'Final Score': Film Review

Been there, 'Die Hard' that.
9/14/2018

Dave Bautista, Pierce Brosnan and Ray Stevenson star in this thriller about terrorists threatening to destroy a stadum filled with people during a soccer game.

Its hero doesn't get to say "Yippee ki-yay, motherf---er," but that's about the only difference between Scott Mann's action thriller and the film that pretty much set its template. Slavishly imitative of Die Hard in ways too numerous to mention, Final Score is mainly notable for the lead performance by rising star Dave Bautista. Although unfortunately given little opportunity here to showcase the comic chops he's demonstrated in the Guardian of the Galaxy films, Bautista proves that he can easily carry an action vehicle.

Hopefully, he'll have more fruitful leading-man opportunities in the future than this effort, in which he plays Mike Knox, a Special Forces veteran who travels to London to visit the family he's taken under his wing. They're the wife (Lucy Gaskell) and daughter (Lara Peake) of his best friend whose battlefield death he feels responsible for, and he's especially eager to take the latter, 15-year-old Danni, to a soccer game.

Unfortunately for Mike, the stadium has been targeted by Arkady (Ray Stevenson, sporting a shaved head and heavy Slavic accent), the former leader of a revolution in the Russian state of "Sukovia." Arkady is intent on finding his brother Dmitri (Pierce Brosnan), who he believes betrayed him and who has since gone into hiding … but is not so hidden that he avoids crowded stadiums.

You can pretty much guess the rest. Mike finds himself desperately trying to find Danni, who wandered off to meet up with a boy, while attempting to battle the terrorists who threaten to blow up the venue and everyone in it. He gets occasional strategic assistance from an acerbic stadium employee, Faisal (Amit Shah), who also provides some much needed comic relief. And he communicates periodically with a police commander (Ralph Brown) on the scene, much like Bruce Willis' John McClane did with Reginald VelJohnson's cop in Die Hard. Meanwhile, the 35,000 fans in attendance raptly watch the game, unaware of the danger they're in despite the violent mayhem happening all around them.

Although Mike finds himself battling an array of bad guys, his chief opponents are the hulking Vlad (Martyn Ford, a bodybuilder who's actually bigger than Bautista, if that can be believed) and the even fiercer Tatiana (Alexandra Dinu), because every action movie must apparently now feature at least one female badass.

Director Mann impressively stages the graphically violent action (you'll never think of a deep fryer the same way again) and fight sequences, with a frenzied motorcycle chase throughout the stadium being the high point. And the screenplay by Jonathan Frank, David T. Lynch and Keith Lynch features some amusing gags about Americans' hatred of soccer, London's cold weather and warm beer, and Faisal pretending to be a Muslim terrorist to clear an area of people. On the other hand, there are way too many moments in which the characters engage in philosophical conversations and bare their psychological scars, as if they're in therapy rather than fighting for their lives.

Bautista has the low-key charisma, natural appeal and formidable physicality necessary for an action star, and he makes Final Score worth watching (at home while eating pizza and drinking beer, preferably) despite its endlessly derivative elements. And at this point, it's a pleasure to see Brosnan in any movie in which he doesn't warble ABBA tunes.

Production companies: Signature Films, Drybrake Productions, Highland Film Group, Ingenious Media
Distributor: Saban Films
Cast: Dave Bautista, Pierce Brosnan, Ray Stevenson, Julian Cheung, Lara Peake, Lucy Gaskell, Alexandra Dinu, Ralph Brown, Amit Shah, Martyn Ford
Director: Scott Mann
Producers: Dave Bautista, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Marc Goldberg, James Harris, Robert Jones, Mark Lane, Jonathan Meisner
Executive producers: Zakary Adler, Mark Canton, Arianne Fraser, Delphine Perrier, Courtney Solomon, Elizabeth Williams
Screenwriters: Jonathan Frank, David T. Lynch, Keith Lynch
Director of photography: Emil Tpuzov
Production designer: Matthew Button

Costume designer: Liza Bracey
Editor: Robert Hall
Composers: James Edward Barker, Tim Despic
Casting: Colin Jones

Rated R, 104 minutes

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