Ever since its neon spandex clad heyday, professional wrestling or “sports entertainment” as it’s now known, has been used as an uneasy shortcut to Hollywood stardom. The path is so well-trodden WWE has its own films subdivision, WWE Studios, to produce and form feature films around whatever hulking mass o’ muscle is popular at the time. Thing is, these are always laughably bad and only serve to snatch a few more notes out of long-suffering parents’ wallets. The only real success story to have taken the perilous journey from the canvas to the red carpet is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and even then the public’s appreciation of him comes coupled with the massive amounts of ironic enjoyment usually reserved for the Schwarzeneggers and the Stallones of the acting world. With all that in mind, you can imagine my face when Recoil flopped onto my desk, proudly boasting that it’s an “action-packed must-see for adrenaline junkies and wrestling fans.”
Recoil is the story of Ryan Varrett (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin), a former cop, looking for revenge for the murder of his family and dealing out vigilante justice to those responsible. Varrett rocks up to the small town of Hope and finds the town is run by biker crime lord Drayke (Danny Trejo) and soon resolves to break Drayke’s stranglehold on the town. The plot is schlocky and cheesy, but that’s what I expected from this sort of film. Fresh from other “classics” with names like Tactical Force, Damage and Hunt to Kill, it seems that Steve Austin is looking to be the new Steven Seagal, skipping that whole “career” bit and going straight for the bargain bin period of his filmography. At least Austin looks like he could actually win a fight with somebody. Anyway, in this flick,“Stone Cold” grunts out his lines like a concussed Tommy Lee Jones and Danny Trejo is Danny Trejo, with less to do. Serinda Swan is by far the best thing in it, giving the film the closest it gets to actual acting, with her performance as Darcy, the local motel owner. It’s destined for a late-night slot on Channel 5 and it knows it.
Recoil is pretty damn bad, but in a compelling way. There’s no denying that Austin has screen presence, despite his lack of thespianism. It has everything you expect it to have: gruff one-liners, deaths aplenty and yes, even a scene where Steve Austin walks away from an explosion without looking back, in slow motion. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to leap up and applaud after that particular scene. It’s just a slight shame that the 15 certificate the film carries (legally) excludes the demographic that are most likely to be impressed by it. If I had been 13 upon viewing this film, this review would have been incredibly different, sprinkled liberally with sentences about how much Stone Cold kicks ass and how cool the biker fight in the electrified ring was.
It may sound like I’m being an insufferable critic prick, pouring scorn on the low hanging fruit, mixing up my metaphors and enjoying things “ironically” like a grade A wanker. Well, I am a bit, but not much. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sort of enjoy Recoil for what it was. It’s badgood, rather than just simply “bad”, which is infinitely more enjoyable.