Saturday, March 9, 2013

In short: Command Performance (2009)

Seeing how much I enjoyed the Dolph Lundgren-directed The Mechanik, I was hoping to have as much fun with his Command Performance. The plot at least promises pleasant silliness: Dolph is an American rock drummer named Joe drumming for a (horrible, though the film doesn't seem to realize) Russian rock band. Joe and the guys are taking part in a big arena charity concert organized by the Russian President (Hristo Shopov) who may or may not misuse his position to give his two teenage daughters a good look at their favourite horrible pop star, Venus (Melissa Molinaro). There's also some nonsense about Venus leering at "cute" Dolph (a further inferred attribute of the big lug is "he's a very good drummer") whose band will be the new warm-up act in her coming tour, because you always open concerts of a manufactured pop star with bad "modern rock" bands. Anyhow, Dolph is totally hot.

Fortunately, the audience is saved from our hero's possible cradle robbing by the brutal attack of a band of terrorists led by Oleg Kazov (Dave Legeno). Oleg and his men massacre large part of the concert audience and take the President, his daughters, Venus and various other people hostage, supposedly to get a high ransom. What neither the soon arriving Russian authorities nor Kazov's men know is that he has rather more personal reasons to catch himself a president, and really no intention at all to let the man or his daughters live; don't ask me why he doesn't just kill them on sight, though.

But don't worry, Dolph is not only a drummer, he is also a former violent biker and suddenly it's Die Hard in a Rock Arena™.

Now, obviously Command Performance's set-up is plenty stupid enough to result in a highly entertaining movie. It's full of embarrassing little moments where other people tell us how awesome our writer/director/lead character is, frighteningly bad acting by Molinaro, and indifferent acting by everyone else; it even has a scene where Dolph stabs a bad guy to death with a guitar, after having stunned him first with a bit of shredding (he's a drummer, not a guitar player, obviously). The film's problem is that for most of its running time, it's standing directly between the consciously campy (a position that would have its own pitfalls, of course, see The Expendables) and a more serious action movie, yet isn't very good at being either.

For the camp variation, there's just too little nonsense like Dolph escaping a massacre because he's on the toilet smoking pot or stabbing guys with a guitar, while the more serious action movie suffers from the mediocrity of said action. The action isn't bad, but it's lacking a certain wow factor, or just the kind of tight pacing that could make the thousandth movie about Lundgren shooting and stabbing people in a set that may or may not be a warehouse exciting. The action, and the whole of Command Performance is just okay, yet okay never really is quite what I look for in a film.

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