19th Oct2017

‘Armed Response’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Wesley Snipes, Seth Rollins, Anne Heche, Dave Annable, Kyle Clements, Morgan Roberts, Eyas Younis, Mo Gallini, Mike Seal | Written by Matt Savelloni | Directed by John Stockwell

armed-response-dvd

Another month, another Wesley Snipes film. He sure is on the comeback trail now right? OK, maybe not, especially given that this, like Final Recall, has headed direct to DVD. To be fair though, the “another month, another…” could also apply to WWE studios, who seem to have gone back to churning out direct to market films much like when they first stepped into the world of film production. Following the usual standard of having one of the many WWE Superstars take a break from the wrestling ring and appear on-screen, Armed Response features the “Kingslayer” himself, Seth Rollins, in a supporting role – yes, a supporting role. Unlike ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Dolph Ziggler, John Cena, Randy Orton, The Miz, and hell, even Rollins’ current tag-team partner Dean Ambrose, all of whom HEADLINED productions from WWE Studios, Seth Rollins gets a supporting role. What is he, David Otunga?

It seems VERY odd to have one of the WWE’s biggest in-ring stars, and a man who knows how to work a mike and cut excellent promos, relegated to what is a bit-part in a film. A film that doesn’t even really “star” Wesley Snipes; or make much of the appearance of award-winning actress Anne Heche to be honest. At least Heche and Rollins get to go head-to-head in one of the films more interesting moments – not that the rest of the film is that interesting… The star of this movie, well insomuch as he plays the films lead character, is Dave Annable. Now that name might leave you asking the same question I did… Who? Apparently Annable has made his name on TV, in shows such as the medical drama Red Band Society and the Melissa George led medical drama Heartbeat (no, not the UK show of the same name set in Yorkshire).

Annable plays Gabriel, the tech genius behind ‘The Temple’, an off-grid secret facility that is used to house, and interrogate, prisoners. Why? Well the building also houses a powerful artificial intelligence that can read people – literally. It measures every aspect of the human dynamic: from traditional reading techniques like perspiration and eye movement, to the electrical impulses firing inside the brain! Of course we ALL know what happens when you have AI that powerful. Sentience….  For further reference see the Terminator franchise; HAL in 2001; Westworld; Tron; et al. All of which are a damn sight better than Armed Respsonse, that’s for sure.

So, the premise of the film is this: a group of soldiers are seemingly killed inside ‘The Temple’ by unknown forces. Wesley Snipes’ Isaac puts together a team to enter The Temple – including the tech guy/Temple designer, Gabriel (Annable) – to find out what happened. Then all hell breaks loose as the building’s AI taunts each and every team member, judging them for their actions in life. Sound familiar? It should, apart from the AI aspect of the story (which is used in place of the more traditional ghost or haunting) Armed Response plays out like a myriad of other, better,  “Army vs. the Supernatural” movies you’ve already seen: The Keep, Below, Deathwatch, etc.

Armed Response sees director John Stockwell returning to the WWE fold, having previously helmed the Dolph Ziggler starring Countdown; which, despite focusing more heavily on the WWE and its wrestlers at times, was a great Die Hard-esque action flick. It’s actually hard to believe Stockwell did direct both films – Countdown was a LOT of fun, in a dumb action-movie way; whereas this film is a turgid, slow-paced mess of a movie that mixes and and horror badly. Very badly. Maybe it’s the script? Countdown was penned by two guys who have worked in the action genre for years; whereas Armed Response is only the second script from screenwriter Matt Savelloni, his first not even produced as of yet (it’s listed as in “turnaround” on IMDB).

Whatever the reason, Armed Response falls flat at every turn, wasting the talents of the headline actors; but hey, at it at least makes Wesley Snipes look good once again! Unlike his other recent “comeback” film Final Recall

Armed Response is out on DVD on now from Signature Entertainment.

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