Fred Williamson is a favorite here at Shitty Movie Sundays. He has taken the idea of one-dimensional acting and spread it out across six decades of b-cinema. I’ve seen a number of his films and he plays the same guy, in the same way, in every single one of them…even the ones that take place in the future. He’s a cigar chomping badass who shoots straight, punches hard, and, runtime willing, always gets the ladies. The last couple of decades have seen him transition into an elder statesman version of the role, but the basics are there. In Atomic Eden, Williamson plays Stoker, a mercenary commander who takes on a tough, and very important, mission in the shadow of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
Written by Nico Sentner and Dominik Starck, with direction from Starck, Atomic Eden features the typical motley crew of fellow badasses one finds in an ensemble action flick. It’s not worth going through them all and their particular lethal specialties. But, it is worth pointing out that just about everyone who had a major speaking role in this flick also got some sort of producer credit. Sentner and Starck both had prominent roles as mercenaries under Stoker’s command, as well. All the mercs are unique, compared to each other, and also forgettable. This flick has the kind of character chemistry more typical of 2010’s Predators, rather than the original.
The mission is a big one. Way back in World War 2, somewhere near where Chernobyl would be built, the Nazis dug out a bunch of secret tunnels where they constructed a doomsday device, capable of ending the world. When the Soviets got wind of what was beneath the area later on, they blew up the reactor at Chernobyl so the area would be permanently irradiated, preventing anyone from finding the device. Now, decades later, radiation levels have decreased, and it’s up to Stoker and his crew to find this movie’s MacGuffin before some bad guys do.
The tunnels are underneath an old Soviet mining facility, and that’s where Stoker and company hole up. In real life, some abandoned factory offices somewhere in Germany played the facility. It’s nicely rundown, and when combined with stock footage of Pripyat, makes for a fine location for this type of movie.
Who are the bad guys? A bunch of extras in white hazmat suits. That’s it. There is no evil leader or main bad guy to root against. The vast majority of these baddies remain anonymous, and not one is ever referred to by name.
So, that’s pretty much it for the plot. We have our heroes and bad guys; we have a location where just about anything goes; enough cash in the budget for lots of prop guns, blank rounds, blood squibs, hazmat suits and gas masks; and a martial arts expert in the cast (Mark Möller), whose high flying fight choreography more than makes up for Williamson’s aging.
There is attack, retreat, attack, repeat. Many, many bad guys die. Some good guys die. Leading to the kind of denouement with which audiences of cheesy action movies will be familiar. Then it sets itself up for a sequel that, at this juncture, has not been made.
There isn’t much in the way of objective quality in Atomic Eden. This feels much like a passion project from Sentner, perhaps enlisting help from friends. The performances are amateur hour, and they all knew it. How the money was scraped together I have no idea, but I appreciate that they found enough to bring on Williamson, and that he was game.
Atomic Eden does all it can to entertain the audience, despite it being a low rent, dirty dog of a movie. It will be most satisfying to those of us who are into bad movies, and those of us who are into action any way we can get it. Because of its decent pace and silly acton set pieces, it stays out of the nether reaches of the Watchability Index, taking over the #231 spot from Day the World Ended.