17th Nov2020

‘Dead Reckoning’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: K.J. Apa, Scott Adkins, James Remar, India Eisley, Ellie Cornell, Sydney Park, Devon Diep, Leah Procito, Patrick M. Walsh, James Michael Cummings | Written by Kristin Alexandre, A. Wayne Carter | Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak

Sometimes, well more than sometimes if I’m honest, I’ll sit down to watch a film purely on the names in the cast and crew – as this film, Dead Reckoning, would attest.

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, who helmed the superb action trifecta of Romeo Must Die, Cradle to the Grave and Exit Wounds in the early 2000s; and with a cast featuring Scott Adkins and James Remar, and to a lesser extent K.J. Apa – who plays Archie on TV”s Riverdale (a show I gave up watching after the death of Luke Perry); Dead Reckoning looks – on paper – like its right up my action-movie loving street…

Based, loosely, VERY loosely, on the Boston marathon bombings of 2013 (probably one of the reasons this film has been in development since 2016, with the writers struggling to get it not only made but released), Dead Reckoning is set, for the most part, on Nantucket Island – also the setting for one of the greatest teen movies ever made, One Crazy Summer. I mention that as, despite seeming like an action movie, at the heart of this film is a teen drama: the relationship between Apa’s Niko and India Eisley’s Tillie; and how their burgeoning relationship helps Tillie get over her parents death.

The action stems from the fact Tillie’s parents died in a plane crash – including her FBI Chief father – and Niko’s brother Marco, played by Adkins, is apparently a terrorist whose own father was killed by James Remar (in the films opener) and who comes to Nantucket as part of his latest terrorist plot… Oh and did I forget to mention James Remar’s FBI agent Cantrell is also Tillie’s godfather! Talk about a tragic Romeo and Juliet story.

Because that’s what Dead Reckoning is. Romeo and Juliet wrapped up in terrorist action-drama clothing.

It’s certainly nothing like director Andrzej Bartkowiak’s other action-movie oeuvre; in fact I’d be hard-pressed to see why Bartkowiak was hired for this job at all. Even with his “worst” action movie, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, he still showed some of the visual flair he made his name with as a cinematographer on films like Falling Down and Speed. Here his direction is flat and lifeless; and the editing does nothing to help either, feeling just as stilted as the visuals.

An overwrought, angsty teenage drama, with a terrorist subplot, this is the kind of movie that will appeal to the hardcore fans of Riverdale and its stars K.J. Apa; but don’t be fooled action movie fans this, despite the involvement of Adkins and Bartkowiak, is probably not for you… And the less said about that Terminator-style, Sarah Connor-esque ending the better!

Dead Reckoning is out now on DVD and Digital, in the US.

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