A quick shout out here to the unheralded hero of many a movie, the casting director.
That person is responsible for populating the background faces in group scenes, and in bringing in the right folks for smaller supporting roles.
Not an easy job for a bloke like Colin Jones, charged with finding villains big enough to be menacing to that round mound of muscle, Dave Bautista.
Sure, veteran heavy Ray Stevenson towers over most mere mortals. But rounding up monstrous gym rats like Martyn Jones was a must for “Final Score,” a Dave-against-Terrorists tale set in a soccer stadium.
This 2018 release tapped into the ongoing repression/invasion politics of Putin’s Russia for a sort of “Sudden Death” remake with “football” instead of hockey and Van Damme instead of Bautista –“”Die Hard’ on the Soccer Pitch.”
It’s got some cool action beats and epic brawls, the occasional clever bit of work-the-problem life-or-death situations, and one of the funniest third act racial gags in the history of action cinema.
The story? Could’ve been written by a cheap phone app.
Bautista plays an ex-military chap who constantly checks in on the family of a fallen London comrade. Teenaged Danni (Lara Peake) has braces and a passion for tantrums and rash decisions and could use a little “Uncle Mike” father figure help.
So, a little bonding at the West Ham vs. Russian champs “Dynamo” match it is. Until Danni sneaks off to be with her jerk boyfriend, and Mike’s gimlet-eyed attention is diverted by the beefy guys and gal in too many tattoos and Eastern European accents who seem to be everywhere they shouldn’t be in the stadium.
There’s a dastardly plot, a lot of explosives, some seriously fanatical terrorists and a hunt for Pierce Brosnan (taking a shot at speaking Eastern European) in the stands, with a stadium in lockdown and the hapless cops outside slow to figure all this out.
As if anybody hasn’t seen “Die Hard.”
Stevenson plays the mastermind, accenting his way through “Clearly you are a man of skeel and talent. I yam a man of WEEL. Do not TEST me!”
Amit Shah is the stadium security employee “Faisal” who deals with BREXIT racists every day, but a terrorist incident and the “lone hero” out to stop them on this one special day.
The violence is next-level when it comes to a savage fight in an elevator, a brutal beatdown in a kitchen and a ground level to rooftop motorcycle chase.
Helicopters, and “Take the SHOT!” are involved. Not that the stadium crowd ever notices a thing. Those Brits and their football.
Director Scott Mann did the all-star but little-seen “Heist” a few years back, and wrings what he can out of this tired plot. For me, the picture started with a bang, leveled off and then gently nose-dived in the third act. A few fun bits, only one truly funny line (It is a DOOZY.) and a couple of decent performances are what recommend this.
And again, kudos to the casting director, the guy who gave us hulking villains, a believably awkward punk teen or two and sadly a whole lot of cops and “SAS” folks who wound up making almost no impression at all.
Rating: R for strong violence and language throughout
Cast: Dave Bautista, Ray Stevenson, Lara Peake, Alexandra Dinu, Amit Shah and Pierce Brosnan.
Credits: Directed by Scott Mann, scripted by Keith Lynch, David T. Lynch and Jonathan Frank. A Saban Films/Lionsgate release on Netflix.
Running time: 1:44