There came a moment in recent years where remakes, reboots and continuations became the new normal. I never really had a problem with this however as some proved their worth and without remakes you wouldn’t have Maniac, an adaptation of a Norwegian show. The reason its easy to accept this trend is that these films and shows don’t hide the fact they are paying homage to something else. I mean despite the backlash it is receiving, the new Charmed reboot isn’t hiding from the show that came before. Final Score on the other hand doesn’t even attempt to pay respect to Die Hard despite the fact every single aspect of the films thin uninspired story is stolen from it. You might think I’m being hyperbolic but when I say every single aspect, I mean EVERY SINGLE ASPECT.
Final Score tells the story of Michael Knox (Dave Bautista), a soldier visiting his old army buddies family during his vacation. He agrees to take his surrogate niece Danni (Lara Peake) to the final West Ham game at Upton Park before its closure. However when Russian terrorists lock down the stadium and threaten to blow it up while the game is on it is up to Michael to stop them, whatever the costs….or you know, the usual high stakes drivel that people shill out for.
It might sound like I’m bitter. I’m not, in fact watching a bad film can often be more enjoyable than a good one. I mean people watch Adam Sandler films for a reason right? The film does come with a certain disappointment factor however. Not only because it fails to have an original thought due to an overreliance on formula but because when it does step away from Die Hard to take on a more serious nature it drastically underplays it.
Now we don’t expect Bautista to blow our socks off, he still hasn’t stepped away from his wrestler persona in the same way as Dwayne Johnson but he is more capable than director Scott Mann gives him credit. In the early moments of the film the idea of guilt and PTSD are evoked alluding to a deeper theme than just blind heroism but as soon as Mike and Danni arrive at the park, this meagre development is forgotten despite Bautista’s tortured looks and attempts to deepen a very shallow affair.
It’s not all disappointments however as the film is strangely humorous despite the fact it takes itself far too seriously. This injection of comedy, some intentionally, some not, breathes a certain life into Mike’s killing odyssey but even this causes more problems than it fixes. In seeking out laughs Mann creates a tone problem that the film never really recovers. While funny enough to be considered camp fun, Mann doesn’t want to make that film. The fight scenes are gritty, the subject matter is dark and the rating alone screams ‘serious action film’ but the film Mann wanted to make just doesn’t exist. I mean I probably still wouldn’t have liked that film but this might just be worse.
The main issue is Mike and Danni though, not how they interact or talk, although the script fails to really connect the two beyond platitudes, but because we don’t really know what either of them are about. It only works having a blank slate if you can add your own ideas of a person to it but with Mike you learn next to nothing beyond his CV. Soldier man kills people because good guy used to work when films couldn’t show as much but now we expect, nay deserve better. Danni is even worse, all teenage angst wrapped up with a nice tidy bow of grief, a stereotype so overused that it drives people crazy without any of them realising why.
For a film so wrapped up in the idea of sacrifice Mann doesn’t make concessions to improve his film. He steps away from Die Hard to add flavour to things but doesn’t quite get the central concept and while Mike supposedly changes and chooses family over orders, he doesn’t. He still makes the sacrificial play when the film demands, removing any element of character development sloppily built up over the pictures runtime.
Ultimately Final Score lacks the artistic direction required to make this Die Hard light film fly as it lacks the tension and desire necessary to really keep you hooked and while Bautista does his best to make do its clear that all involved failed to grasp what they really wanted to say and if that’s the case you find yourself asking the question, why make it in the first place? Oh and Pierce Brosnan appears for about 10 minutes despite serving zero purpose besides building up a pointless metaphor, that pretty much puts the final nail in the coffin.