Final Score (2018)

Posted in Reviews by - April 08, 2022
Final Score (2018)

This is clearly a shonky film, but at least director Scott Mann has the wherewithal to make his ‘Die Hard in a football stadium’ really silly – and it’s all the better for it. It’s the story of two Russian revolutionaries (played by two British actors, Pierce Brosnan and Ray Stevenson, putting on their hammiest accents) whose decades-long feud over a political coup in “Sekovia” is played out over a football match at the Boleyn Ground, home of London-based soccer team, West Ham United. Hammers fans will know this movie for being the stadium’s swan song before its demolition in 2017. Russian terrorist Arkady (Stevenson) does his bit to help out the local council’s demolition efforts by strapping C-4 to the structure, while beating up the security guards and killing the TV pundits (including ex-West Ham players Tony Cottee and Rufus Brevett in a bizarre and hilarious sequence), in a bid to spring his former buddy from the stands. In amongst this personal and political drama sits the American US Navy SEAL, Knox (Bautista, with a charming if one-note performance), trying his best to bond with the teenaged daughter of a former army buddy who was killed under his watch back in Afghanistan. Knox blames himself, of course, so he seeks retribution, finding it when he uncovers the terrorists’ plot. He starts taking out the baddies in an efficient, Bruce Willis style, with recognisable British stunt performers meeting a grisly end: Rocky Taylor takes a bullet in the gut; Lee Charles is ended after a bust-up in a lift; Martyn Ford gets his head shoved in a deep fat fryer. Bautista is essentially the last person you could imagine standing in the terraces watching a West Ham game, so Mann does well to play-up to his incongruousness. He struggles to fit through the turnstiles, and complains about “shitty warm pints of beer”. The fight scenes are crunchy, visceral, and effective, with some of the action bordering on the ludicrous; a rooftop chase on a motorbike is a particularly nutty green-screen delight. And despite all the chaos, the football game continues throughout! The film is constantly juxtaposing the action on the pitch with the action in the stadium, so when Bautista cracks another skull, Jonathan Pearce’s commentary will say something like, “what a strike!” It’s touches like this which make the film endearing. As a leading man, Bautista may still need to work on his range, but as another exercise in extending his gruff ‘heavy with a heart’ persona, this is a nice transitional film in his always evolving career.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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