Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 1, 2020)
It feels like I see a new direct-to-video Dolph Lundgren movie every two months or so. 2019 closes out with one more effort of this sort, an action tale called Acceleration.
Crime kingpin Vladik Zorich (Lundgren) finds himself double-crossed by Rhona (Natalie Burn), a trusted associate. Unsurprisingly, this turn of events leaves him unhappy and interested in revenge.
To get back at Rhona, Vladik kidnaps her son Mika (Dobromir Mashukov). If she wants to get her child back alive, Rhona needs to carry out Vladik’s violent wishes across one wild evening.
In theory, that sounds like a pretty good set-up for an action flick. In reality, Acceleration comes almost completely devoid of thrills or entertainment.
Even at a mere 85 minutes, Acceleration feels bloated and over-stuffed. How could such a simple tale become such a mess?
I think co-director/writer Michael Merino and co-director Daniel Zirilli suffered from delusions of grandeur. They appear to fashion themselves as the next Tarantino, so rather than tell a taut action tale that focuses on Rhona’s missions, we get a meandering road to nowhere.
In an attempt at complexity, Acceleration splits onto tangential narrative points an awful lot of the time. These prove ineffective and simply distract from the basic story at the core.
That said, I can’t claim for certain that a better-focused Acceleration would offer a clear improvement over the clumsy disaster we find. Even when the movie concentrates on Rhona and her mission, matters never ignite.
While she seems physically right for the part, Burn lacks any obvious acting skills. This means that we find ourselves with a hole at the center of the story, as Burn’s inept dramatic abilities mean we don’t invest in her role or journey.
Lundgren phones in his performance – literally, as most of our scenes with Vladik show him in telecommunication with Rhona. Lundgren gets little to do and makes next to no impact.
That proves true for the entire project, and even a ridiculous plot twist toward the end doesn’t help redeem it. Somewhere here I could find a lively “race against the clock” action flick, but Acceleration never finds a groove, so it becomes a total dud.