Get a load of that image above. That’s Ryan Phillippe as a Delta Force commando, shooting, punching and brawling his way to the rescue of his son, and that Supreme Court Justice’s daughter the kid crushes on — kidnapped as part of a pro-gun control conspiracy in a movie with the catchy title “The 2nd.”
Battered and bloodied, and armed with an assault rifle, he’s in need of a ride. So he’s written a sign in his own blood to indicate his intentions to anybody who might drive by.
That’s the cleverest touch in this pig-headed, ham-fisted “Die Hard” on a closed college campus.
Put Phillippe in the hero role, cast C-movie villain Casper Van Dien (“Starship Troopers”) as the suited, sunglassed heavy and dress screen newcomer Lexi Simonsen in cut-off shorts as the damsel in distress, and here we go!
It’s the sort of movie where the hero’s bonafides — his resume — is read out over the walkie talkie by the villain once they realize “who we’re dealing with.”
It’s the sort of movie where the kidnappers/terrorists are professionals in everything but slinging the accent of the country they’re supposed to be from. James Logan‘s character is Russian agent and a a master of dialects — Southern drawl to (Southern?) Russia?
“I ate man in GULAG!”
It’s a place where longtime heavies like Richard Burgi move up to “the heavy’s boss” roles, so that the next generation of bad guys can wear the shades.
It’s a film where all the baddies take dramatic sips from their whisky glass before and after delivering a line.
And it’s the sort of movie where I’d tell you to fast forward to the 77 minute mark, where our damsel — first seen in Posh SouCal College’s fencing class — throws down with a villainess, with swords.
“En garde, BITCH!”
I’d tell you that if that scene and that fight held any interest at all. But it doesn’t.
That’s the problem with “Die Hard” knockoffs. We’ve seen too many versions to be surprised. The brawls are paint-by-numbers. The bad guy “escapes” require hilarious “pauses” in the hero’s pursuit.
We’ve been treated to too many actors-turned-screenwriters (Paul Taegel) who might as well have “FOREshadowing!” in a flashing title on all the scenes where this character shows her swordplay or that one — the son (Jack Griffo) — lists all the martial arts his Delta Force dad has taught him over the years.
But hey, give a guy credit for some decent villain trash talk.
“I see subterfuge is pointless. Put the a—–e on!” “You know, three people can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”
Phillippe has found more interesting work on TV in recent years, with “Secrets and Lies” and “Shooter” giving him a career second wind.
But there’s no “acting” here, the shootouts and fistfights are OK but nothing special.
Films like “The 2nd” — quite aside from this one’s loopy “afterthought” politics — don’t burnish anybody’s resume.
MPA Rating: unrated, graphic violence
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Casper Van Dien, Lexi Simonsen, Jack Griffo, Richard Burgi, William Katt and James Logan
Credits: Directed by Brian Skiba, script by Paul Taegel. A Voltage film on Netflix.
Running time: 1:33