Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"When you're stuck at home and you're tired of more cerebral cinema, you may well find yourself longing for a bit of cheap and cheerful action. You won't get much cheaper than this."

When one of your main characters is a crime lord called Vladik Zorich (played by Dolph Lundgren, no less), you should know what to expect. Acceleration delivers exactly that.

Ballet dancer turned kickboxer Natalie Burn plays Rhona, all battered leather, cheap nylon underwear and wiry muscle. She's a cold blooded killer with a dark past but this time she's not in it for herself. The aforementioned Vladik has kidnapped her little boy (Dobromir Mashukov) and is holding him hostage; she may never see him again unless she completes a series of tasks, killing or stealing from Vladik's enemies one by one.

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Said enemies are played by some of the (literal) heavyweights of the B-movie action world, from Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson to Danny Trejo, but don't get too excited - most of them don't actually do any fighting. It's a curious role reversal whereby they sit on the sidelines essentially acting as decoration to please the fans whilst a much younger woman provides most of the action. She's good, though you wouldn't really know it from the choppy way this is shot and edited. All those clumsy cuts could cover a multitude of sins and you'll have to watch closely to recognise that she's actually delivering some impressively fluid set piece moves.

Helping her to bring down the average age of the cast is former small screen Indiana Jones, Sean Patrick Flanery, who has fallen a long way from the dizzy heights of films like Mongolian Death Worm to find himself engaging in sordid punch-ups in alleyways and extolling the virtues of lemon meringue pie. He does, however, help to deliver the film's one technically proficient scene, an interrogation that makes use of Russian roulette, before contributing to a finale that unfortunately sidelines a heroine who deserved better.

This is, on account of its line-up, a film which has been compared to The Expendables. It's quite unfair. Acceleration is much, much lower in quality and is considerably more watchable. The unimaginative sets, bizarre lighting choices and laden dialogue don't really matter because it's a really easy watch, completely undemanding and ready to deliver just the right kind of low rent thrills just when they're needed. Yes, it's extremely predictable (you'll guess the twist about Vladek almost immediately and much of it plays out like a computer game). Yes, it has a plot that makes no rational sense at all. Yet there's a sincerity about it, a kind of innocence, that's rather endearing, and it never pretends to be anything more than it is.

When you're stuck at home and you're tired of more cerebral cinema, you may well find yourself longing for a bit of cheap and cheerful action. You won't get much cheaper than this. Acceleration is guaranteed not to require any thought. You can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Reviewed on: 01 Apr 2020
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Acceleration packshot
A gangster holds a child hostage to force the child's mother to run dangerous errands, killing or stealing from his rivals.
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Director: Michael Merino, Daniel Zirilli

Writer: Michael Merino

Starring: Natalie Burn, Sean Patrick Flanery, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, Danny Trejo, Al Sapienza

Year: 2019

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: US


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