J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Acceleration: Let’s Speed Through this as Quickly as We Can


You have to have some degree of optimism when a film starts with Dolph Lundgren declaring: “let’s do this.” Unfortunately, it is all downhill from there. Still, even though it has been almost thirty-five years since his Hollywood debut in A View to a Kill, Lundgren is the most credible action-figure in Michael Merino & Daniel Zirilli’s Acceleration, which releases today on DVD.

Lundgren is not playing the most likeable of characters this time around. That would be the broad-shouldered Vladik, who has kidnapped Rhona’s son Mika to force her to run five deadly errands for him, all before the financial markets open the next morning. She has five sealed envelopes containing debts to collect and lowlife criminal rivals to whack. You think she’d open them all at once so she can figure out the most fuel-efficient route and maybe enter them all in her project management software, but apparently no.

The bad news is Vladik isn’t even the worst villain out there. The honors probably go to the scummy kingpin Kane, who intends to call in Vladik’s IOU’s in the morning. We can tell because there are a number of scenes in which he beats up various thugs for no discernable reason and also waxes poetic over diner pie.

We respect Lundgren as an action movie survivor and an anti-human-trafficking activist, so we try to give his films the benefit of the doubt. For instance, you can legitimately argue The Tracker has a distinctive Euro-Poliziotteschi vibe going on, but Acceleration is a pretty weak brew. Even Danny Trejo looks bored in his brief but unremarkable scene.

Clearly, Natalia Burns is a poor substitution for a rampaging Lundgren. She is not anything like the second coming of Michelle Yeoh or Cynthia Rothrock, but most of her foes are middle-aged white dudes, so whatever. Perhaps you have to give some credit to Sean Patrick Flannery for making a lot of noise and chewing a great deal of scenery as Kane, but all his over-the-top dialogue sounds-like bargain-basement imitation Tarantino verbiage.

So, what a shock, Acceleration is pretty lame. We can’t blame Lundgren, who still radiates coolness, even here. Merino and Zirilli (who helmed the just as forgettable Asian Connection) are the obvious prime candidates. Not recommended, Acceleration is now available on DVD.

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