Castle Falls marks Dolph Lundgren’s first film as a director since he shot Icarus in 2010. It’s also his fifth teaming with co-star Scott Adkins. Toss in a plot that sounds slightly reminiscent of Walter Hill’s underrated 1992 film Trespass and you have a film with a lot of potential. The question is, can it live up to them?
Mike Wade (Scott Adkins, Abduction, One Shot) is down on his luck. His career as a fighter is over, he can’t even make the cut for a local MMA event and he’s been evicted from his apartment. Now he’s living in his truck and working as a labourer on the demolition of Castle Heights Hospital. And then his luck turns around, he finds several bags full of money hidden in the abandoned building.
Needless to say, he isn’t the only person who knows about it. Prison guard Richard Ericson (Dolph Lundgren, Aquaman, Hard Night Falling) heard about it from one of the inmates. His daughter Emily (Ida Lundgren, Command Performance) has cancer and the bills are piling up, he could really use that money. And then there’s Deacon Glass (Scott Hunter, Captain America: Civil War, Battleship), that money belongs to his incarcerated brother, and if anyone is going to steal it, it’s going to be him.
The first half-hour of Castle Falls is slow going. We only get two fights, Wade’s tryout and Ericson roughing up an inmate. It’s meant to be character development, but the script by Andrew Knauer (The Last Stand, Ghost Team One) just kind of goes through the motions with it and it feels like it’s been stretched out to kill time on what was obviously a lower-budget film.
Once it gets down to business though, Castle Falls delivers plenty of what we watch films like this for. The building is set for demolition in ninety minutes, which means Wade, Erickson, Deacon and his gang all are highly motivated to take everyone else out and make their escape as quick as possible. Especially, as in Nightshooters, nobody knows they’re there, and three million dollars don’t do much when you’re buried under a few tons of concrete.
I was hoping for a good throw down between Lundgren and Adkins but the one we do get is cut short by the arrival of the bad guys. After that, they’re forced to work together, despite Wade’s reluctance to share the cash. Thankfully Deacon’s gang, while hardly huge, has enough guys to make sure Castle Falls has a decent body count. Hiring Tim Man (I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, Boyka: Undisputed) as fight coordinator means that those fights deliver on the quality as well as the quantity. That’s a lesson the makers of Bruce Willis’ recent films could do with learning, there’s more excitement in one of Castle Falls’ fights than in all of Apex and Deadlock combined.
While their best pairing will probably always be Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, Adkins and Lundgren have good chemistry in both as adversaries and unwilling allies. Veteran stunt man Hunter makes a good villain, but given his background, I wish he’d used his gun less and his fists more. Among the supporting villains, Kim DeLonghi (Beyond the Law, The Last Son) stands out as Deacon’s psychotic girlfriend Kat.
Overall, Castle Falls is a solid action film with enough going on to keep your attention once you get past the first act. There’s also a couple of in-jokes for fans. Castle Falls is currently available in theatres, On Demand and on Digital from Shout! Studios. Shout! Factory will release it on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 28th.