SYNOPSIS: The age-old battle of good versus evil plays out in the town of Hop, Washington when mysterious stranger Ryan Varrett (Steve Austin) blows in with nothing on his mind but vengeance. Shortly after his arrival, the town suddenly erupts in a fury of action that entangles a ruthless crime lord named Drayke (Danny Trejo), a murderous biker gang, corrupt local police, and at the center of it all, Varrett himself, who is dead-set on exacting justice according to his own code. The tension steadily mounts to an explosive climax as Varrett and Drayke face off in a fight to the death. Guns blaze, knives glimmer and fists fly in this tale of good, evil and vengeance.
Unlike Dwayne Johnson, Steve Austin has not enjoyed the same kind of success in Hollywood in his post-wrestling days as an actor. That probably has to do with both his looks as well as his demeanour- admittedly, a sour dour ‘Stone Cold’ countenance just doesn’t resonate the same way in a WWE match vis-à-vis a Hollywood movie. ‘Recoil’ therefore continues his streak of direct-to-video B-movie action movies, and going by the looks of it, that’s probably as far as his career as a leading man will go.
The premise is all-too familiar- a mysterious lone drifter walks into a tightly-knit town looking for vengeance, upsets the balance of the local community, and finally teaches one and all why his brand of justice works. It’s no different from the Westerns of old, except that this time instead of people on horses, you get gangs on motorbikes, led by the permanently scowl-faced Drayke (Danny Trejo). A wanted criminal by the ATF (or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), Drayke demands absolute loyalty not just from his men, but also from the local townsfolk.
Walking into this snakepit is Ryan Varrett (Austin), a man whom we know has a vendetta and isn’t afraid to be judge, jury and executioner. Why he has become hardened is only revealed in the last third of the film, but in any case since he’s played by Austin, we know he’s supposed to be our hero despite his less than passive methods. Ryan’s really looking for Drayke’s brother Rex (Noah Gugliemi), a serial rapist he’s looking to punish- though you know how the formula goes when it comes to family.
Only the last 20 mins do Varett and Drayke finally meet, so the rest of the time is spent delineating the supporting characters- like the token female character Varett strikes up an affinity with or the crooked sheriff in the town who simply closes an eye to Drayke’s criminal activity. As if afraid of having too many scenarios and characters to juggle at the same time, writer John Sullivan keeps the story simple and if you ask us a little too straightforward. There are no surprises along the way and little shades of ambiguity as well, so every character is defined in the same black- and- white mould.
Sullivan’s simplicity is matched in director Terry Miles’ direction, unremarkable at best and lazy at worst. Miles knows that his audience is there to see Austin fight, and he rightfully gets out of the way once the action begins- of course, not many people can stand in the way of someone with Austin’s physical build. Much of the action is designed around his physique, the highlight of the entire movie the mano-a-mano climactic fight between Varett and Drayke. It’s brutal and unrelenting- Trejo the only one in the entire film looking even close to challenging Austin- but the rest of the fight sequences struggle to make much of an impression.
The same can be said of the entire movie, from the storytelling to the direction to most importantly the action. It is for the latter that ‘Recoil’ even exists, but even by that yardstick, neither Miles nor for that matter Austin find a compelling enough reason for you not to recoil from its blandness. It’s a B-movie all right, but one that is perfectly content at embracing its pedigree, rather than attempting to break out of genre expectations by offering something more. And as we said earlier, with movies like ‘Recoil’, it’s no wonder why Austin will probably remain in DTV land for some time.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is a surprising treat, offering strong bass and good surround effects for the action scenes. Visuals are clear and sharp.
DVD RATING :
Review by Gabriel Chong
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