Saturday night’s all right for fighting
NEVER BACK DOWN Directed by Jeff Wadlow. Starring Sean Faris, Djimon Hounsou, Cam Gigandet, Amber Heard, Evan Peters
15A cert, gen release, 110 min I’VE SEEN some hypocritical films in my time, but this rampaging orgy of inanity achieves hitherto unimagined levels of phoniness.
The chaos that stands in for a plot finds an angry youth (Sean Faris) from quiet Iowa – he actually looks old enough to remember The Glitter Band – being forced to move to some awful, middle-class corner of Florida. He immediately gets drawn into the unlicensed prize-fighting that takes place daily in his high school. He falls in love with a girl. But she adores the guy with the most money, the biggest fists and the tiniest frontal lobes.
One suspects that, hoping to achieve a zeitgeist-defining moment in the manner of Saturday Night Fever, the producers have modelled the details of the brawling (footage of fights is posted on the internet) on information just recently ripped from the headlines. Being responsible fellows, they were, of course, appalled and have organised their plot so that the hero soon tires of the unmonitored scrapping and falls in with a responsible trainer (Djimon Hounsou).
“You don’t fight outside this gym,” he warns. “Well, not unless you really, really want to,” he should have added.
Before the credits roll, the hero does, of course, find an excuse to get back in the ring and kick people really hard in the head. Over and over again.
Never Back Down is, to be fair, quite well made and reasonably competently acted. Sadly, it is also a great big fake. Stay well away.