I had to stifle laughter when I put the disc for “Legacy of Lies” (henceforth known as “LoL” and on DVD as of Tuesday, July 28) into the player and there was no trailers, no menu, no studio logo – just straight into the movie and a title card reading, “Ukranian State Film Agency.” Could this be the Redboxiest movie that ever Redboxed?
“LoL” features my boi Scott Adkins, an English direct-to-video action actor who tends to do at least five flicks a year. I’m on a pretty strict Adkins Diet where I’ll watch whatever the dude drops – good, bad or otherwise. Adkins should be a much bigger star than he is. He probably could’ve and should’ve been James Bond or Batman. He kinda looks like Ben Affleck and could kick the crap outta Daniel Craig.
Adkins stars as Martin Baxter, a disgraced MI-6 agent with a 12-year-old daughter named Lisa (Honor Kneafsey). Martin makes ends meet by working as a nightclub bouncer (lending the film “John Wick”-lite action locales) and cage fighting as a mixed martial artist (lending the film a serious late ‘80s/early ‘90s Jean-Claude Van Damme vibe).
Martin’s life is complicated. He sees the zombified ghost of Lisa’s mother and his late girlfriend, Olga (Tetiana Nosenko), incessantly. He has sex with a prostitute named Suzanne (Andrea Vasiliou) to the same diagetic music Lisa’s listening to on earphones in the next room … creepy!
Martin’s life is further complicated by the appearance of Sacha (Yuliia Sobol, who reads like an Eastern Bloc Hot Topic version of AnnaSophia Robb). She’s a cub reporter whose reporter parents were friends of Martin’s before being killed. They had files or vials (My wife and I couldn’t tell which through all the thick accents – besides they’re either MacGuffins or McMuffins anyways!) that interest agents from the CIA (Martin McDougall, playing a dude named Trevor, so you just know he’s a dick!), MI-6 (Leon Sua as Edwards) and Spetsnaz GRU (Anna Butkevich as Tatyana). Tatyana wants the files/vials badly enough that she kidnaps Lisa and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t get them.
“LoL” is written and directed by Dutch filmmaker Adrian Bol. This is his second feature and his first in 15 years – he made four shorts in between. (Bol’s first flick is something called “Castingx” starring somebody called Ellen Ten Damme.) There’s a lot that works here and a lot that doesn’t.
The opening shootout is awesome with easily discernible geography. There are decent fights choreographed by Adkins’ frequent collaborator Tim Man (Not Tin Man!) peppered throughout. Much of what’s good comes from Adkins, who does the best he can with the material and budget ($4.5 million) given. I actually also really liked Kneafsey, who looks like Little Orphan Annie and brings a lot of smarts and sass to her role.
Things that didn’t work so well – the zombified ghost girlfriend (the movie died on the vine whenever she appeared) and a direct address to camera from Sobol’s Sacha in which she discusses #fakenews in a Russian accent that hits the nail so hard on the head it’s like Jesus hammered it himself.
The disc has a 25-minute making-of featurette that didn’t really grip me and a trailer. I wish “LoL” were titled “Legacy o’ Flies” instead like it’s Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery playing “Jeopardy” or a sequel to “Lord of the Flies.” Regardless, I’ll be here for whatever Adkins does next.