Die Hard in a soccer stadium. That thought went through my head before the end of the first act of Final Score, the 2018 action flick from director Scott Mann. That’s how the collective voice of the internet described the movie, as well, when doing my post-watch research. From conception to execution, there might not be a better example of a project staying true to its vision. It was pitched as Die Hard in a soccer stadium and that’s what audiences got. What they didn’t get was John McTiernan or Bruce Willis. But, that’s okay, because this flick is shitty.
Michael Knox (Dave Bautista) is an American military vet traveling to London. He’s there to visit and check in on the family of a soldier who was killed following one of Knox’s orders. Knox feels responsible, and drops in from time to time to check on them, especially teenaged Danni (Lara Peake). Knox shows up in town bearing a gift — a pair of tickets to the last match West Ham United play at Boleyn Ground before it’s closed.
Meanwhile, the stadium has been targeted for terroristic shenanigans by a group of Russian separatists, led by the evil Arkady Belav (Ray Stevenson). They close and lock all the gates, block cell and internet service over the entire grounds, pile up C4 around the stadium’s supports, and seize the control room. Why do they do all this? Does West Ham United store $600 million in bearer bonds underneath the bleachers? Nope.
Twenty years earlier, Arkady and his brother, Dimitri (Pierce Brosnan), led an insurrection against Russian rule in their home state, but lost. Dimitri was presumed dead, but in reality, he sold out the revolution because of the horrid death toll, and was placed into hiding by the British government in London. Arkady, somehow, found out his brother is still alive, and also found out that he would be attending this particular soccer match. He has dreams of rescuing Dimitri from his exile, returning home, and picking up the fight once again. It’s a silly plan.
Instead of just, you know, picking up Dimitri off of the street when he pops out for a pack of smokes, Arkady decides to hold an entire stadium full of people hostage. He didn’t seem to put much planning into how he would get back to the old homestead after carrying out a very public terror attack.
I think I know how. Poor filmmaking.
See, everyone outside of the stadium knows what’s happening. Arkady kills some studio analysts on national television to make sure of that. But the ignorance of the fans at the stadium is unrealistic. By the time this movie ends there have been multiple gunfights, a squad of military helicopters hovering over the stadium, and hundreds of muzzle flashes all within view of the fans. And none of them picks up on anything being wrong until the film’s climax. It’s absurd. But, if people in this film’s universe are that unobservant, maybe Arkady could pull off his plan.
It’s all so stupid, but it’s worth remembering that this is Die Hard in a soccer stadium. That’s what we were promised and Mann, along with screenwriters Jonathan Frank, David T. Lynch (the ‘T’ makes all the difference), and Keith Lynch, delivered that. There is a lot of gunplay and a lot of hand-to-hand combat. Bautista really can’t act worth a damn, but that’s not what this movie needed from him. He’s the good guy who goes after the bad guys. In a movie like this, toughness is more valuable than acting talent, and Bautista is one tough dude. Anyone who wrestles professionally is tough, and he’s been doing it for twenty years.
Mann did a decent enough job behind the camera. He keeps things moving along pretty well, but the entire package was just too much to believe. And it was totally shameless. My personal favorite moment of shitty filmmaking comes when Knox is trying to convince the local cops that their soccer stadium has been seized by terrorists. Knox solves the problem in the exact same way that John McClane did — by dead bad guy defenestration. It was perfect, and was enough to lock in a spot in the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index. I suppose Final Score could have been better or more outrageous, but it still does a good job of scratching the shitty movie itch. It slots well into the top half of the Index, coming in between Q — The Winged Serpent and DeepStar Six. Shitty movie fans should dig it.