The 2nd - review (Netflix)
I watch it so as you do not have to.
Brief Synopsis: a group of mercenaries are tasked with kidnapping a senator’s daughter as she leaves college for the Christmas holidays. Their plans are interrupted when a green beret, the father of one of the daughter’s friends, realises that something is not right and intervenes.
Is it any good?: The 2nd is a pretty dumb title for a very dumb film. The story is Die Hard meets Zero Dark Thirty, with some double-cross nonsense thrown in to make it more convoluted. The acting is uniformly terrible and the script even worse. One to give a miss.
Spoiler territory: green berets, a domestic terrorist, Hansen Cross (Anthony Oh), sporting the classic Middle Eastern looks with an added scowl, is contacted and told that his target is senator Jeffers (William Katt). He is to make it messy, so I’m guessing a big bomb. As a crowd protest outside the senator’s office building, inside Jeffers is informed that a Delta team is coming to extract him.
There has been a bomb threat. Jeffers, who is about to be interview by an attractive journalist (Reisa Miller), is eager to voice his pro-gun views to the journalist and goes ahead with the interview, even as his aide advises against it. Vic Davis (Ryan Phillippe) and Kyle (Tank Jones), the Delta unit, are on their way to pick up Jeffers.
They flip a coin to decide who gets to pull him out of his interview. Vic wins and goes and gets the senator. On the news, it is being reported that Jeffers’ office has had a bomb threat against it. It is also reported that the CIA director, Phillips’ (Richard Burgi), daughter died in a bomb attack. He is pro-gun.
Jeffers is with Vic and Kyle. He wants to know what is going on. Vic tells him that he is on a list of already dead politicians. Jeffers gets a call on his mobile. Vic screams at him that they are trying to track him. Why they did not secure his phone beforehand is not a question that is addressed.
A car crashes into them. Vic tells the senator to stay behind him as multiple masked men start to shoot at them. The mask seems to make them especially stupid as most of them shoot at Vic, Kyle, the senator and the other agents who were backing them up, in full view. Maybe the mask makes them bulletproof? They do not and, even with most of the agents being terrible shots, they end up dead.
Kyle gets captured by Cross, who is wearing a suicide vest. It does not look good for Kyle. He is a black guy and - though I don’t like to play the race card - is expendable to both the plot and follows the rules of film where the black guy dies first. He is also the sidekick of the hero, so…
Kyle, dumb hunk that he is, tells Vic to shoot Cross. Cross tells him to lower his gun. Vic listens to Cross and lowers his gun. Why? Does he really think the psychopath with the suicide vest is not going to kill Kyle? Cross points his gun at Vic. Kyle, a hero to the end, detonates Cross’ vest. They both die.
Sometime later, Vic is going to pick up his son, Shawn (Jack Griffo), from college, so as they can spend some time together. As he packs up some gear, he drops his phone and it breaks like its 1990, immediately failing to work. His significant other, Olivia (Samaire Armstrong), comes to see him off and tell him to bond with his son.
She lost her mother at a young age, so she knows how he feels. So there is that. Vic tells her not to forget to lock the doors when she is in the house. Strange but okay…
At college, Shawn is fencing with Erin Walton (Lexi Simonsen). She wins the bout and a bet the two of them had. Shawn asks Charlie (Patrick McLain), to pay Erin. He will pay him back. Later, Erin asks Shawn when he is getting picked up. He tells her that his dad is running late. What about her? She tells him that her father is too busy with the gun-control issue and is sending a driver.
Neal (Jacob Grodnik) comes into the gymnasium and tells all the students that they need to leave by five. Neal catches up with Erin and Shawn again and reminds them they need to leave by five. Erin tells him that she is not getting picked up until six. Neal tells her he will make an exception for her. Shawn has to leave by five.
Vic has been slowed by traffic and is running late. At the college, Rogers (Kia Mousavi), campus security, stops Erin’s driver. He does not recognise him so he needs to check his license. The driver shoots him. Rogers, who is not going down like a punk, sounds the alarm. In the college building, Charlie asks Shawn to make sure that everybody has left the campus.
He was meant to do it but he has to catch a flight. Erin is the only person who has not left. Shawn is reluctant to seem too pushy, as he obviously likes Erin. Charlie reminds him that he owes him. Shawn agrees to finish the check. Charlie tells him to give the list to Neal when he has finished. What could Neal be doing?
Rogers sounding of the alarm has brought the cavalry. Driver (Casper Van Dien) waits with a cane. He is told to put the cane down. He obliges. One of the campus cops approaches him and asks who he is. Driver is not a man who likes to answer questions it seems and immediately thrust a hand into the campus cop’s throat. That will teach him not to get to close. He shoots his three colleagues and then kills him. A bit over an overreaction but it shows he is a bad man. On the campus, Shawn goes and checks on Erin to see how long she is going to take.
Outside, Driver and a crew of five, half of whom, for no good reason, are dressed in disguise, look to capture Erin. Vic arrives at the campus. He is met by a guard - one of the crew, so that makes seven - he lets him in. He informs Driver that Vic is coming. He should not be any trouble he is there to pick up his son. Never seen Die Hard then.
Shawn and Erin leave the campus building. Vic meets Shawn and the driver comes and takes Erin’s bag. Erin tells the driver that she has forgotten her laptop and goes back into the building. Shawn tells her he will wait until she has left as he promised Charlie he would make sure everyone had left. Erin mentions that the driver is not her usual one.
Father and son have a stilted conversation as they wait for Erin to come back. Shawn covers his motorcycle, which just happens to be right outside of the campus. A suspicious Vic notes the crew members standing around, watching. He tells Shawn to get in the car. He is going to get Erin. Vic asks Erin to call her father, Justice Walton (Randy Charach), and check if he changed the driver.
One of Driver’s crew, who is tracking all the electronics from a van, cuts the call just as she asks about the driver. Erin had already got the answer. He did not change the driver. Driver tells the girl in the van to cut the lights. It is not even dark, so the move makes no sense but they do it anyway.
Vic, he’s a green beret you know, tells Erin to get down. Because that is what one does in a power cut. He checks out of the window. The crew are not doing anything differently from what they were doing before. Maybe the driver is eco-friendly. Shawn decides to go and look for his dad and Erin.
One of the crew, posing as a cleaner, knocks on Erin’s dorm door. Driver tells the crew to move in and extract the target. This is serious. He has gone full military speak. In the van, the electrics girl is manipulating a satellite to find Erin. Yes, she is. Driver tells the rest of the crew that Vic and Shawn are expendable. Surprised they asked.
Paula (Nicole Reddinger), is watching the building with a sniper rifle. In the building, Vic is telling Erin to stay close. Driver calls Erin. He quickly realises that she knows he is not there to help her. He tells her to put Vic on the phone. Driver tells him all the usual bollocks; surrounded, no way out, all communications on lockdown. Vic is unfazed. He is Delta!
Driver gives him five minutes to bring Erin out. There is an hour of runtime left in the film so…anyhoo, Shawn comes across the fake cleaner. He asks him if he has seen Vic. They both go into the lift. The fake cleaner tries to kill him. Shawn, who was raised by a green beret, fights the professional mercenary.
They fall out of the lift and Vic beats the mercenary unconscious. Director Phillips goes to visit Walton. He tells him that he has his daughter and he wants him to support some changes in amendments. Back in the college, Vic wants to get to a phone. He leaves Erin and Shawn. He gives Shawn a gun.
Jade (Jennifer Wenger), the electrics girl, tells one of the team that they are in the lift, heading for the ground. The big lump, Rodriguez (Esteban Cueto) is fooled by the ‘old phones in the lift ruse’ and is overpowered and taken hostage by Vic. Jade calls the driver into the van. She has found out that Vic is a highly decorated green beret.
Driver tells his team, recounting, for all listening, including the kids, his violent and impressive military achievements. Shawn is shocked to find out his father has quite the body count on his resumé. Erin notices that Shawn is bleeding and insist on tending his wounds.
Meanwhile, Vic has got to the phone and found that communications go no further than the van. Rodriguez takes the opportunity of Vic’s distraction to attack him. After getting thrown around by the much bigger Rodriguez, Vic hits him with a weights plate and kills him.
As Erin dresses Shawn’s wounds, he tells her about his miserable upbringing and how his mum died, killed in revenge for one of his dad’s missions and how it made Vic pull away from him. Yawn. The fake cleaner, who wants to kill Vic because of the beating he took, goes after the kids. He beats on Shawn a bit and is about to Strangle Erin but is stopped as Shawn points a gun at him.
Phillips threatens Walton. I’m still not sure if he is pro or anti-guns, it is all very unclear. Erin and Shawn hide in a closet. Jade and her magical satellite, see Vic on the side of the building. The driver tells Paula to shoot him. She cannot see him properly. Driver sends Krieg (Christopher Troy) and Rose (Kelina Rutherford) to get him.
Paula has a shot and takes it. She tells Driver that he is down. Driver tells Krieg to confirm he is dead. Erin decides to sacrifice herself to save Shawn. She will give herself up. Vic fights Rose and Krieg. He stabs Rose and slaps Krieg with a plank. Erin runs into a security guard. He is part of the crew - there is a lot of them, I have lost count. He punches her to the ground. Shawn, who was following after her, points a gun at the fake guard.
The guard, seeing how scared Shawn is, warns of the possible insertion to his posterior the gun is likely to make if he does not shoot him. Vic comes around the corner and obliges, shooting the guard dead. Another person turns up. It is Neal. He does not know what is going on. Vic asks if he knows another way out of the building.
Yes, there is a service tunnel. They believe him even though this is the most obvious and blatant, snake-in-the-grass double-cross in cinema, and he tells them there is an old service elevator. They go to the elevator. Vic is holding off another gunman - I have really lost count - and Neal and Erin get in the lift. Shawn goes back to help his dad, leaving Neal to take Erin. The fool!
Neal delivers Erin to Driver and Jade. Neal asks Driver for payment. He is not a man who has watched a lot of films, obviously, and does realise what happens to rats like him! Driver beats him to death with his cane.
Driver tells Jade to take care of the rest. So she puts a bomb in the lift and sends it back up. Boom! Driver sends a video of the captive Erin to Walton. Walton messages Phillips to tell him he has done as he asked. Okay…
Vic gets himself and Shawn out of the rubble. Driver is putting Erin in the car as Shawn and Vic get to the exit. Shawn runs to go and save Erin, even as Vic warns him there is a sniper. As Shawn shoots at Driver, Paula trains her gun on him. Somehow, Vic manages to get across the road to where Paula is perched and gets into fisticuffs with her. Paula puts up a far better fight than her two colleagues did earlier almost besting Vic. He knocks her out.
Driver and the remaining crew leave, taking Erin. Vic jumps onto the roof of the van. Yes, he does. Shawn gets on his bike - the one conveniently parked outside the campus - and gives chase. Vic climbs into the van and throws Paula out, not very gentlemanly at all.
He fights the fake cleaner again after the other occupant, Babcock (Gene Freeman), gets accidentally shot. The van crashes into a parked car and there is an explosion. That causes Shawn to lose control of his bike. He is uninjured but not for long. Driver shoots him through the shoulder and takes him hostage because…I do not know.
At the location where Philips is meeting Walton, Driver arrives with the two kids. Vic gets an automatic rifle from the van and flags down Walton. He is there to help. The sign he has written in blood is enough to convince Walton.
Back in the warehouse - it’s always a warehouse - Phillips is feeling bossy and tells Jade to drown Erin. They should get rid of Shawn as well. Walton arrives at the warehouse. He starts to run. The car blows up and Vic comes out shooting. Vic goes into the warehouse and kills multiple henchmen, all of whom are terrible shots and make no effort not to get shot themselves.
He comes face to face with Driver. They fight. Shawn manages to overpower his captive. Out on the pier - Erin’s supposed to get drowned remember - Jade and Erin end up fencing. Shawn fights another henchman and stabs him in the neck. He grabs his gun. Vic is looking for an elusive Driver in the warehouse.
Erin, it turns out, is not a great fencer and is overcome by Jade. Jade decides she is going to kill her with the sabre. As she is about to stab her, Shawn shoots her dead. Walton finds his daughter and Shawn on the pier. Vic and Driver keep fighting. Driver gets blown out of the window.
Out on the pier, Phillips is about to shoot Walton. Vic comes out and tells him he has three seconds to change his mind. Phillips leaves. Back in his apartment, Phillips is met by a severely burnt Driver. Driver kills him.
The next day, Shawn is in the hospital recovering. Vic sits by his bed. Erin comes to see him and Vic leaves the two kids alone. As Vic goes into the hospital reception, he is confronted by a man. He looks around and notes that several people are converging on him. Another man drags Olivia into the reception. Vic kicks one of the assailants in the face. The end.
Final thoughts: The 2nd is hokum and nonsense. The story is convoluted and muddle and the acting is poor from just about everybody on show. Admittedly, the script is wretched and the actors are working with terrible material. Written by Eric Bromberg, James Bromberg and Paul Taegel, with direction by Brian Skiba, The 2nd is a real chore to watch.
The film's runtime is only ninety-three minutes but it feels much longer, the lacklustre fight scenes and poor camera work make it almost painful to watch. I suffered the film twice and I am still not sure whether they were for or against the second amendment, the amendment that gives the film its, frankly, stupid title.
The 2nd is an action film with underwhelming action sequences and a story that goes nowhere. What is even more galling about the action sequences is that there are a lot of them and none of them are good or particularly memorable.
The 2nd is not good and not worth an hour and a half of anybody’s time. That they left scope for a sequel is hubris in the extreme. Avoid.