“Everyone is the enemy tonight.”
Opening with a fast-paced fight featuring money, guns and Dolph Lundgren, sh*t’s going down. However, eight hours earlier… Rhona (Natalie Burn) is speeding throughout the night, attempting objective after objective in order to have her son returned. On one occasion a debt collector, and assassin on another Rhona is as tough as it comes, but will do anything for her son’s safe return. Dolph, mostly behind a collection of monitors – somewhat voyeuristic – is Vladik, the one sending Rhona the objectives.
Whilst Rhona is in one of Vladik’s hands, Kane (Sean Patrick Flanery) is pinching the other. Accompanied by brick sh*thouse, Hannibal (Chuck Liddell), Kane is your typically manic bad guy, purely excessive and idiotic, but also a sadistic man. But the problem is the character’s existence. Because of a lack of clarity, the actions of Kane and his squad – including a horrifically intense Russian Roulette knock-off – all seem quite irrelevant to the Rhona’s ass-kicking-driven Acceleration.
As Acceleration exists within fight-based action cinema, three aspects are key: the fighters; the capture of the fights; and the environments of said fights. In Acceleration, somewhat ironically, the fight scenes are not accelerated, but if anything, slow-paced to increase legitimacy. The lack of editing does come as a surprise, but the authenticity is much welcomed. With all fights occurring at night, and majority in rooms, there is a grittiness to the fights, somewhat similar to the early work of Seagal, specifically Out for Justice. Rhona doesn’t wave a police badge, claiming it to be a “trophy” though. Additionally, and quite significantly, neon lighting is everywhere – straight out of John Wick: Chapter 2’s book. The neon certainly brightens the experience…
As far as badasses go in Acceleration, Natalie Burn’s Rhona is full-on legit – almost reminiscent of action heroine Cynthia Rothrock, but not as fast-paced. From John-Woo-esque double-gunning to being a protective mother, the presentation of Rhona is a terrifically balanced mix of genre and gender expectation and convention. A wonderful role model in action cinema and deserving of more exposure.
Dolph on other other hand, whilst slick and charming, does appear slightly slow and old in the little fight scenes in which he appears. Here’s remembering he’s sixty two. His character, Vladik, however, immediately becomes difficult to side with when the viewer is supposed to, having had a child abducted. A forgettable role for the big Swede, but luckily, he isn’t the star of the show.
Ultimately, as a female-driven action film, Acceleration is decent, though as a general action film, there is a feel of a lack of completion in some areas, especially in sub-plot. The whole disconnection between Kane’s on-goings and the on-goings of Rhona & Vladik is somewhat tragic, and the establishment of clarity between the two comes too late on. As for the rest of the film, the direction of both Michael Merino and Daniel Zirilli is undeniably decent and establishes an interest in their other action projects.
Written by Dominic Hastings
STAR RATING – ★★★
Question: What is your favourite Dolph Lundgren film?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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Thanks to Strike Media for Screening Access
Acceleration will be available on Digital Download from 6th April