My notes on Final Score, out in the UK on September 7.
Back in the heyday of the ‘Die Hard in a ….’ movie, Peter Hyams made one of the best entries in the knock-off cycle in Sudden Death, in which Jean-Claude Van Damme fought Powers Boothe and a band of villains who took over a stadium during a hockey match. In a particular highlight, JCVD fought a giant penguin mascot. Final Score – directed by Scott Mann from a script by Jonathan Frank, David T. Lynch and Keith Lynch – is ‘Die Hard in a football stadium’, and revives pleasant memories of those days as sensitive but violent merc Mike Knox (Dave Bautista) fights roided, tattooed killbastards from the made-up Russian near-breakaway nation of Sokovia (presumably not the one Ultron trashed) as he runs around Upton Park during a European cups semi-final between West Ham and Dynamo Somewhere while fiendish Arkady (Ray Stevenson) threatens to blow up the stands and 35,000 fans unless his long-thought-dead brother Dimitri (Pierce Brosnan) hands himself over to kick start another separatist movement.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously – when first told about the general carnage, Dimitri whines that he doesn’t want to miss the game for this, and in the only slow spot he delivers an Oscar clip monologue about the death of his favourite chicken that’s sort of supposed to convince Knox not to be too fussed about the imminent murder of his late best friend’s stroppy daughter Danni (Lara Peake). Fingers are chopped off and fried in chip fat, motorbikes chase across the roof of the stadium, Bautista dangles from a giant screen, a plucky-panicky steward (Amit Shah) has to risk his life for a racist old lady who’s been mean to him, the COBRA command guy (Ralph Brown) punches out a CIA creepo (Julian Cheung) who keeps calling football ‘soccer’, and near feral pint-sized Sokovian Tatiana (Alexandra Dinu) has a kill-on for Knox after he skewers her giant boyfriend (Martyn Ford) in an early fight. Bautista has that grumbly, scruffy, hero-with-a-secret-shame bit down pat, and the supporting cast step up whenever his energy flags.
Little screen time is allotted to the match, though it must be pretty rivetting since no one in the stands seems to notice all the action taking place on the sidelines. Ironically, despite the title we never do get a final score – without spoilering the climax too much, it undoubtedly means a replay.
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