Review-Lite: The 2nd (2020)

Ryan Phillippe in The 2nd

Securing a not so coveted spot on my worst films of 2020 list, this Ryan Phillippe action film borrows its framework from much better action features while trying to embrace the tone and feel of a true B movie thrill ride. Following career soldier Vic Davis (Phillippe) who finds himself in the middle of a kidnapping attempt when he goes to pick his son up from college. Stuck in the campus dorms with his son and a supreme court justice’s daughter he must face off against a group of painful stereotypes. Director Brian Skiba’s tone deaf discussion of the 2nd amendment, one that is crucial to a plot so heavily building up to saying something while never having the brains to vocalise it, while uncomfortable and damaging in its ‘guns good, bad men that use guns bad’ rhetoric, is the least of The 2nd’s problems. Phillipe has been making right leaning action since he starred for three seasons on USA’s adaptation of Shooter and The 2nd is him playing the same character, one who here seems less interested in fighting for his life, more bored gamer playing on easy for the ‘story’.

What scuppers Skiba’s barely afloat, Die Hard in an abandoned campus feature as soon as the action kicks off is the draining villains that range from classic angry woman to psychotic russian. While Skiba attempts to inject some B movie mojo into proceedings with Casper Van Dien’s Driver, a cane wielding prim and proper madman, he is surrounded by antiquated ideas of 90s villains designed to be easily hateable to an audience that no longer exists. The 2nd is a film that wants to use the politics of today and craft a piece of popcorn nonsense around it but the politics here belong to someone who hasn’t watched the news since the 90s-00s. Ultimately I didn’t want to chow down on the popcorn goodness here but it definitely was nonsense.


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