Most of the time, low budget direct to video action movies are tedious messes with dodgy acting and poor pacing. The best you can usually hope for is something being so bad that it crosses over into that ironically entertaining zone. However, there odd exceptions where a movie manages to be actually sort of ok. Such is the case with 2017’s Never Leave Alive. It’s a fun, tight action movie featuring solid performances and a comprihensible story. While it’s nothing groundbreaking, It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re feeling in the mood to see a throwback to fun 80’s action movies like Deadly Prey or even Gymkata (and I LOVE Deadly Prey and Gymkata)
Never Leave Alive is the story of Rick Rainsford, a celebrity hunter and reality TV star. He’s an arrogant, hard drinking asshole who has clearly let his fame go to his head. On a hunting expidition to a remote island, his ship sinks, and he is stranded with Anna, the photographer assigned to document the voyage. They are rescued from the wreckage by a couple of shady Russian dudes who turn out to be amoral hunting enthusiasts who have rare game delivered to their island to hunt. After being drugged and incapacitated, Rick and Anna find out that they are the targets of the next hunt.
So, this formula is pretty well worn. there have been movies about people being hunted almost as long as there have been movies. What makes this movie fun is largely in the performances. John Hennigan stands out as Rick. Certain folks might know him as Johnny Nitro/Morrison/Mundo, a fairly succesfull pro-wrestler. He shows here that he can carry an action movie. He’s good in the action scenes, and he has enough natural charisma to play the leading man. He definitely has a future in acting if he should choose to give up life between the ropes. Also doing good work is Michelle Taylor as Anna. Her role as the naggy will they/won’t they love interest could have been extremely bland, but she definitely brings some grit and charm to the performance.
This movie has a few flaws, most glaring is the lack of oomph in some of the action scenes. I wish it had been a bit more over the top. The final showdown between Rick and the evil Russian pursuing him is fun, but everything else falls a little flat. The middle of the movie is especially repetitive. And yeah, the story is extremely basic. That’s not abnormal for an action movie by any means, but it’s worth mentioning. Its worst flaw though, is that it exists in that middle ground between competent and silly, where if it just went a bit more in either direction, it would have been worlds more enjoyable. That being said, this movie is extremely watchable, and pretty fun for what it is.
So, if you like action movies, you’d probably like this movie. I’d say it’s worth seeing on the merits of the performances of the 2 leads, but it’s probably skippable if you aren’t interested in watching people being chased through the jungle for 90 minutes. While Hennigan isn’t on the level of Duane Johnson or Dave Bautista in terms of box office prowess, he could be the next wrestler to make it big in the industry given the right vehicle. He’s really good, the movie is fine, I guess. Watch it if you want. I’m not gonna tell you how to live your life.
Never Leave Alive is out now via Wild Eye Releasing!
You can find Johnny on twitter.