17th Apr2020

‘Acceleration’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Natalie Burn, Sean Patrick Flanery, Chuck Liddell, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Danny Trejo, Al Sapienza, Olya Banar, Riccardo Berdini, Ryan Carnes, Neb Chupin, Joe Corzo | Written by Michael Merino | Directed by Michael Merino, Daniel Zirilli

acceleration-dvd-cover

I’ve been a big fan of actress Natalie Burn since her role in 2016’s Left to Die (aka Awaken). That film, which she also co-wrote, saw her take the lead role in a Most Dangerous Game-esque movie but be sidelined by the marketing materials who focused on the appearance of Vinnie Jones in the cast. And Acceleration does something very similar.

To the uninitiated Acceleration looks like yet another DTV star-vehicle for Dolph Lundgren; hell, even the cast listing atop the DVD cover puts Sean Patrick Flanery, Lundgren and Chuck Liddell ahead of Burns. But this IS Burns’ film, she and her character are the driving force behind the action. It probably shouldn’t surprise you to learn – given that Burn co-wrote Left to Die – that she has a hand in this film too as a producer AND casting director. Hell, Burn even performs her own stunts her as she did in Left to Die and Downhill. This is an actress whose making her own path through films and – so far – each and every film she’s had her hand in has ended up exceeding expectations.

Acceleration included.

The film sees Dolph Lundgren “star” as Vladik Zorich, a crime lord whose tentacles permeate the underbelly of a seedy Los Angeles – dealing in guns, gambling, drugs and skin trafficking. Yet one day Zorich finds himself double-crossed by his most trusted operative Rhona Zyocki (played by Natalie Burn). Vladik’s propensity for power, control, and violence drives him to kidnap Rhona’s young son, forcing her to participate in a planned elimination of Vladik’s enemies and identities. However, Vladik underestimates the power of a mother’s love, and finds himself losing control as his devious plan slowly unravels…

Spending most of his time in front of a computer staring at his various monitors, or on his phone, Lundgren’s starring role in Acceleration is very much an extended cameo instead – though like his cameo role in Female Fight Squad he does get to cut loose towards the end of the film. The main role – besides Burn’s protagonist of course – goes to former Young Indiana Jones, Sean Patrick Flanery, who makes a four-course meal of every one of his lines, stealing scenes left and right and making the most of his role. However this truly IS Natalie Burn’s film and she is fantastic in the role of Rhona. Part spy, part bass-ass hit woman and – essentially – a desperate mother, Rhona is posited as the female equivalent of John Wick and Burn pulls that off tremendously: she’s vulnerable when she needs to be, stoic and violent when she has to be and she does it all with aplomb.

Acceleration also has a very distinctive look. Many will say “Oh it reminds me of Drive” or the neon-soaked appearance of Nicolas Winding Refn’s other films, Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon but, to me, the film feels very much like a companion piece to Julien Seri’s 2015 masterpiece Night Fare (a film that is criminally underrated and has never seen light of day in the UK since its debut at Frightfest in 2015). Both films have a very similar aesthetic – the dark of the streets, the poorly lit city at night, cold yet somehow bathed in warmth thanks to the use of neon. Plus both films deal with someone travelling around in the shadows killing folks; even if the motives of the characters are completely different!

Fantastically shot by co-directors Michael Merino and Daniel Zirilli, the latter of whom films Circle of Pain and Locked Down are still, to this day, watched on heavy rotation in my house, Acceleration stands head and shoulders above typical Lundgren-starring DTV fare (and a lot of other DTV fare for that matter); making this one an easy recommendation.

Acceleration is out now on DVD and Digital from Dazzler Media.

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