24th Sep2015

‘AWOL-72’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Luke Goss, Bokeem Woodbine, RZA, Louis Mandylor, Brooke Newton, Heather Roop, Tomoko Karina, Leif Gantvoort, Mary Christina Brown, Marco Khan | Written by Christian Sesma, Cecil Chambers | Directed by Christian Sesma


Conrad Miller (Luke Goss), is an AWOL military officer who has been accused of selling secrets to ex-KGB during the cold war. When Miller realises he has been tracked by his counterpart hitman Myron (Bokeem Woodbine), his love and his compromise are threatened, and he does the only thing humanly possible. He runs. The Soviets enlist the services of Detective Adams (Rza) to aid them in the hunt to track down Miller by any means necessary. Miller has 72 hours to make his rendezvous point and get out of the country with his love and the only secrets that will keep him alive…

Another week, another direct to market movie starring Luke Goss – a man who seems to be carving quite the career for himself as an action hero for the VOD generation. Like War Pigs, released earlier this month, AWOL-72 sees Goss play another grizzled soldier – this time absent without leave from his unit and on the run from pretty much everyone; yet still unable to walk away from those in distress. Kind of like a modern day one-man A-Team!

First-person footage; an odd turn into backwoods hillbilly territory, with psychos who it turns out are also people traffickers; Luke Goss trying to save every woman he meets (maybe a case of OCD?)… you can’t say AWOL-72 doesn’t have moments of utter genius – or is it madness? – scattered throughout it’s brief running time. Yet despite the crazy machinations that take place, there’s an odd sense of mundanity to proceedings, undoubtedly due to the total lack of excitement and/or tension, and the snails pace in which the core of this story actually reveals itself.

Sadly not even the action is safe from feeling mundane – even when writer/producer/director Christian Sesma stages a John Woo-esque gunfight replete with dutch angles, moody lighting and orgiastic violence, the exhiliration and intensity just isn’t there to generate even a spark of excitement. It also doesn’t help that the majority of the films plot “twists” are as cliched and predictable as possible – even to the point of being telegraphed by the script!

To be fair to Luke Goss, he can – and has – done better than he does here. His schtick: smouldering good looks and a quiet demeanour hiding a hard man of action hero proportions, is in full effect in AWOL-72 but that’s all his character, Conrad, has. There’s no real depth to him, which is all down to a script that is stretched out as far as it can with little more to it than key plot points and action beats. Even the final reveal, of just why everyone wants Conrad and his “asset”, fails to convince thanks to the muddled script and lacklustre direction. Although at least Goss actually puts in an effort. Both RZA and particularly Bokeem Woodbine, seem to be going through the motions for the sake of another film credit and (I’d hope) a decent pay cheque; whilst Louis Mandylor is wasted in little more than a cameo as a dirty cop.

It’s a shame; given a tighter pace, a heafty polish of the script and a decent soundtrack (another part of the movie that falls flat), AWOL-72 could have been a great post-Cold War thriller, something of a direct to DVD “Bourne” if you will. But as it stands now, it’s yet another forgettable straight to market movie that will no doubt be forgotten by the time it falls out of the DVD charts.

AWOL-72 is out now on DVD and VOD, courtesy of Praslin Pictures.


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