Final Score, 2018.
Directed by Scott Mann.
Starring Dave Bautista, Pierce Brosnan, Lara Peake, Ray Stevenson, Martyn Ford, Alexandra Dinu, Craig Conway, Amit Shah, and Ralph Brown.
A former soldier must rescue his niece when the football stadium they are in is taken over by terrorists.
Remember that time back in the late ’80s/early ’90s when every action movie that came out was a carbon copy of Die Hard but set in a different location? Under Siege, Speed, Cliffhanger and Sudden Death all did the ‘wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time’ thing but they were made over 20 years ago. However, there has been a swing back towards that premise recently, with the Antonio Banderas vehicle Security and every film Liam Neeson does seemingly retreading old ground but with fresh production values.
And so now we have Final Score, a fast-paced action thriller that has more in common with Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Sudden Death than it does directly with Die Hard as it is set at a sporting event, only this one involves having to suspend disbelief a little more than usual as it features West Ham playing in a championship semi-final. If you can get past that piece of creative writing then Final Score manages to tick all of the boxes that make these sub-Die Hard knock-offs as enjoyably silly as they are; we have our terrorists in a gang of Russian revolutionaries led by the brutal Arkady Belav (Ray Stevenson – Punisher: War Zone) who is looking for his supposedly dead brother Dimitri (Pierce Brosnan – The Foreigner), we have a stadium packed with 35,000 people unaware that bombs have been planted in one of the stands, and we also have our hero Michael Knox (Dave Bautista – Spectre) who is at the game with his tomboy niece Danni (Lara Peake – How to Talk to Girls at Parties). Add to that a huge Russian henchman and his psychotic lover, an over-confident computer expert on hand to cut all the power, a stiff upper lipped police chief on the end of a radio and a comedy sidekick in the shape of Upton Park usher Faisal Khan (Amit Shah – Johnny English Strikes Again) and all bases are covered when it comes to characters. Throw in some choppily-edited fight scenes, guns, helicopters, motorbike chases and explosions and hey-ho – we have an action movie.
Which may be a flippant way of looking at it but Final Score is about as original as a tribute act’s setlist when it comes to plot. The funny thing is it seems to know it and ploughs ahead anyway, using recycled dialogue from any number of previous action standards – there are a couple of throwaway lines that definitely nod towards the Rambo movies – along with a few witty gems of its own (mainly thanks to Amit Shah and his predictable but still amusing racial commentaries), and throwing every cliché it can muster at the wall in the hope that some of them stick, and they do, as long as you don’t go expecting anything other than a wild ride and a fun time.
Dave Bautista proves once again that he is more than just a hulking presence – although he does get dwarfed by Martyn Ford as a Russian goon during one particularly nasty fight scene – and although the backstory the writers give Michael Knox is as textbook as it comes Bautista sells the character well enough to get us past the fact he is built like a brick privy and would stick out like a sore thumb in a crowd (leading to the most absurd plot detail in a movie filled with absurd plot details). He is backed up by a strong supporting cast including Ralph Brown (Alien 3), Craig Conway (Doomsday) and Alexandra Dinu (Exam) but Pierce Brosnan is sadly underused and not really given much to do once he shows up (although his presence does seem to give the film a lot more weight) and Lara Peake just does not have the chops to make Danni anything other than the whiny teenager she clearly does not want to be seen as, making her (thankfully brief) appearances a bit of a drag.
No, you can forget all of that deep emotional stuff that gets forced in as Final Score, as hackneyed and unimaginative as it is, does all of its action well enough to ignore the rest of it. The fights are intense and violent, the camerawork fast and the CGI effects fairly low-key and subtle, and although there are huge gaping holes in the plot – like how does nobody in the 35,000-strong crowd notice any of the gunshots? – it really doesn’t matter as the movie whizzes by in a flurry of adrenaline-fuelled ludicrousness that does not fail to tick the box marked ‘Entertaining’ amongst all of the other ones it crosses off. Final Score delivers exactly what it promises and as long as you can switch your brain off and accept the occasionally nonsensical plot without questioning it then there is nothing but a good time to be had.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★