Never Back Down
- Film Worth:$7.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
It's hard to beat an underdog story, right? Rocky, The Karate Kid, Bloodsport, The Best...
It's hard to beat an underdog story, right? Rocky, The Karate Kid, Bloodsport, The Best Of The Best, Friday Night Lights- the list of pumped up, inspirational 'classics' goes on and on. Obviously a suit in a Hollywood studio boardroom got the idea to roll them all up into one big ball, give it a new-millennium-youtube-mobile-phone-crap-soundtrack sheen, and then sell it to the kids. The results are as cliched and obvious as you would expect, but the atrociously titled Never Back Down (Never Back Down? Really? That's the best you could come up with?) is inoffensive and enjoyably earnest enough to just make it past the line.
When angry young man Jake Tyler (Tom Cruise-alike Sean Faris, who exhibits a startling lack of on-screen dynamism) shifts from Iowa to Orlando, he's hit by the differences: the girls all walk around in bikinis, everything's awesome, and the high school students all look like they're in their late twenties. And, oh yeah, everyone (even the ladies) are hyped up about mixed martial arts, with illicit organised fights popping up all over the shop. When number one fighter Ryan McCarthy (played by Cam Gigandet, a totally crap combo of Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen and Ryan Phillippe- talk about a Frankenstein's monster!) takes an instant dislike to him, Jake has to muscle up. After an initial 'beat down', he seeks the help of Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou, who should REALLY know better), a fight instructor with a suitably dark past. And, of course, there's also a girl, in the comely shape of Baja (the atrocious Amber Heard, who would be perfect for Michael Bay's next film or the upcoming Fast & The Furious sequel), who softens Jake's hardened, guilt-ridden heart.
Yes, this is strictly by-the-numbers stuff (and at 110 minutes, it's way too long), but there's actually something guiltily comfortable in Never Back Down's familiarity. The fact that everyone takes it so seriously adds to the fun even more. Jeff Wadlow (Cry_Wolf) over-directs like his life depends on it, with the music blaring and the camera jerking around spastically, while the performances are pitched at just the right OC come Gilmore Girls level. Never Back Down is lame, obvious and predictably entertaining in a brain-dead kind of way- while that's not much to aspire to, it's not exactly a hanging crime either, is it?