Kingsley. Kingsley’s resistance is quickly broken, along with his left hand and he agrees to override the system. They drag him back to the control centre.

Reiser tells them that they have to get to the control room. They fight with Bolat and Doku. Doku takes a few licks and runs off to tell Argun. Bolat gets his arm broken and is killed by Reiser. A shocked Stone asks him why he killed him. Reiser tells her that none of the prisoners can leave alive. Not the answer she was expecting. 

Argun, informed of the death of Bolat and knowing that they will try to stop them, tells the others that they just have to stop them from getting to the control room and shuttle. Bridges, Reiser and Stone get to the power room and contact Earth, informing them of the situation on the space station. 

Argun realises that the communications are on and cuts them. Idris programs the space shuttle for re-entry and the engines fire up. Reiser, somewhat obviously, says they have to stop them. Stone thinks they need to save Kingsley. 

They storm the control room. Bridges grabs the injured Kingsley and is helping him to leave the control room. Argun stabs Kingsley multiple times before Reiser fights him off. Stone, Reiser, Bridges and the now dying Kingsley, escape the control room. 

They move to another section of the station but Reiser stays behind to fight with Doku, who has suddenly found a backbone after running away earlier. Doku is not the greatest fighter and gets cut a lot before Reiser stabs him in the gut. obvs. 

He is not quite dead, so Reiser makes a point of slitting his throat in front of Argun, Eibek and Kunta. Eibek rushes at him and is captured by Stone and Bridges. Reiser pushes Stone aside and stabs Eibek multiple time, killing him. Kingsley has died of his wounds. 

Reiser explains that they have to prevent the space station crashing into Moss-cow – that’s how they say it – and some other bollocks about leaving all the secrets behind. 

Stone reminds him that he brought her to the station to expose it. Stone suggest talking to Argun. The other two scoff, pointing out the fact that he is prepared for martyrdom. Stone says she is going to try anyway. 

Stone talks to Argun, telling him she will expose the inhumanity of the station. Argun rages at her about having the desire to die for a cause and not being an animal. It is a waste of an almost good speech. Argun returns to the control room. 

He only needs to keep them occupied for half an hour. He locks all of the rooms on the station. They can still get into the control room, the only room they want to get into. 

Back on Earth, various security heads talk about about the gravity of the situation and how to deal with it. The Russians must never know! They launch a rocket to destroy the space station. 

On the space station, Bridges mocks up some Molotov cocktails and the three of them go to the control room. They throw the Molotovs into the room and there is an explosion. They follow in afterwards. 

The explosion has not slowed Argun and Kunta down at all. Reiser fights with Kunta, receiving multiple gut stabs for his trouble. Reiser is hard as nails and just keeps on fighting. Stone takes a taser shot as Bridges tackles Argun. Stone recovers and grabs one of the unexploded Molotovs and throw it at Kunta who is fighting with Reiser. The explosion kills him. 

Reiser is so grateful for her assistance that he goes and kicks her in the gut and punches her unconscious. Bridges is still fighting with Argun. Reiser does not help, instead, going after Idris. Idris is waiting for him and they start fighting. Once again, Reiser hands out a beatdown and kills Idris. 

In the control room, Bridges is shouting at Stone to go after Reiser. She peels herself off the floor and grabs a makeshift blade, going after Reiser. He laughs at her, sure she would not try to kill him. 

She stabs him in the shoulder. Reiser turns on her and punches her in the stomach. He proceeds to strangle her. In the control room, Bridges beats a still defiant Argun unconscious. 

Reiser is still strangling Stone. She grabs a fire extinguisher and bashes his head in, killing him. No idea where the extinguisher appeared from. Bridges comes into the docking area and they both get into the shuttle. Bridges flies them home. The space station is destroyed. The end. 

Final thoughts: Incoming is an abomination of a film. Usually, a Scott Adkins film is entertaining even if it is not necessarily Oscar fodder. He is a great martial artist and his fans watch his films for the fight scenes. 

I suggest they give this one a miss. Incoming is utter rubbish. The story is nonsense, the premise is vaguely okay but badly executed. The acting is passable but nothing to shout about. 

The film has no protagonist really, with Reiser turning out to be an antagonist and Stone and Bridges just fighting for their own lives. Argun being Alpha was a ‘meh’ reveal and did not affect the story except for driving the already bonkers Kingsley further over the edge. Reiser bringing Stone on the mission to deliberately to expose its shortcomings, made no sense, especially as he tries to kill her later. 

There is a horrible explosion effect right at the beginning of the film, where Big Ben supposedly blows up. It just adds to the awfulness of the film. Incoming is a true turd of a film. Even Adkins’ family would struggle to make a case for this film. Avoid. 

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: an ex-special forces soldier is recruited to track down a former colleague turned rogue who the government believed to be dead. Initially, the mission goes smoothly but the ex-soldier and his small team soon find themselves fighting for their lives against multiple forces. 

Is it any good?: in a word, no. Put it this way, Vinnie Jones – ex-footballer and, mostly laughable, thespian, – though he was good in Guy Richie’s Snatch – is the best actor in the film. Vinnie Jones. VINNIE JONES. This film is all most Expo level awful. Almost. It is definitely on par with that turd in terms of acting and execution. With better actors and a better script, this could have been a great spoof.

Unfortunately, the script is woeful and all the actors are obviously martial artists or stunt people. 

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is watchable for the fight scenes and the truly laugh-out-loud script and story. Katrina Durden is worth watching for as well.

Spoiler territory: John Gold (Stu Bennett) walks into a nightclub and beats up a couple of security staff. The barman, who for some reason only known to himself, walks over to Gold brandishing a shotgun. He is promptly disarmed by Gold. Three ne’er do wells watch the scene unfold – they are sitting in a booth, so obviously they are who he has come for – they all stand up and approach the now armed Gold. 

Not the wisest individuals ever to have walked the earth, they try each try to shoot him and are sent to their maker one by one. One of them does manage to put up a bit of a fight, even though he has just been shot but promptly gets his neck snapped. 

Outside the nightclub, Frost (Mark Griffin) is waiting. He has come to recruit Gold to track down dangerous former ex-special forces soldier gone rogue, Teague (Vinnie Jones). Gold, unsurprisingly, has a personal grievance against Teague but Frost wants him brought in alive to face justice. Of course he does. 

Gold thought Teague was dead but apparently, he is alive and he is a bad man. Obvs. Frost tells him if he does this job his name will be cleared and he will get his life back. Not that he was exactly hard to find so exactly what life he is supposedly getting back is anybody’s guess. Anyhoo, with the chance to regain his…freedom, Gold agrees to do the mission. 

Gold goes and meets his team and is briefed on the mission by Commander Grayson (David Schaal), a man who looks as though the closest he has been to military action is viewing it on television. He tells the gathered about the target and how dangerous he is plus all the bad things he has done. He is a bad, bad man. 

Gold is assigned Lynch (Phoebe Robinson-Galvin) and Shapiro (Sam Benjamin) as his team. Teague heads to his hideout because he lives there and it is a good place for all the battles to happen and it makes him easier to find. Gold and his team find the not-hiding-at-all Teague’s lair. They quickly dispatch the two hapless guards outside and go inside. 

After smashing in on Teague and his heavily armed henchmen, there is a brief standoff before a shootout ensues. With nine people letting lead fly in a tiny warehouse, they all prove to be terrible aims and no one is hit before taking cover behind various boxes and trunks. 

Teague sends his henchmen out from their hiding places to try and subdue or kill Gold and his team. His thugs are quickly killed by team Gold and Teague is captured but not before a brief bout of fisticuffs with old enemy Gold. 

Gold and the team take Teague to their van, ready to take him to prison. As they are about to get into the van, a masked figure tries to kill Teague. Even with a scope, the shooter does not even wing him, continuing to shoot at the bulletproof van. Lynch takes the wheel and they drive off. The van, not being a vehicle built for speed, is pursued by an SUV driven by the masked assailant. 

Lynch, in a genius move, decides to leave the road and drive into a junkyard. She meets a dead end. The masked assailant comes up behind them, gets out of her vehicle and shoots at the van with a rocket launcher. The rocket launcher has the desired effect, blowing the doors open. 

The rattled team inside the van, see a nearby warehouse. Gold tells the others to take Teague to the warehouse. He will draw their assailant away. Gold gets out of the van. The assailant, in keeping with marksman standards set in the film, is unable to shoot him with a submachine gun. Lynch and Shapiro take Teague to the warehouse. 

The assailant goes after Gold. He ends up disarming her and they fight. Gold is a big guy, six-foot-six and not at all a beanpole, so at least one hundred and twenty kilos, about two and fifty pounds. The assailant is a woman. She is fit and a superb martial artist. She is tallish at five-seven but probably weighs less than sixty-five kilos, one hundred and thirty pounds. 

Gold, unsurprisingly, throws her around like a rag doll. She still gets in a good few kicks and punches but, truthfully, one punch from a man his size would probably concuss her. Anyhoo, they trade blows for a bit but are interrupted by more of Teague’s goons who have been tracking him to rescue him.

How they knew he had been captured is anyone’s guess. The goons train their automatic weapons on Gold and the assailant. They open fire. Not one bullet hits its intended target as Gold and the assailant run off in different directions. 

Gold contacts Frost to tell him about the situation. Frost decides to bring the rest of the team to help out Gold because I assume he doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun. Gold regroups with Lynch, Shapiro and their captive in a small room. Teague’s goons find them and blow the door off. The explosion disorientates everyone in the room except for Teague. Maybe because he was wearing handcuffs? 

Teague leaves with his girlfriend, Pearl (Jessica-Jane Stafford). He tells his main henchman, Renner (Bentley Kalu), to watch Gold and his team. As soon as Teague has left, Renner challenges the legendary Gold to come and take out his group of five next door. Renner and his guys go next door. Gold tells Lynch to go and get Teague. He will take care of Renner and the other goons. Shapiro is laying on the floor still reeling from the effects of the explosion. The wuss. 

Gold goes to fight the goons armed with an extendable baton. They all have semi-automatic submachine guns. Luckily, Renner does the villain thing of wanting to talk a good fight and Gold throw the baton at his head and starts beating on the rest. No shots get fired. 

Lynch catches up with Teague and Pearl. Kendrick (Laurent Plancel), another henchman, turns to confront Lynch. The two fight. Elsewhere, Gold is beating on the henchmen but gets blindsided and knocked to the ground. Renner pulls a knife.

Back outside, Lynch, another phenomenal martial artist, meets her match in the equally proficient Kendrick and takes a bit of a pounding. As he is about to beat on her some more, the assailant turns up and kills him. 

The assailant reveals herself. She is Jen Quaid (Katrina Durden) and she has a personal vendetta against Teague because he killed her father. Lynch tries to persuade her that they need to take Teague to face justice. Quaid does not agree. 

Lynch, who is obviously suffering from a concussion or extreme cockiness, decides to fight with Quaid. She gets her second ass whooping in as many minutes and is only saved from a more savage beating by Teague bashing Quaid with a brick. Teague runs into another building. The terminator like Quaid shrugs off her concussion and goes after him. She head-butts unconscious a momentarily feisty Pearl who tries to defend Teague. 

Upstairs in the warehouse, Teague is hiding in, Quaid confronts him. T-800 Quaid slaps Teague about a bit but is interrupted by the plucky but definitely concussed Lynch. Teague tries to attack Quaid from behind and gets kicked out of some first floor doors for his troubles.

Never-say-die Lynch gets into another fight with T-800 Quaid and is just about to get beaten again when Gold, who walks past a prone Teague outside the warehouse, stops her and throws her into a corner. 

Gold looks down to see Teague making his escape once again. No idea what has happened to Pearl. Gold goes after Teague leaving Lynch with a restrained Quaid. Teague contacts Renner and tells him to come and pick him up. Renner gathers together the goons, Gunnar (Joe Egan) and Price (Greg Burridge) who Gold left alive. Gold catches up with Teague. They fight and reminisce between punches. Lynch leaves Quaid to go after Gold. Quaid promptly escapes her, frankly, pathetic bonds. 

Lynch stops Gold killing Teague. Quaid encounters Frost and the rest of the backup team. They want to arrest her. She flash smoke bombs them and goes back into the warehouse. Gold and Lynch head with Teague towards the airstrip. 

Frost and the team go int to the warehouse to try and retrieve Quaid. It does not go well. After smacking up one soldier, she puts a sleep hold on Shapiro and steals his clothing. Using a gas mask as a disguise – brilliant! – she leaves the warehouse and steals one of the team vehicles. 

Gold, Lynch and Teague find a car and Lynch hot wires it. Yes she does. Renner, sitting in a parked car with the goons and Pearl, who has magically reappeared, tells Price to take the next left. I always thought that was a command you gave whilst the car was in motion, but what do I know? 

As Gold, Lynch and Teague potter along, Price crashes into them. The car ends up on its roof. Teague, once again, is unaffected by the impact to the vehicle he is in and easily extricates himself from the car. Lynch and Gold struggle, trapped in the flipped car. Gold calls after Teague as Pearl helpfully tells Teague to hurry up because they have to leave. 

Lynch and Gold stop messing about and get out of the car. Renner takes a gun off of Price and goes to kill them. His aim remains as awful as ever. Teague tells him to go and kill them. It’s as though Renner was not trying to kill them before. T-800 Quaid arrives on a motorbike – maybe she’s a T-1000 hence the motorbike appearing from nowhere. She starts shooting. Badly. 

As they are both terrible shots, Renner and Quaid decide to go old fashioned and fight sans firearms. Renner is, again, a big fella and not much of a gentleman. Quaid, who is uncommonly stubborn and did not learn anything from fighting Gold, takes a beating and has to be rescued by Gold. 

Teague leaves a perfectly good motor vehicle and all of his henchmen and girlfriend and tries to run, on foot. Gold grabs Quaid’s motorbike and catches up to Teague. He calls Lynch, who has been picked up by Frost and the rest of the backup team, and tells her that he is taking Teague to the airstrip. 

Renner, Gunnar and Price get back into the car with Pearl. Quaid has disappeared. She probably is a T-100. Gold gets to the airstrip with Teague but is caught by Gunnar, Renner, Price and Pearl. As Teague is about to execute Gold, Quaid appears and distracts them by blowing up the plane they were planning on escaping in. Teague runs off with Pearl and his goons scatter. Another gunfight. Everyone remains a terrible shot. 

Outside, Frost has arrived with Lynch, Shapiro and the rest of the team. He tells Stiles (Jennifer Lee Moon) to take point. She must have pissed off the director because she is about the only person who gets killed by a bullet shot from more than a foot away, quickly being dispatched by Price, who scurries into the aircraft hangar. 

Frost and the rest do not even try to find cover, confident that no one in the film can be on target twice. In the hangar, Gold and Quaid are running low on ammunition and Teague’s goons converge on them. Frost and the team burst in shooting. Quaid gets in a fistfight with Teague and is nearly killed again but Gold saves her. There’s definitely a pattern there…

Shapiro and Frost fight Gunnar. Shapiro breaks his neck. Teague and Gold fight. Price fights Kelso (Jean-Paul Ly). Renner faces off against both Lynch and Quaid. Kelso hands out a whooping to Price. The ladies take down Renner. Gold and Teague continue to fight but Gold overpowers him. He gives Quaid the opportunity of killing him but she does not take it. 

Pearl tries to escape and is caught by Kelso and Shapiro. Teague gets arrested and warns Gold that it’s not over – wahoo! Another sequel! – Quaid tells Gold she might change her mind and kill Teague at a later date. Frost tells Gold he is a free man, even though he was not incarcerated. The end. 

Final thoughts: Even though I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is badly written and the acting is wooden in the extreme, it is an enjoyable action romp and a brilliant stunt person showcase. Written and directed by Ross Boyask, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is so much hokum. It is well lensed and edited – Boyask is also on editing duty – and blazes through its eighty-two minutes runtime. 

This film is laugh-out-loud for the wrong reasons, mostly the very bad script and Leslie Nielsen-esque shootout scenes. The use of the warehouse/hangar set, though inspired, gets repetitive and slows down the story.

Jones’ Teague seems to spend most of the film running in circles or playing ‘chase me’. With such an underwritten story it was a good thing that the fight scenes worked so well. As I mentioned earlier, it is obvious watching the film that the majority of the performers are martial artists or stunt people. A quick peruse of their IMDB pages confirms this.

Only Durden’s Quaid is moderately well served in the film, with her character actually having some true motivation to go after Teague. Everyone else seems to do it because that’s the job. Kalu’s Renner is entertaining and, given the minimal amount she was required to do, Stafford’s Pearl is not bad. 

Though it is Bennett’s film, the star of the film is Durden. She is easily the best thing in the film and in all of the best fight scenes. Admittedly, with Jones’ playing the primary antagonist, Bennett’s fight scenes could not be as well-choreographed as Durden’s, which were mostly with other stunt performers. 

If you enjoy good fight scenes and don’t mind bad acting, you might enjoy I Am Vengeance: Retaliation. It is a poor man’s Jack Reacher, made on a fraction of the budget of the Cruise starrer but it is not the worst way to waste eighty-two minutes. 

The Old Guard – review

Brief synopsis: A team of immortal mercenaries are recruited by an ex-CIA operative for a mission to rescue some kidnapped children. The mission turns out to be a trap and the team is ambushed. After escaping the ambush, the team realise that they are being hunted and must evade capture.

Is it any good?: The Old Guard, with the always watchable Charlize Theron in the lead, is a moderately entertaining actioner that is perhaps a little too long and miss-paced in parts. The acting is good from all on show and the action sequences are entertaining but the film does suffer a little from having a weak antagonist.

Spoiler territory: after some time apart from her team, immortal warrior Andy (Charlize Theron), meets up with Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), whilst walking through the cavernous paths of Morocco. Booker tells her about a job being offered by an ex-CIA operative, James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who had got them a mission before.

Andy is reluctant to take the job, pointing out that they do not work for the same people twice. Booker persuades her to meet with Copley. The two get together with the other members of the team, Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli). Andy is the leader and the others are happy that she is back to lead the mission.

Andy and Booker meet with Copley. He tells them that some girls have been snatched and he wants the team to retrieve them. He tells them that the intelligence he has leads him to believe the girls will soon be moved from the location they are thought to be held in. Andy takes the mission.

The team of four easily and efficiently breach the compound in South Sudan looking for the girls. There is nobody in the bunker. Blinding lights come on in the bunker and the team are ambushed by a military unit who open fire, firing hundreds of bullets at the team and putting them down. The team are left on the ground, riddled with bullets.

The unit begins to retreat, thinking their mission is complete. On the floor, the team all come back to life. They slaughter the unit that attacked them. Andy notices that cameras are watching them. They had been set up. Copley has recorded the whole incident.

The team need to disappear and Andy wants to find Copley. In Afghanistan, an army unit is searching a village for a man. One of the female soldiers, Nile Freeman (Kiki Layne), is sent to go and question some of the women in the village. Freeman goes and speaks to the women. One of the older women tells her that no man would hide amongst the women but indicates a door behind her.

Freeman and two of her colleagues breach the door and find the man they are searching for in a small room. Freeman is forced to shoot him. The man is not dead and, because they were trying to taking him as a prisoner, Freeman goes to the man’s aid. She is momentarily distracted by one of her colleagues. The man pulls a knife and slices her across the throat.

Freeman dies. On a freight train, Andy and her team are hiding in a carriage. They fall asleep, all dream about Freeman. They wake up and piece together their varying fragments of dreams. She is one of them. Andy decides to go to Afghanistan to get her. The rest head to France.

In Afghanistan, Freeman’s fellow soldiers are spooked by the fact that she is not only alive but shows no signs of having had her throat slit. Freeman is as confused as they are. In London, Steven Merrick (Harry Melling), is addressing potential investors as he discusses his company’s research into increasing life expectancy and the eradication of certain age-related diseases.

Copley shows Merrick the video of the team coming back to life after the ambush. Merrick wants him to capture the whole team to aid his research. Back in Afghanistan, Freeman has orders that she is to go to Germany for testing. As Freeman waits for her flight, Andy comes and knocks her unconscious. Freeman wakes up in the back of a humvee. She tries to escape. Andy shoots her in the head.

She waits for Freeman to come back to life. Freeman comes back to life but is reluctant to embrace her new reality. Andy tells her she can answer her questions. The two women get on a plane to France. On the plane, Freeman has second thoughts and tries to hijack the plane. She ends up fighting with Andy. After getting a couple of her limbs broken, they come to a truce.

They get to France. Freeman meets the other immortals. She finds out that most of them have been alive for centuries. Andy is the oldest. They also can die. Andy explains that they will eventually just not heal after an attack or death.

As the team sleep, Andy sits looking at her hand. Something is off. Freeman wakes from a nightmare, waking up the whole group. She tells them she saw a woman trapped in an iron coffin underwater, drowning and coming back to life, fighting to escape. They tell her that woman is Quynh (Van Veronica Ngo) who had met Andy.

The two lived and fought countless battles and had come to England to fight heretics. They had been tried as witches and sentenced to death. When they would not die, it had been taken as proof of their witchcraft. Quynh had been separated from Andy, put into an iron coffin and thrown into the ocean. Andy feels guilty for not having found her.

Joe and Nicky get grabbed by some of Copley’s men. A unit is waiting to grab Andy. She kills all of them. Copley, who had been watching from a remote location in a van, leaves the scene. Andy, Freeman and Booker change location. Andy, who had been stabbed in the shoulder during the last fight, finds that the wound is not healing.

Joe and Nicky are taken to Merrick’s headquarters. Merrick stabs Joe multiple times to see if he will heal. Joe heals almost immediately. Both men are sedated and taken away so as doctor Kozak (Anamaria Marinca), a geneticist, can experiment on them. Copley questions Merrick’s ethics. Merrick tells him he wants the other two immortals.

The team continue to look for Copley. Andy does not tell the others that she is not healing. She leaves Booker and Freeman alone. Booker tells Freeman about the emotional downside of being almost immortal and ageless. Andy gets patched up at a drugstore. Andy recalls an immortal, Lykon (Michael Ward) dying, the only one she has ever known to die.

Copley realises that Merrick’s vision for pharmaceutical advancement by studying the immortals is not as altruistic as he was led to believe. Doctor Kozak takes samples from Joe and Nicky. Andy and Freeman talk about being immortal and how time takes away so much. Andy confesses to giving up looking for Quynh.

The team find Copley. Freeman is not comfortable going on the mission. Andy tells her she can leave and gives her the gun Booker had given to her. Freeman drives away. Andy and Booker go after Copley. Freeman stops to check her weapons and notices that the gun Andy had given her had no bullets in it.

Andy and Booker get to Copley. Andy trains her gun on him. Booker shoots her in the back and begins to tie her up. Copley tells Andy that he has tracked her through history. He hopes that by helping Merrick he can help to end the sort of suffering his wife faced having died of ALS two years before.

Booker notices that Andy is not healing. She wants to know why he betrayed them. He tells her that he hopes they can find a way to allow them to die. Merrick’s team come and collect Andy and Booker. Copley protests again but is knocked unconscious. Andy and Booker are taken to Merrick’s headquarters.

Freeman finds Copley and asks him where Andy and Booker are. He tells her that Merrick took them to the lab. He takes her to the lab and gives her a pass card to get into the building. Freeman gets into the lab and frees the team. The five of them wreak havoc through the building whilst protecting a no longer immortal Andy.

Andy and Freeman face-off with Merrick. Freeman jumps out of a window with him and crashes into a car parked several storeys below. The team escape before the police turn up. They have a meeting about Booker’s betrayal and banish him for one hundred years.

Six months later, a drunk Booker returns to his apartment to find someone has broken in. It is Quynh. The end.

Final thoughts: The Old Guard is an entertaining though slightly long film. It is definitely helped by having Theron as the lead as she carries the film through some of the more ham-fisted exposition that happens. Truth be told, most of the actors are well cast, filling their roles ably. Ejiofor is thrown in as a bit of a red herring, a misdirection making one think he is the antagonist.

Unfortunately, he is not and the wholly underwhelming Melling as Merrick is revealed as the main antagonist. As the antagonist, Melling does not offer any real threat and plays more like a spoilt rich kid. This is probably the film’s biggest weakness, especially as there are some lulls between the action scenes.

Written from his own graphic novel by Greg Rucka and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, The Old Guard is quite well directed and the action scenes play particularly well, considering that Theron has also been given the ‘Wick’ treatment in her action-starrer, Atomic Blonde.

At one hundred and twenty-five minutes long, The Old Guard is a little on the long side. As I mentioned before, the weak villain does detract from the film’s urgency, so the film does drag a little in the quieter moments.

The Old Guard is worth a watch if you are a fan of Theron, who has the kind of physical presence that allows for the suspension of disbelief needed when she is handing out a whooping. The Old Guard is not a bad film but it does feel a little bloated and slightly underwritten. That being said, the ending hints at the possibility of a sequel and the backstory alluded to in the film is quite intriguing. Worth a watch.

Extraction – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A mercenary for hire, goes to India to extract an incarcerated drug lord’s son after he is taken by a rival drug lord. The job becomes complicated when his team gets killed and the payment for the extraction does not arrive. The mercenary must battle to get the boy and himself out of the city with enemies at every turn.

Is it any good?: Extraction is a blast. Bridging both the familiar and unfamiliar – drug lords and gunplay the familiar, the Indian setting being the unfamiliar – and crafts a compelling story with an enigmatic antagonist and simple, straightforward premise – save the boy – the film hurtles through its over one-hundred-minute runtime.

Spoiler territory: a mercenary, Tyler Rake (Chris Hemsworth), is battling against overwhelming odds on a bridge in India. He gets shot and badly wounded. As he struggles to stay alive, he remembers his young family in happier times, his baby son playing in the sand.

Two days earlier, Ovi (Rudhraksh Jaiswal), is chatting with a couple of friends after school. From a rich family, he is picked up by his chauffeur and bodyguard. He and his friends go for a drink and chatter as teenagers do and then he heads home. The home is vast, reflecting the wealth he lives in. He is questioned about his dalliance after school by the head of security, Saju (Randeep Hooda). Has he not been told to come straight home after school? Ovi nods.

Ovi practices the piano in the large home. With Saju off for the evening, Ovi takes the chance to sneak out and meet his friends at a club. His friends goad him at the club, trying to get him to speak to a girl he likes. One of his friends decides that he needs a little dutch courage. Two of the boys go into an alley behind the club and light a joint.

As the friends smoke, a couple of policemen come and catch them. The boys quickly discard the joint. One of the officers shoots Ovi’s friend and they kidnap Ovi. Saju goes to see Ovi’s father, Ovi Sr. (Pankaj Tripathi). Ovi Sr. is a drug lord, hence the wealth and knows that his son has been snatched.

He admonishes Saju for allowing his son to be kidnapped by his bitter rival, Amir Asif (Priyanshu Painyuli). He tells him to go and get his son back, warning him that his own family is in danger if he does not retrieve his son. Saju speaks to his wife, Neysa (Neha Mahajan). She says that Ovi Sr. should pay the ransom.

Saju explains that he cannot as all his assets are frozen. He does think he knows of someone who could help. In Australia, Tyler is lounging with some friends. He jumps into the water and sits at the bottom of the lake, remembering his family. When he returns home later in the day, Nik (Golshifteh Farahani), is waiting for him. They have a big job. He is to extract an Indian kid.

Nik tells him that it is a drug lord’s kid and he has been snatched by a rival drug lord. It could get complicated. The job is in Dhaka. Tyler takes the job. Nik knows that Tyler has a bit of a death wish. Nobody else would have taken such a dangerous assignment. Tyler says he needs the money, though it is obvious that he does not.

He and others that make up the team, meet up for a briefing of the job. Tyler goes to Dhaka and acts as the negotiator, getting taken by the kidnappers to the where they are holding Ovi. He tells them he wants proof of life before they receive any payment. The kidnappers show Tyler that Ovi is alive and unharmed.

As they take Tyler back to go and get the ransom, the team begin to take the kidnappers out. Tyler storms the room and kills all of the men holding Ovi. He takes the boy into his care. Elsewhere in Dhaka, on a rooftop, a group of frightened boys are being questioned by one of Amir’s thugs. He grabs one of the boys and throws him off of the roof. He returns to the cowering group. Who stole the money? One of the boys puts his hand up.

The boy, Farhad (Suraj Rikame), says that the boy who stole the money was the boy he threw off the roof. An amused Amir, who had been watching on, calls him over. He tells the other boys that Farhad is smart and knows how to think on his feet. He hands a penknife to Farhad and tells him to cut off two of his fingers.

Farhad asks why. He tells him that the boy who stole his money is dead and he wants a walking reminder of what happens to anyone who steals money from him. Before Farhad can carry out the gruesome task, Amir is interrupted by Colonel Shadek (Shataf Figar). The boy has been taken back.

Amir tells him to shut down the city. Tyler takes Ovi to a car and they change into combat gear. He begins to take him to a boat that they are to meet. He records the boy on his mobile so as the client knows that he is alive. He sends the message to Nik.

Nik and her team are tracking the operation remotely and receive Tyler’s video. They inform the client. The money is to be transferred in seven minutes. On the boat they are meeting, the two men waiting for them get killed. One of the team, who is watching the boat gets killed. The money has not been sent. The base of operations sees the police closing on Tyler’s position. Nik warns him. Tyler is forced to change his plan and go back towards the car. Saju is also after the boy and attacks Tyler. Not trusting who he is, Tyler takes Ovi away in the car.

Chased by both Saju and the corrupt police department, Tyler shoots and fights his way to safety across Dhaka. As they rest, he contacts Nik. She tells him that Ovi Sr. does not want to pay and that he should leave the boy and escape. He ends the call. Ovi, having overheard the call, asks him if he is going to leave him. Tyler tells him he is not.

Saju checks into a motel and contacts his family. He wants to speak to his son, the magnitude of the task he is facing apparent to him after the day he has had. Tyler gets a call. There is a helicopter for him at the edge of town if he can get there. He wakes Ovi up. As they go to leave, they are attacked by Farhad and a group of boys.

Tyler slaps them about a bit but does not kill any of them. He gets picked up by a friend, Gaspar (David Harbour), who tells him they can stay with him for the night before they travel. Farhad goes to see Amir. He gives him one of his fingers and says he wants to be the one to kill Tyler because he embarrassed him.

Tyler tells an inquisitive Ovi about his life and his son’s death. He had been absent when his son died and is ridden with guilt. Tyler and Gaspar drink and chat. Gaspar asks him what does he plan to do once he gets the boy back. Gaspar tells him that the boy has a large bounty on him and they could split it. They only have to kill him.

Tyler and Gaspar fight. Ovi is woken by the fighting and comes down the stairs. He shoots Gaspar who was about to kill Tyler. Tyler realises that he cannot do the job alone. He calls Saju. They meet the next morning and he gives Ovi to him and tells him he will take care of the roadblocks. They set off. Amir and the colonel watch the battle unfolding from afar.

Nik and some of the crew come to meet Tyler at the extraction point. As the two men wage separate battles to clear a path to the extraction point, Nik and her crew are helping as they arrive at the extraction point. Saju, who has Ovi in tow, is forced to get out of the vehicle they have. As they make their way to the extraction point, with Saju killing and fighting the whole way, they get separated.

Soju gets killed by a sniper bullet. The colonel is shooting from a distance away. One of Nik’s crew gets killed by the colonel. Nik, who also has a gun with a scope, looks for the shooter. Tyler reaches the bridge, near the extraction point but is wounded by there colonel. Nik sees him and kills him. Ovi finds Tyler. Tyler tells him to head to the extraction point. Tyler steels himself to kill the last few soldiers.

He kills the last few soldiers he sees and turns to come back to Nik. He is shot in the neck by Farhad. He falls off of the bridge into the river. Nik and Ovi get to the extraction point and escape. Eight months later and Ovi’s life is back to normal. Amir is still riding high in Dhaka. He goes to the bathroom. He sees Nik, whom he had never met, smiles at her because she is attractive. She shoots him dead.

Ovi jumps into a swimming pool and sits at the bottom. Something makes him think he needs to go to the surface. He looks to his right and a man who looks like Tyler is in the distance. The end.

Extraction is an entertaining thriller that blazes through its just over one hundred minute runtime. With Hemsworth the best-known name in the cast taking the lead role, he ably fills the role and physicality of the highly capable Tyler. Extraction is a thriller by the numbers, with no surprises. Not that it is a problem.

One of the strengths of the film is that you know what is going to happen. There is no working out of the plot, it is set in the first ten minutes and the action just ramps up from then on. Exactly how a thriller should be.

There is even humour when Tyler comes against Farhad and his boys and pathos when he is shot near the end. Written by Joe Russo – we know that name! – and directed by Sam Hargrave, Extraction has good performances from all concerned and the action scenes are excellent.

Truth be told, Extraction is basically the same as the much more linear and superior Denzel Washington starrer of 2004, Man on Fire, with a few more people fighting to save the child. That being said, it is not a detriment to have a similar plot to that highly entertaining film of 2004 and Extraction is entertaining and worth a watch.

Code 8 – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: In a world where people with powers are outlawed and treated like second-class citizens, a young man with the power to manipulate electricity gets involved with a group of criminals similarly endowed with varying abilities.

When his mother, who also has a superpower, gets sick and needs to be hospitalised, the man makes a deal with the local criminal drug lord to do a job so as he can raise the money to help his mother.

Is it any good?: Code 8 is an entertaining thriller with a strong central story and premise. With the Amell cousins – Stephen and Robbie – taking the central roles, the film manages to keep you engaged through its near one-hundred minute runtime.

Spoiler territory: As the world’s technology advances, there is less of a need for people born with superpowers, with many of the jobs they had done being done more economically by robots and mechanical machinery.

In Lincoln City, the fear of super-powered individuals is such that many found themselves unemployable. A new drug, Psyke, that is created by taking spinal fluid from super-powered individuals is flooding the streets and this is making it even more difficult for them to be accepted by wider society.

Connor (Robbie Amell) wakes his tired mother, Mary (Kari Matchett) from her slumber on the sofa. She has fallen asleep in her work uniform. As Connor prepares breakfast, Mary goes to the bathroom to freshen up. Her hands, covered in dark lesions, hurt as she washes them. Connor checks the mail. Every envelope is an overdue bill.

Mother and son discuss Connor’s upcoming interview. He notes that the lesions on her hands are getting worse. Mary tells him they are fine. Connor goes to his interview. Afterwards, he heads to a building site hoping to get some cash for doing a bit of labour. Joe (Lawrence Bayne), the foreman, offers him half-a-day’s pay because he missed the first hour. Connor needs the money so is forced to take the work.

Joe uses super-powered people on his house builds. As the men go about the construction, the police turn up and ask to see the workforce. The workforce is all told to look up so as they can be checked by a drone that hovers above. One of the workers is not registered on the system and tries to escape after the police take him into custody. As he runs away, two robot policemen drop from the drone and shoot him dead.

Elsewhere in the city, the police are getting ready to do a raid on a Psyke drug house. The house is part of the kingpin, Marcus Sutcliffe (Greg Bryk), drug network. As they raid the apartment, they find a room with multiple super-powered people hooked up to drips siphoning their spinal fluid. The police put out a press release, informing the city of their continued fight against the Psyke problem. They also show footage of the drug haul being taken away to be destroyed.

Connor stops by his mum’s workplace and finds her manager, Dave (Matthew Gouveia), telling her off. He is not happy about the way that he speaks to her. Dave does not care, knowing that Mary does not want to cause any problems for herself and her son, especially as both have superpowers. Mary gets fired.

Mary is not happy that Connor displayed his superpowers to Dave. Connor hits back that she had not exactly hidden her own powers, Mary’s ability to freeze things slipping from her control due to her health. She has a tumour but they cannot afford to pay for her to have chemotherapy. The next day, Connor is waiting with a group of labourers all hoping to get some work that day. A van drives past and a man from the van throw liquid at them whilst shouting abuse.

Another van comes along. Connor asks one of the other labourers, Travis (Jai Jai Jones), who they are. He tells him that they are part of Sutcliffe’s trafficking crew. The van stops and Garrett (Stephen Amell) leans out of the van and asks the gathered labourers if any of them are an electrical of at least level two. The labourers stay silent. Garrett voices the thought that no one wants to get paid then. Connor steps up.

Garrett, plus two others, Maddy (Laysla De Oliviera), a woman who can generate extreme heat through her hands and Freddie (Vlad Alexis), who has super strength, are in the van. Garrett is telekinetic. They all go to a storage facility. Garrett needs Connor to cut through the fence because it is electrified.

Connor shorts the fence and the crew break into the compound. They grab six barrels of a chemical that helps to create Psyke. A security guard tries to stop them and they put him in a dumpster. The police get alerted to the break-in and are looking for the van. The crew change the colour of the van to avoid detection.

In a club bar where Sutcliffe hangs out, Sutcliffe is having a nervous meeting with Cumbo (Peter Outerbridge). He owes Cumbo money. Cumbo, knowing that Sutcliffe reads minds, tells him to look into the eyes of his associate, Copperhead (Sarah Hödlmoser). Sutcliffe looks into her eyes. He tells Cumbo that she is thinking of the various ways she can cut his throat. Cumbo tells him he has a week to come up with the money.

The crew come into the club, led over to Sutcliffe by Rhino (Simon Northwood), Sutcliffe’s bodyguard. Sutcliffe reads Connor and notes his anger. He tells Nia (Kyla Kane), a healer, to show him around. Garrett has a meeting with Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe asks about Connor and Garrett tells him that the boy is more powerful than he realises but needs to be honed. Sutcliffe tells him to get on it as he has a big score he wants them to do.

Garrett starts coughing. Rhino comes and finds Nia. She is needed by Sutcliffe. Garrett takes Connor back to where he picked him up from and overpays him for the night’s work. He tells him there is more work. Connor seems reluctant. Connor returns home and is told by his mother that she went and got her job back at the store.

Nia goes to see Sutcliffe. She is hooked on Psyke and heals him in exchange for the drug. The next day, Connor is waiting for work again. Joe turns up and all the labourers rush to the truck. Garrett turns up just after. Connor decides to go with him. Garrett wants to know why Connor has joined them, knowing what sort of people they are. Connor tells him that his mother is sick.

Garrett decides to help him realise his potential. Connor accompanies Garrett as he goes about his daily drug pushing business, in-between the hustle, he trains him. They go to see Mikey (Max Laferriere). Mikey owes Garrett money. Mikey tells him that The Trust, who runs the Psyke trade, say that Sutcliffe and Garrett are done. He is taking over. Connor steps up to Mikey. Mikey, also an electric, zaps him. He is not as powerful as Connor.

Connor zaps Mikey back, putting him down. Later, Garrett tells Connor that he needs to be who he is and not hide his abilities. Connor goes and visits the manager at his mother’s workplace, Dave. He keeps training with Garrett and his control gets much better. He lies to his mother telling her he got the job he went for.

Conner is a person of interest after a spate of robberies involving super-powered persons. Park (Sung Kang) and Davis (Aaron Abrams), part of the LCPD, watch Conner. Garrett and Connor go to case out a bank they plan to hit. Connor tells the crew about the security and cameras at the bank. Dave is reluctant to order Mary around anymore after his visit from Conner.

The crew hit the bank. They get into the vault but the expected amount of money is not in the vault. Garrett asks the bank teller, Emily (Casey Hudecki), where the money is. She tells him that most of the money had been collected earlier in the day. Maddy tells Garrett that they need to leave. The crew leave but are spotted by a police drone. Garrett tells Conner to fire on the drone. Conner disables the drone and they escape.

Garrett goes to see Sutcliffe. He tells him his information was not good. As they argue, a young man at the bar looks around. He gets up and his face changes. It is Copperhead. She tries to kill Sutcliffe. Rhino stands between her and Sutcliffe, taking the shots. She turns her attention to Nia but Conner blast the gun out of her hand. She turns to him and pulls a knife, slicing his forearm. Rhino shoots her. As she is on the floor he shoots her in the head making sure she is dead.

Garrett tells Sutcliffe that they need to hit back at the Trust. Sutcliffe tells him that he does not realise how big the Trust is and that it is his business, not theirs. Nia heals Conner. He did not know she was a healer. She tells him that she is paying off a debt to Sutcliffe which is why she works for him.

Mary finds Connor’s money. She wants to know how he came by so much cash as she knows he did not get the job. As they argue, Mary collapses. Connor takes her to the hospital. A doctor (Darrin Baker) tells him that the tumour is pressuring her brain and she needs to be treated urgently. The cost of her treatment is huge.

As Connor leaves the hospital, he is picked up by Park and Davis. They take him in for interrogation. Davis wants to lock him up but Park says they do not have a strong enough case against him. They let him go. Garrett picks him up and takes him to see Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe looks into his eyes and tells Garrett that he did not tell them anything.

Garrett comes up with a plan to steal the Psyke that the LCPD burn before it is destroyed. Connor says he wants Nia in exchange for the job. Sutcliffe agrees. Garrett wants a fifty-fifty split. He agrees to that as well. The crew plan the heist. The day of the heist arrives and the job is going smoothly, Garrett’s crew easily overpowering the armoured van carrying the Psyke.

Sutcliffe’s men start killing everybody and kill Maddy. The crew realise that Sutcliffe wants them all dead as well. LCPD robots are deployed to help with the subduing of the criminals. They shoot Sutcliffe’s men but Freddie is injured during the gun battle and dies.

Nia wants to leave Sutcliffe but he points out to her that her father still owes him a lot of money. He suggests he could just have him killed in prison to cancel the debt. At the police station, the captain, Milltown (Martin Roach), discusses the spate of robberies and the last heist with Davis and Park. Park admits they had Connor in custody but let him go. He does not think he would kill anyone.

Connor goes to see his mother and tells her he is going to help her. She tells him that he needs to let her go, she has accepted her fate. Park goes to see his daughter. While he is out walking with her, Travis gives him a note. Park meets Connor in a cafe. Connor gives Park the location of Sutcliffe’s operation. They storm the location causing Sutcliffe to flee with Nia and Rhino.

Garrett catches up with Sutcliffe and shoots him. Rhino stands in front of him, defending Sutcliffe again. Rhino goes for Garrett. Connor hits him with an electrical blast but he still keeps coming, smacking both the men around. Garrett stabs him in the eye with a metal shaft and Connor kills him with an electrical bolt through it.

Garrett chokes Sutcliffe to death. Nia shows Connor that using her powers to could kill her as she absorbs any disease to cure them. Garrett tells him that he needs to take what he wants. Conner takes Nia to the hospital and tells her to heal his mother. He stops her as Mary wakes up still obviously dying. He holds her hand and she dies.

The LCPD find Sutcliffe’s body. Connor lets Nia go. Lincoln city push through a bill to outlaw superpowers. Park and Davis get commendations for the drug raid. Garrett takes over Sutcliffe’s drug patch and meets with Cumbo. Connor visits his mother’s grave. Nia visits her father in prison. The end.

Code 8 is an entertaining thriller with good performances from all on show. With the popular superpowers genre in full swing and social commentary also very popular, combining the two – a staple of comics through the decades – is a recipe for a strong basis to make a film on. Stephen Amell does not stray far from his Oliver Queen/Arrow persona and it works perfectly well in the framework of this film.

Robbie who, unlike his cousin, is not so defined by one role, continues to show that he is a capable screen presence. He is totally believable as the struggling to find his place Connor. The social commentary is that most popular parable of oppression for something that is beyond one’s control and is only touched upon in the film.

Truth be told, Code 8 is not a film trying to change the world, leaving the preaching of such messages to more cerebral fare. Code 8 is a superhero film in reverse. With Connor as the central protagonist whose only drive is to save his mother, it does not really take in the treatment of other super-powered people beyond the intermittent newscast and Abrams’ Davis obvious dislike of super-powered persons.

The film flows nicely through its ninety-eight-minute runtime, keeping you engaged up until the conclusion. Code 8 is by no means a perfect or great film but it is entertaining. With a screenplay by Chris Pare and story and direction from Jeff Chan, Code 8 is a perfectly serviceable actioner with a nod to social justice. It takes ideas from many other films but they are executed well enough not to be obtrusive. Code 8 is an enjoyable actioner to waste the best part of two hours on.

Bloodshot – review

Brief synopsis: a marine is captured by a psychopath and asked for information relating to a recent mission. The psychopath kills his, wife in front of him, when the marine tells him that he is unable to tell him what he want s to know. When the marine vows to kill him, the psychopath shoots him, killing him. He is brought back from the dead by a military project.

Now enhanced, he hunts down the person who killed him and his wife but all is not what it seems.

Is it any good?: Bloodshot is total action hokum. Taking the ideas from multiple films and shows – The Six Million Dollar Man, Universal Soldier, Terminator, The Frankenstein Monster, Dollhouse – Bloodshot zips through its runtime, with Vin Diesel – returning to full Vin Diesel persona, post-Groot – adequate as the murderous, resurrected, marine trying to uncover his past.

Spoiler territory: Ray Garrison (Diesel) is a marine. Returning from a mission, he is happy to return to his wife, Gina (Talulah Riley), who is worried when he goes on a mission. He tells her that he always returns. They go to bed. He wakes up in the morning and Gina is gone. Two men attack him in his home and he quickly subdues them.

Fearing that his wife might be in danger, Ray goes looking for her. He bumps into a man on the way out of his home. A few steps later and he begins to feel dizzy. The man he bumped into drugged him. Ray comes to. He is strapped into a chair. The man, Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), wants to know about his past mission. Ray tells him he does not know where the orders come from.

Axe brings in his wife in the hope of persuading Ray to remember. Ray does not have the information Axe wants. Axe believes him but kills Gina in front of him. Ray tells him that he had better kill him because he will not get another chance. Axe kills him.

Ray wakes up in a hi-tech laboratory. A bespectacled man, Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), tells him that he is part of a military project and that he has been brought back to life. Harting asks if he remembers anything. Besides his name, Ray cannot remember anything.

Harting introduces him to KT (Eiza González). KT is also ex-military. Harting explains that he has a new technology in his body that will repair any injury he sustains. His division enhances injured military personnel with KT having her lungs enhanced, Tibbs (Alex Hernandez), who lost his sight, has ocular enhancements and Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan), who lost his legs and has replacement limbs.

Ray thinks he is in a dream and decides to return to bed. Ray has restless sleep, having a nightmare that shows glimpses of his past. He goes to the gym and tests out his new body. He is super strong and he sees his body repair after any damage, as he notes when he hits a concrete pillar. He encounters KT whilst down in the gym. She is having a swim.

She invites him to have a drink with her. As they drink, a song comes over the radio and it triggers Ray’s memory of Gina getting killed and his own murder. Ray wants vengeance and decides to go after Axe. Harting mobilises his team. He contacts Ray, as the technology Ray has in his body allows Harting to connect with him directly. Ray tells him he will return but he has to kill Axe.

Ray uses all the technology in his body to track Axe. He tracks him down and kills him. He returns to the team and they take him back to the lab as, after the damage his body has sustained during his mission, he needs to be recharged. Back at the lab, Dalton goads Ray about his memories. As Ray goes back into regeneration, in the control room, Harting is talking to Eric (Siddharth Dhananjay), who is a computer wizard.

He tells Eric to recreate the story sequence. All of Ray’s memories are a scenario loaded into a computer. KT comes into the control room. Harting questions her wanting to know why she deviated from the script. KT is not happy about the programme. She knows that Harting is killing people who used to work with him on the technology.

Harting tells her that after the next mission they will be able to sell the technology to the highest bidder. He has one more person he wants to get rid of. Nick Baris (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson). Harting loads Baris’ image into the story scenario. They run the scenario, this time Ray remembering Baris’ face as the murderer. Ray goes after Baris. Baris is in London. Dalton is disdainful of Ray, tired of him repeatedly falling for the same scenario.

In London, Baris, knowing what Harting is working on, knows that someone is coming for him. When Ray begins to attack his home, he calls on Wilfred Wiggins (Lamorne Morris) to bring a special weapon that he has created. Wiggins, a computer geek of a higher level than Eric, brings a case. Ray is getting close to Baris. He tells Wiggins to ready the weapon.

Harting, who is watching the whole incident unfold, wants to know what the weapon is. Eric tells him it is an electromagnetic pulse weapon. Harting tries to pull Ray back but Ray shuts him out. He gets to Baris and kills him before he is able to use the EMP. Wiggins activates the EMP shutting down electricity across the city as well as Ray.

Wiggins revives Ray and tells him that he has been killing people who worked on the technology with Harting. Ray decides to go and find his wife. Harting sends Tibbs and Dalton to retrieve Ray. Ray finds Gina. She tells him that they split up five years before. She has moved on with her life and has a family.

Ray gets attacked by Dalton and Tibbs. Tibbs put a device on him and Eric shuts his body down remotely. KT is ordered to go after Wiggins after trying to defy Harting. He shows her that he can end her life-saving technology at any time, forcing her to do as he instructs.

KT tracks down Wiggins and gets him. Harting speaks to Ray in a virtual space. Ray tells him he is going to kill him. KT returns and lies to Harting telling him she could not get Wiggins. Harting, who had decided to kill Ray, decides to send him after Wiggins instead. KT infiltrates the virtual reality and speaks to Ray in the scenario. Harting realises it is KT. She has also allowed Wiggins into the computer code.

Harting goes after KT. Wiggins revives Ray. Harting tries to kill KT but Wiggins has altered her apparatus and he no longer affects it. Harting sends Tibbs and Dalton to kill Ray. KT heads to the computer control room and blows it up.

Ray fights Dalton and Tibbs. Dalton kills Tibbs whilst trying to get to Ray. Ray defeats Dalton. Ray goes after Harting. Harting shoots him with a missile. Ray’s body comes back together. He walks toward Harting. He shoots him again. Ray catches the missile and blows up Harting and himself.

Wiggins brings him back to life and tells him that he has refined the technology so as he does not need to recharge. Ray goes and talks to KT and they watch the sun come up. The three drive off into the sunset. The end.

Bloodshot is an okay, perfectly watchable action, sci-fi. With Vin Diesel going full Vin – sleeveless tee, swagger and a scowl. Bloodshot was never going to be one to tax the brain. The twist of him being controlled by scenario implants was a nice one and elevated the story above similar fare even if it is not the most original.

Written by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer, from a comic by Kevin VanHook, Bob Layton and Don Perlin, the story is supposed to be a backdrop for the action but some of the action sequences are so laborious and over-the-top it is difficult to appreciate them. Directed by David S. F. Wilson, there is a lot of slo-mo employed for effect and too many of the action scenes are over-long.

The visual effects are quite good, very reminiscent of the latest Terminator films. Morris – best known for his turn in New Girl – is the light relief in the film and puts on a good English accent as the computer-genius Wiggins. González’s KT could have been any number of Latina actresses gracing our screens. Not that she is bad. It is just that the performance is not noteworthy.

Similarly, Heughan was always working uphill to make Dalton seem like anything other than a bully. Hernandez’s Tibbs leaves even less of an impression than González’s KT, such is the pointlessness of the character. Pearce, an actor who has turned in some incredible performances over his career, phones in another villain with a showing that any B movie actor could probably have brought.

As I have said, Bloodshot is watchable and quite good for the most part. The most eye-rolling thing is the CGI heavy, long to the point of boring, battle between Ray, Dalton and Tibbs. At one hundred and ten minutes long, Bloodshot does not feel as long as it is and moves swiftly through its runtime.

Bloodshot is a passable actioner and worth a look if you like a brain-in-neutral action film.

Coffee and Kareem – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: when an urban black kid finds out his mother is sleeping with a white cop, he hatches a plan to have the cop beaten up. When he goes to the place where he is told he can find some people to do the job, he witnesses a murder, he is forced to go on the run with the same cop. As well as the drug gang, the two find out they are also up against corrupt cops.

Is it any good?: A film with the imaginative title of Coffee and Kareem was never likely to be a masterpiece in cinema, a fact reflected by its paltry five-point score on IMDB. That being said, the film does have some mirth-some moments and is not completely terrible. A hit and miss comedy.

Spoiler territory: police officer James Coffee (Ed Helms) is waiting outside of the house as twelve-year-old Kareem (Terence Little Gardenhigh) gets on to the school bus. Coffee gets out of the car and goes into the house. He is seeing Kareem’s mother, Vanessa (Taraji P. Henson). As the two get amorous, Kareem glimpses them having sex.

At school, Kareem is telling his friend, Dominic (Chance Hurstfiled) about seeing his mother having sex with a policeman. A white policeman. Dominic tells him that his mum sleeping with a policeman could ruin his fledgeling rap career. Kareem agrees that’s why he paid another kid he knows twenty dollars so he could find Orlando Johnson (RonReaco Lee), a local gangster/rapper, who he plans to get to put a beatdown on Coffee.

Detective Watts (Betty Gilpin) is leading a team on a drug raid. They burst into a house where Johnson and some of his guys are stashing drugs. They storm the house and Johnson gets arrested. Coffee is taking him to be arraigned and he escapes. The escape is all over the news and Coffee is an embarrassment to the department.

Coffee, whilst making a formal complaint against Watts for bullying, is told by the captain, Hill (David Alan Grier), that he is, due to his mishap, now on traffic duty. Vanessa tells a colleague, Sharon (Arielle Tuliao), that Kareem has asked her to let James pick him up from school. Sharon says it will be a good chance for them to bond. Vanessa calls James and asks him to pick up Kareem. Coffee, against his better judgement, agrees to pick the boy up.

Coffee picks up Kareem who, even as he is getting into the car, proves to be problematic. Kareem precedes to ask inappropriate questions. He asks Coffee to take him to a friends house and directs him to a very sketchy neighbourhood. He tells him to wait in the car while he goes and speaks to his friend. Coffee waits.

In a closed gym, Kareem comes across Johnson and two of his crew, Dee (William ‘Big Sleep’ Stewart) and Rodney (Andrew Batchelor). Johnson is questioning a bloodied policeman, Steve Choi (Terry Chen), whose ear has been cut off by Dee. Johnson notices Kareem. He asks why is he there. Kareem tells him that he was told to ask for Rodney. Rodney tells his crew that he is trying to recruit younger people.

Kareem starts to tell Johnson that he wants a cop hurt. Coffee is oblivious of the goings-on in the gym. Choi starts to plead for his life and he also tells Johnson that he is going to get cut out of the deal. Dee, irritated by Choi’s whining, puts six bullets in him, killing him. Kareem’s phone, which was in his breast pocket, records the whole incident.

Outside, Coffee hears the gunshots and scrambles out of his car. He tries to sneak into the gym but Johnson and his crew hear him. Johnson and Coffee exchange words but Dee starts shooting and Kareem runs. He drops his phone as he and Coffee run. In the alley behind the gym, Coffee breaks a car window and opens the boot. He and Kareem hide in the boot.

The owner of the car, Steve (Garfield Wilson), returns to see his car window broken. He is furious. Johnson calls his boss and tells them that Coffee has seen him. From the boot of the car, Coffee call Watts and tells her he has found Johnson and that they killed Choi. They both start shouting in the boot, making Steve stop the car. They steal Steve’s car.

Johnson and his crew drive past Steve. They ask him if he has seen Coffee and Kareem. He tells them that they went in the other direction. They drive off and leave him stranded as well. Coffee and Kareem return to Kareem’s home to pick up Vanessa. She does not know that they are being pursued by Johnson’s crew. As Vanessa tries to get an explanation as to why Coffee is wanted for abducting Kareem, Kareem sees Johnson and his crew pulling up outside the house.

Vanessa decides to call the police as Coffee argues with her. Kareem shoots her with a taser gun and they all leave. Coffee takes them to a motel that he and Vanessa have used before. They handcuff a still unconscious Vanessa to the toilet. A report comes over the news saying that Coffee is wanted for the murder of Choi as well.

Kareem makes Coffee promise not to see his mum again and to take him to a strip club. They go to find Kareem’s phone. A reward for Coffee apprehension is seen by the motel night man who calls the police. Kareem explains to Coffee what it takes to not be bullied. Be aggressive and gay. Really gay.

They find the location of his phone and Coffee tells Kareem that he is going in alone. He is caught as soon as he enters the building. Kareem, ignoring instructions, comes in and distracts the gunman. Coffee knocks him out. They move through the location, Kareem distracting and Coffee taking out henchmen. They find Johnson but Kareem is distracted by some women going to a changing room.

Coffee goes after Johnson and they end up fighting. Kareem comes and points a gun at them both. Coffee gets up and takes the gun. They take Johnson to another location and Coffee interrogates him about his operation. He tells them that all cops are dirty and he does not trust them.

Kareem vouches for Coffee’s character. Johnson tells him that Watts is behind everything. There is a big deal going down that same night at the Old Steel Mill. Vanessa wakes up and reads a note left by Kareem. Rodney and Dee have found her location and plan to kill her. She sees them coming.

Coffee takes Kareem to a strip club where he plans to meet captain Hill. Hill turns up and Watts is with him. Watts kicks everyone out of the strip club. Hill tells Coffee he is dirty. Watts shoots Hill. She wants more money for herself. Kareem runs and Watts goes after him after wounding Coffee and dragging him outside.

Kareem steals a police car and knocks over Watts. He and Coffee drive off. Watts finds Johnson in the trunk of another police car and they both pursue Coffee and Kareem. Coffee and Kareem manage to evade Watts and Johnson. They race over to the motel to save Vanessa. Vanessa, it turns out, does not need saving. Though Coffee and Kareem do not know that, as when they get to the motel, she is not there.

Coffee and Kareem argue and Vanessa comes to find Coffee berating her son. She tells them that she took care of Rodney and Dee. Angry with Coffee, she takes Kareem and leaves. Watts men grab Vanessa and Kareem. Coffee realises he will have to save them.

Coffee records a message telling the world about Watts and where he is going. He goes to the Old Steel Mill, having made a deal with Watts to exchange himself for Vanessa and Kareem. He gets to the mill. Watts is waiting and tells him to get out of the car. After a little back and forth, Coffee gets out of the car. He has two grenades in his hands.

Watts thinks he is bluffing and that the grenades are fake. She shoots him in the shoulder causing him to drop the grenades. The grenades now live, Coffee kick the grenade at Watts and her crew. They all scatter except Dee who gets blown up. Watts screams because the grenade also destroys some of her drugs.

Kareem and Vanessa escape from Watts during the confusion. She sends Johnson after them. He catches up with them but cannot kill them as he admits he is not a killer and never has been. Watts tries to do her drug deal with the Canadian drug lord. As the deal is going down the Detroit police turn up. The drug lord and his crew think they are being set up and shots fly. Watts crew fire back.

Watts is determined to get her money. She starts shooting everybody, even her people. Coffee tells Vanessa and Kareem to run whilst he and Johnson shoot at Watts’ people. They escape and Watts comes after Coffee and Johnson. She shoots at them and Coffee tells Johnson to leave. He and Watts fight. He hits Watts with the case filled with money and she is distracted and grabs for the money.

One of the Canadian drug people lets off a grenade blowing up the warehouse. A half-burnt Coffee staggers out. A fireman finds Watts and brings her out. She sees Coffee and tries to kill him. Vanessa shoots her dead. Kareem agrees to let Coffee see his mother. The end.

Coffee and Kareem is a hit and miss comedy that it is hard to know who it is aimed at. With Henson, the biggest name but still not finding the same sort of vehicle for her talents that Empire has been and Helm best remembered for his turns in The Hangover series, both are stars of vehicles that have been adult in their content and approach.

That the youngest member of the cast, Gardenhigh, should be the one to spout the most profanity is kind of half the fun but the title lends itself to something that one might think more child friendly. It is not. Shane Mack’s script is heavy on profanity with any sort of subtlety completely absent.

The story exists simply so as Gardenhigh’s Kareem can deliver insults. The story really is not up to much and truthfully it does not matter. The acting is good from all and played straight with the comedy elements working well when it comes to the verbal exchanges.

The comedy works less well when it comes to the visual comedy except for Henson’s Vanessa beating down Stewarts’ Dee and Batchelor’s Rodney. Directed by Michael Dowse, the film whizzes comfortably through its eighty-eight-minute runtime and is a brain in neutral experience.

Scoring a lowly five on IMDB, Coffee and Kareem is not going to go down in the pantheons of comedic classics but – unless you are bothered by excessive profanity from a child – is an easy watch and has a good few chuckles.

Hollow Point – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A professor of ethics family is killed when they stray into the wrong part of town and witness a drug lord murder someone and get killed for witnessing it. After getting imprisoned for trying to exact revenge, the professor is recruited by his lawyer, who is also a secret vigilante, to join his crew of outside-the-law warriors.

Is it any good?: No. Nope. Nah. Not at all. This film is next level terrible. The script is woeful, the acting is terrible, the directing is terrible, the…you get my drift. Just bad.

Spoiler territory: A police detective, Amanda Ray (Juju Chan), her retired ex-partner, Damian Wakefield (Michael Paré) and a wealthy lawyer, Hank Carmac (Luke Goss), are a clandestine vigilante group working outside the law, meting out justice on those who slip through the legal cracks.

The three vigilantes, wearing balaclavas, storm a dreadlocked dealer and his crew as a deal is happening, busting in on the deal, guns blazing, shooting the dealer and all of his men. Ray, of oriental descent, hands out a bit of a choppy-socky beating to a few of the henchmen to show her fighting prowess, her massive fifty-five-kilo frame punching and kicking men twice her size and weight all around the rooftop.

Meanwhile, Hank is shouting expletives at the buyer, Redlock (Samuel Evan Horowitz), who has his hands up in surrender. Redlock, who has a gun pointed at him, is a drug dealer, not a rocket scientist, thus his lack of understanding of physics and overconfidence make him decide he can reach for a gun and shoot the man in a balaclava who is pointing a gun at him. He can’t. He dies.

It is daytime and Doctor Nolan Cooray (Dilan Jay), a professor of ethics in law, is teaching a class of eager students. After the class, he drives home and gets a call from his wife, Audra (Angie Simms). She is stuck in traffic with their daughter, Mindy (Sofiya Suarez) and tells him she is running late for dinner. Nolan tells her he will cook.

Audra decides to turn off of the main road, to get out of the jam as she ends the call with her husband. Nolan reaches home and begins cooking. Audra rolls up on some men having an altercation. She sees one of the men pull out a gun and kill someone. He then walks over to the car – she helpfully waits for him – and kills her and her daughter. A neighbour sees him kill the mother and daughter.

Nolan is getting worried. He calls the police but it has not been a long enough period for his family to be considered missing. The police knock on his door, detective Chuck Bryant (Roger Guenveur Smith) and detective Emily Plaza (Natalie Burn). They tell him that his family is dead.

Detective Bryant tells Nolan that his family was in the wrong place at the wrong time, witnesses of a turf war. Nolan, who obviously lives in a different world from the rest of us where killer drug dealers are reasonable, is shocked to hear that was the reason. Did he think his family was part of a drug deal gone wrong or undercover cops?

Anyhow, the man who killed them, Trigger (Jay Mohr) – easily the best thing in the film – who is identified by the neighbour witness in a police line-up. Trigger is not at all fazed by being in custody.

Harold Kelso (Kirk Fox), a sleazy businessman, has Catalina (Malea Rose) doing some paperwork for him. Kelso gives Catalina a glass of drugged wine. When she succumbs to the effects of the drug, he rapes her. The three vigilantes come to visit Kelso. Ray slaps him about a bit and shows him a whole slew of photos of women he has employed and assaulted. After a bit of physical persuasion, Kelso admits to raping the women. They report him to the police and leave.

The detectives find the witness, Wanda Esparza (Crystal Leah Chacon). She has been strangled. They inform Nolan. The next day, Nolan goes and buys a gun. He goes to a drug dealer, Jinx (Anthony Hull) and gets Trigger’s address. He goes to Trigger’s house and tries to kill him. He gets beat up but manages to get his gun on Trigger. The police come before he can shoot Trigger.

Nolan gets convicted of attempted murder and assault. In prison, another prisoner, Cam (Peter Lee Thomas), takes a dislike to him and threatens him on the first day. Nolan sits with an older prisoner who befriends him.

At their local bar, Soi Dog Tavern, Wakefield steps in to teach some yobs manners – cans of whoop-ass aplenty – when they chauvinistically abuse the waitress, Hanna (Amanda Crown). Hank is in the prison library chatting with one of his clients. Nolan is reading downstairs when Cam comes and propositions him. Nolan pushes him and gets a beat down before Hank intervenes and – unsurprisingly – open more cans of whoop-ass on Cam and his, suddenly eager to get their asses kicked, friends.

In the infirmary, Nolan is spoken to by the head guard, James (Bill Duke). He tells him he needs to stay out of trouble – which, of course, had not entered his mind – and learn to survive – another pearl of wisdom for the stupid. He also tells him he needs to learn to fight otherwise he will get ‘popped’, because it is a gladiatorial arena in prisons, with bodies of the fallen strewn everywhere.

James proceeds to tell Nolan – and us – about Hank, a man who lives by a ‘code’ and other such bollocks. Back in his cell, Nolan remembers his wife and daughter being killed. Even though he was not there. Hank tells Ray and Wakefield about Nolan and his case. He decides to help him. He sends him BOOKS on self-defence. Nolan does press-ups and shadow boxes. The older prisoner tells him he needs to get out of there – stating the bleedin’ obvious – and let go of his anger, as he gives him a prison tattoo.

Ten months pass, Nolan is eligible for parole and Hank is helping him. One of the guards is taking Nolan to another cell but it is a setup. He pushes him into a fight with Cam. He beats him easily, having learned all his moves from the books. Nolan gets thrown into solitary. The next day, despite his violent act, Hank vouches for his character and he is released.

Hank takes him home but not before offering him an open invitation to meet with him and his friends at the tavern. Nolan takes him up on his offer a few days later. The crew take Nolan on one of their night missions. They grab Jinx and want to know who his dealer is. After Hank threatens to kill him, Jinx gives up a name; Omari (Tony Tambi). Hank shoots him in the foot.

Nolan is shaken by the crew’s violent methods. Wakefield questions Hank’s judgement but Hank tells him that he is sure Nolan will come around. Nolan does some press-ups and comes around. Detective Bryant tells Nolan that Hank was looking into DNA samples from Wanda and thinks Trigger may have killed her. Nolan goes to see Hank.

He wants to know why he was looking for a DNA sample. Hank explains to him that he will use any methods to achieve their objective. So there is that. Nolan joins the crew as they go to see Omari. After shooting a couple of henchmen and tiny Ray kicking one in the head, Hank asks Omari for his stash.

Omari acts as if he does not know what he is talking about. Hank tells Nolan to smash his hand. Omari tries to brave his way through the pain. Nolan smashes his hand again and Omari gives up his drug stash and the money. Hank burns the drugs. Ray contacts detective Plaza to arrest Omari and his crew. He tells Nolan that they always burn the drugs and give the money to the city.

Hank tells Nolan why he does what he does it and how his wife got beat up and raped by Aryan followers on the orders of a man he had gotten convicted for life. She committed suicide some years after. Doesn’t really explain anything, though it is a horrible story. The detectives get good news. The DNA matches Trigger’s.

Nolan turns up at the precinct wanting to know if they have picked him up. Detective Bryant tells him they cannot find him. Ray sees him in the precinct and warns him not to come there again. She takes her concerns to Hank. Hank is sure Nolan is one of their kind. Hank and the crew go to see Nolan the next day. He persuades Nolan that he can find Trigger.

They go to find Trigger and use Jinx – never was a name so apt – to find him. Nolan, who is now totally on board with extreme violence, smashes Jinx’s legs with a wrench. Jinx quickly divulges a location. The crew roll to Trigger’s safe house. Elsewhere, detective Plaza has been tipped off to Trigger’s possible whereabouts and gets in a helicopter.

The crew storm Trigger’s house and start shooting. Trigger runs. Nolan and Wakefield catch up with him. Wakefield tells Nolan to shoot him but Nolan is reluctant. Elsewhere, Ray is, once again, showing her martial arts prowess, kicking seven shades out of a couple of henchmen.

Trigger runs again and Nolan pursues him. They fight and Nolan gives him a beating. When Nolan gets up, Trigger reaches for a gun. Nolan shoots him. Detective Plaza, who was in a helicopter remember and knew where they were, arrives after the event and witnesses it all as self-defence. The crew leave it to the authorities. The end.

Hollow Point is awful. It is not unwatchable and I have seen worse action films but it is still poor. Except for Jay Rohr and, for the most part, Dilan Jay, the acting is pretty wooden. Luke Goss, who has now been an actor longer than he was a pop star, shows no signs of becoming a credible actor. Maybe it is the projects he picks or maybe he just cannot act.

Written by Chad and Evan Law and Daniel Zirilli, who also directs, it is hard to believe that three people combined to write a story this weak. The central premise was strong enough without the subpar Underground Six vibe. Nobody learns to fight from books. It’s a nonsense.

The detective roles served little to no purpose in the film. They neither moved the story forward nor added to it. Multiple witnesses seeing Trigger kill people just helped to increase the body count. Jinx, who had been shot in the foot only days before, was available for a bit more torturing so shortly after sustaining a gunshot wound? As for the Omari strand of the story…why? Once again it added nothing. Nolan asks Hank about his reasons and Hank just happened to walk around with a crumpled photo of his dead wife in his jeans pocket – not in his wallet – his pocket!

The directing is not much better and the editing is just horrible. The film is only eighty-nine minutes long but is still too long. Not because it is a painful watch but because there are so many unnecessary scenes in the film. The opening scene serves no purpose, the bar scene serves no purpose, the detectives I’ve already mentioned, the extra witness and finding Trigger’s DNA on her did not serve any purpose because he gets killed anyway!

Bill Duke – who has been in far better films – as James, is utilised for a frankly terrible and unimaginative exposition scene that does little to improve or push the story forward. This film is a real mess. The budget is only one million dollars but it is still too much. Hollow Point, in case you are not sure how I feel about it, is a turd of a film. Avoid at all cost.

Spenser Confidential

Brief synopsis: When ex-cop Spenser (Mark Wahlberg) gets out of prison and hears that dirty cop and his old captain, Boylan (Michael Gaston) who he got sent to prison for assaulting, got killed his curiosity is piqued. When another police officer, Terence Graham (Brandon Scales) is also killed and it is made to look like a suicide, a sceptical Spenser investigates.

Is it any good?: Spenser Confidential, based on the old, short-lived but enjoyable mid-eighties show, Spenser: For Hire, is a modern interpretation which sees Wahlberg bring his gritty Wahlberg-ness to proceedings. Somewhere between his Dignam in The Departed and his Lugo in Pain and Gain, Wahlberg comfortably carries a conspiracy actioner by the numbers. Not great but watchable.

Spoiler territory: After getting a going-away present of a failed attempt on his life from lifer Squeeb (Austin Post), Spenser is collected, on his release from prison, by his old friend, Henry (Alan Arkin). Henry takes him to his home and tells him he has a room for him. Spenser is unable to return to his old home which he shared with his girlfriend Cissy (Iliza Shlesinger), who is not one to rein in her anger or emotions.

Spenser finds that he is sharing a room with a hulk of a man called Hawk (Winston Duke). Hawk trains at Henry’s boxing gym. The next day, one of Spenser’s ex-colleagues, Driscoll (Bokeem Woodbine) comes to see him. He tells him that Boylan has been murdered and that he is, because of his past with Boylan, a suspect.

Henry tells them that Spenser was home all night. Driscoll leaves. Spenser goes and joins a truck driving class. He plans to buy a truck and drive to Arizona. He cannot get the murder of Boylan out of his head. Henry asks him to train Hawk. Spenser initially refuses but Henry insists.

Later, Spenser and Henry see that a young police officer, Terence Graham, has apparently committed suicide, according to news reports. Spenser does not believe the reports. He knew Graham and believed he was a good cop. He goes to see Terence’s widow, Letitia (Hope Olaide Wilson). She tells him that she was told that Terence was a dirty cop and that she could be charged as an accessory.

Letitia tells him about a bar where Terence went to meet Boylan. Spenser goes to the bar. It is a popular haunt for the police and they do not like Spenser as he is known for beating up another cop. Spenser gets a beating. They throw him out of the bar. Spenser notices a security camera facing the bar from a store across the road.

He enlists the help of Hawk to recall the footage of Terence leaving the bar. He goes and checks out the scene of Boylan’s murder. He goes to see Driscoll and asks about Terence. Driscoll tries to discourage him from looking into the case. While out to lunch with Hawk and after reconnecting with Cissy, Spenser sees the car he saw on the security video. He tries to chase the car but it gets away. Luckily for Spenser, Hawk remembers the number plate.

The number plate belongs to Bentwood (James DuMont). Spenser knows of him from his patrol days. He was a goon for hire and killed and hired people to kill a young woman, Gloria Weisnewski (Alexandra Vino). When he found out that the homicide department, headed by Boylan, was not even looking at her case, he went and confronted him.

Later on, he was contacted by a reporter, Wayne Cosgrove (Marc Maron), who shows him a tape of the murder. Spenser confronts Boylan again, this time at his home and assaults him which resulted in his prison time and loss of career.

Spenser watches Bentwood and follows him. He sees that he is being watched and photographed by some other people. He realises they are federal agents and approaches them. They give him short shrift, agent Burton (Ayana Brown) gives him her card and tells him to contact them if he finds out anything.

Spenser returns to prison to talk to Squeeb. He shows him a live stream of his wife getting chatted to by Hawk to persuade him to talk. It works. Squeeb tells him one word; Wonderland.

He goes to see Cosgrove and asks him if he knows anything about it. Cosgrove tells him that it is a big venture involving many shady parties wanting to create the next large gambling mecca. Spenser says if he brings the evidence, will he expose it. Cosgrove is not confident that Spenser can get sufficient proof to expose the corruption.

Boylan’s funereal is attended by Driscoll and several other police officers. Amongst the officers present, another crooked cop, Maklin (Kip Weeks), talks to Driscoll about Spenser. He says they have to kill him. Spenser goes into a local Mexican restaurant to get some food and is attacked. Hawk gets him out of trouble.

With his location compromised and worried about Henry, they all move into Cissy’s place. Letitia, who had been at her husband’s funereal, returns home to find her place a wreck. She calls Spenser. She gives him a wire that Terence had been wearing as part of his investigation in conjunction with the federal agents. He and Hawk listen to the tape. Boylan is confessing to Terence about the whole corrupt operation. He tells Terence that everybody works for Driscoll.

Spenser goes to confront Driscoll. He tells him to come clean. Driscoll refuses. Spenser takes the tape to the feds. They say it is not enough. Spenser takes matters into his own hands and goes and gets information out of Brentwood. They grab one of the trucks that have the drug stash that Driscoll is using to raise money for the Wonderland venture.

They take it to Cosgrove. He says it is not enough. He takes the van to Cissy’s place. Henry is gone. Spenser gets a call from Driscoll. He has Henry and he is at Wonderland. He tells Spenser to bring his drugs. Spenser formulates a plan to get Henry back.

Cissy drives into Wonderland and gets Henry. Spenser and Hawk come smashing in and create a diversion so as they can getaway. Driscoll runs off and Spenser gives chase. Spenser catches up with Driscoll. They fight and Spenser eventually overpowers him. He leaves Driscoll and the evidence for the feds.

After all the parties are convicted, Spenser, Hawk, Cissy and Henry watch the news. One of Spenser old highschool friends is seen getting arrested. Spenser thinks he is innocent but the others do not want him to get involved. The end.

Spenser Confidential is an enjoyable though not overly taxing film. Wahlberg is perfectly cast as the ex-cop/con with a moral compass that makes him want to right wrongs. Ably supported by Duke’s Hawk, as well Alda’s Henry and with the potty-mouthed Shlesinger’s Cissy completing the central quartet, Spenser Confidential is an old fashioned, brain-in-neutral, good against evil actioner.

For anyone who watches a lot of films, the appearance of Woodbine’s Driscoll was probably like an alarm going off, screaming ‘here’s the bad guy!’. Woodbine, as good an actor as he has been in other projects, can pretty much phone-in a bad guy performance.

Embracing that niche occupied by the likes of Robert Knepper and Eric Roberts, Woodbine’s presence in proceedings pretty much signposts the direction of the film.

With the old ‘dirty cops’ and ‘everybody’s in on it’ storyline in effect, Spenser Confidential potters along exactly as one would expect. With a runtime of one hundred and ten minutes, the action is engaging enough to keep you interested and the comedy, mostly provided by Shlesinger’s great turn as the abrasive Cissy, is good enough to amuse.

None of the actors on show is required to go to any great emotional lengths and the film goes more for feel good rather than deep feels. With the film currently sitting as the most-watched film on Netflix – they have decided to publish, on-site, which shows are the most popular – the intimation of a possible sequel at the end of Spenser Confidential seems more probable than possible.

Spenser Confidential is watchable and enjoyable with absolutely no surprises. Worth a look if only for Shlesinger’s performance.