Final Score is the kind of movie you see on the IMDb list of credits for an actor you like and wonder how you missed it and then, oh, yeah, that’s how. The direct-to-VOD action market has grown remarkably in recent years, attracting one or two big names to its fairly run-of-the-mill, mid- to low-budget offerings. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich or Antonio Banderas (himself the co-star of 4 [!] during 2017 alone) are frequent faces. Lesser-known but still popular genre actors like Ray Stevenson, too. As always, the crowd of performers from WWE like John Cena or, in the case of Final Score, Dave Bautista are also regulars here.
It’s a viable sub-genre that has filled the void in a cinematic landscape where the money just isn’t there for straightforward action films – or the men who still make a pretty penny starring in them.
This is not to say Final Score is any good; it’s about on the level with most low-budget movies — a few good actors, a few decent fights and a dumb plot that keeps you entertained but never really engaged. Known best as Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Bautista has built a viable career as an actor in the post-WWE world that feels different from his counterparts — namely Dwayne Johnson — because unlike his blockbuster-others, Bautista can convey softness and emotion.
That’s what sets him apart in Final Score, too. You dig the work he does with “Uncle Mike,” a veteran whose squad — GET THIS, EVERYBODY! — was all killed in combat. Mike feels it’s his duty to help raise his fallen best friend’s daughter, Danni. The plot is basically Die Hard in a football stadium as Mike takes Danni to a game, where she runs off to meet a boy right as Sokovian terrorist Arkady (Stevenson) takes over the stadium in hope of finding his former-revolutionary brother, Dimitri (Pierce Brosnan), to foster further strife in their home country.
You see, Dimitri left the revolution business through a deal with the British government that led to him getting a complete facial reconstruction. And yet despite being in WitSec, Dimitri still needed to attend a football game that left him open to kidnap.
Bautista is a joy and the action sequences as directed by Scott Mann (a VOD virtuoso) have some heft, particularly one involving a kitchen and fryer grease. None of the violence ever feels impactful, despite being gory, but it’s fun in the moment. Unfortunately, the really great ones are few and far between, and as the movie falls into plot mode it slows to something of a crawl.
Honestly, seeing Brosnan in a movie on this level is both fun and a little frustrating; it’s a role that requires his character to tell a story about growing up concerning a chicken he loved that died and taught him to “sacrifice things in the name of victory.” That story is convoluted and largely irrelevant, but he clearly had fun reciting it.
It’s VOD, though. Hard to really judge a VOD film for feeling low-rent, flabby, too long. It’s a product of its medium and it aims to be a $3 Redbox impulse rental because Brosnan and Bautista are headlining it. Final Score certainly gives you them, with some sequences of action that sizzle … pun intended.