Review: ELIMINATORS (2016) Kicks Ass With Directorial Forte

In the years since I've had my eye on action star Scott Adkins, he's almost never disappointed me as a fan or a critic. That wasn't until Isaac Florentine's The Shepherd in 2008, and with an unceremonious fight finale that paled in comparison to the riproaring sequences of his previous work, including Special Forces in 2003.

Fast forward to 2016 and to say the least, I've become a little more objective in my fandom for the sake of critiquing movies on a larger scale than merely weighing in on how awesome fight scenes are. Gladly, using this perspective met well for me having seen director James Nunn's 2014 action drama, Green Street 3: Underground, by far one of the few best films I had seen starring Adkins, while a slightly more modest appeal now follows in their latest pairing in part from WWE Films, Eliminators.

The story sets up immediately with Thomas and his young daughter living out their quiet life in London, until their lives are instantly changed when three armed men raid his home. Waking up in a hospital with his name and identity back on the grid and his daughter missing and no answers coming to his direction, Thomas's past as a U.S. Federal Agent comes back to haunt him, forcing him into a race against time to find his daughter and save their lives from a hired hitman, and his employer.

The plot itself is a terrific serving of all the necessary ingredients for an action movie, even as few facts are made known at least right away. The level of peril and danger certainly keeps you compelled as Adkins goes to work, even though his role as a former U.S.-anything still offers us an actor whose American-accent still doesn't hide the fact that he's as British as the people in the background - Maybe that's just me, I can't shake it. It served him wonderfully in John Hyams's Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning, so, I'll say that much.

Actress Ty Glaser's screentime gives amply to the role of Stacey, the social services worker in care of Thomas's daughter, Carly, played by Lily Ann Harland-Stubbs. Supporting credit further goes to the role of Ray, played by Daniel Caltagirone, while it's seasoned thesp, James Cosmo (Troy, We Still Kill The Old Way) truly stimulates the antogonist end of things in the role of a crimeboss named Cooper. His heavy, bearded and gruff appearance notwithstanding, he menaces in the role with a script that, while lacking in certain areas regarding the preface of our action-packed tale, helps serve a mighty, menacing villain.

Probably one of the best things about this film is that it keeps on moving from the start of its second act and onward. From top to bottom, the movie goes from contained home invasion thriller to road raging action spectacle, using some sizeable locales and set pieces, a few of which were delightfully surprising. Tim Man takes up the mantle as fight choreographer following Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear three years earlier, designating the flight of fists and bullets accordingly with Adkins, in top, physical screenfighting form as always, firing on all cylinders.

One other major credit here for Nunn is the implementation of sizeable baddies, not holding back with the casting of actor and pro-wrestler Wade Barrett in the role of Bishop, Cooper's primary hitman of choice. Though Barrett starred in Dead Man Down with Colin Farrell, Eliminators was my intro to Barrett as an actor, and true to form, he delivers his role exceptionally. Given the right role and the perfect script, Barrett's capabilities on film will surely shine in his own film someday while it is here, both dramatically and physically, he has superceded my expectations.

At the core here, worth noting in any instance, is Adkins himself, who just recently broke the mold in Marvel's Doctor Strange, whilst a small role but one that granted him some prominent screentime under actor Mads Mikkelsen who plays the main supervillain. Adkins is great at what he does, while even better in Green Street 3, Special Forces, and the serial Undisputed follow-ups as Russian MMA anti-hero, Boyka. It's roles like those that make him stand out in certain films, production scale notwithstanding, while his acting leaves just a little bit more to be desired in portraying Americans in almost every movie he's in as of late. This is not going to work everytime as not every role he plays as an American will be as memorable as Day Of Reckoning, rather, they will be as forgettable as the one he played in Hard Target 2.

That said, it really is to Adkins's credit that he's become as good as he is as an actor, so far, but the brunt of my disapproval goes to the very people who insist he keeps on playing Americans. That is not necessarily to suggest that he shouldn't, while my critique here deals more in a films that hinder his growth, further typecasting him as much more generic an actor than deserved. 

On the other hand, it's films like Special Forces and Green Street 3 that draw me in just a bit more to Adkins as an actor from a more genuine exhibit. However, much to our chagrin and despite the decent performances from the cast, including Adkins on top of his exponential talents in martial arts cinema, we don't get this, and thankfully, it is Nunn's acumen for stitching thrilling, evenly-paced, almost flawless stories together on which this film sturdily foundates. Otherwise, this film would have been as close a call as the misfire that was Close Range.

All things considered, Eliminators is an imperfect, albeit promising buy or rental. Given the talent on hand and the final product, the film is a major cut above a lot of what those of us have seen in recent memory, and apart from next year's offerings of Boyka: Undisputed and Savage Dog and the forthcoming Accident Man, one can hope that Adkins's career trajectory will only continue onward and upward, lest it be mired merely in more generic fight scene fun for the fanboys.

Buy your copy at today!


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