Action films can often fall victim to suffering skeletal plots strung together simply to drape action sequences on top of. Good story telling can run the risk of falling by the wayside in favor of the next explosion or fight or car chase. And, if we’re being perfectly honest… as long as the action really works, we’re often willing to accept the lack of story.
Eliminators boasts a barebones story, but uses this to its advantage, sustaining an incredible pace and focus that elevates its sparse story and boils it down to a thrilling and lean cat and mouse chase. The trouble with many cat and mouse chases is that both cat and mouse have to be interesting and compelling in their own right to make the pursuit enjoyable. Going toe to toe with Adkins this time out is the relentless killer for hire Bishop, played by the WWE’s Wade Barrett.
Director James Nunn, whose previous collaboration with Scott Adkins (Green Street Hooligans 3) was a success, and whose Tower Block was a clever and violent sniper thriller, seems to have known all about the handicaps facing a good cat and mouse action film and risen to the challenge. As much as I’m an avid Scott Adkins fan, I’m under no delusion that all of his films end up as quality entertainment. Reviewing his films can be hit or miss. But the man is on a roll here in 2016, and his smart collaboration with quality directors like Nunn does nothing but improve his batting average.
Eliminators tells the story of Thomas, a former undercover agent living in witness relocation after a tragic confrontation with his mark took the life of his wife. Living as a single father under the radar, a very “History Of Violence”-like event takes place that outs Thomas to men from his past who want him dead. Braveheart’s James Cosmo plays Cooper, the grandfather to Adkins’ daughter, and former mark who wants Thomas dead and wants his granddaughter for himself. He sends Barrett’s Bishop after our hero… and they’ll pretty much duke it out relentlessly for a solid hour in the center of the film. It’s torn right out of the Terminator mold, with Barrett proving a remarkable foil to Adkins. Having never kept up with the WWE, I was not at all familiar with Barrett. He’s an imposing figure and proves he’s got the chops to square off with Adkins in both the acting and fighting departments.
Never boring for a minute, Eliminators keeps the constant pursuit interesting through various foot chases, car chases… hell, even a ferris wheel chase… and of course, two major throw downs between our leads. Fight coordinator Tim Man was on board this film and brought the same skills he used to elevate the fights in Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear to modern classic levels. These are street brawls and they’re wonderful set pieces to sell a movie like this on.
Eliminators delivers on what it promises. The story has been done before, but the stripped down simplicity of it is quite refreshing, leaving more room for action and letting the central characters’ skill and menace do the heavy lifting. Nunn delivers a film that far exceeds his last Adkins collaboration, and makes a strong case for Wade Barrett: action hero. Along with Hard Target 2, Undisputed IV, and Doctor Strange, Eliminators cements 2016 as the very best year of Scott Adkins’ hard fought career thus far. Here’s to more collaborations between these two.
Being that Eliminators is a WWE / Universal Home Video co-production, the only bonus features on this disc are focused on Wade Barrett. They’re harmless fluff pieces, but enjoyable since Barrett really impressed me in this film and I’d be happy to see more of him in action movies to come. These aren’t films loaded with daring cinematography or divergent scores… they’re a product for a certain kind of ravenous audience of which I’m a proud member. Most likely shot in under two months time, the artistry of Eliminators and other films like it IS the action. This disc puts that action in front of your eye balls and doesn’t muck about with much more than it has to. It’s well worth a look for actionites and Adkins loyalists.
And I’m Out.