AWOL-72: A fun genre bending action of the action film

Conrad Miller, is an AWOL military officer who has been accused of selling secrets to ex KGB during the cold war. When Miller realizes he has been tracked by his counterpart hit man Myron, Miller knows his love. And his compromise has been threatened, and he does the only thing humanly possible. RUN.

Those of a certain age (me unfortunately) might remember Bros, the 80’s pop group headed up by brothers Matt and Luke Goss. Both disappeared off the face of the planet when their pop career fizzled out. Despite such dazzling hits as “When will I be famous?” Luke re-appeared and transitioned to acting (Matt carried on with music) finding a lucrative Hollywood career. He broke out in Blade 2 and then Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Since then he’s become a reliable fixture in the straight to DVD market finding a niche as the cheaper alternative to Jason Statham (filling that chrome dome, brooding and mono-syllabic presence reasonably well). That said, as Goss proved under the visionary eye of Guillermo Del Toro (Blade 2Hellboy II), to call him merely a poor man’s Statham would be a disservice. He’s much better than that.

As with his other recent release, War Pigs, Goss plays a soldier haunted by the past. In AWOL-72 ( Vong Quay Ke Thu) he’s the kind of guy who sleeps with his dog tags on. Goss is Conrad Miller, an Marine gone AWOL (absent without leave) who is on the run from Russian police. The LAPD and a deadly assassin and carrying secret government information. A film of twists and turns, cat and mouse and pretty much every cliché you can imagine from this type of action thriller.

The film, as per the standard, takes its time to fully unveil what’s going on, why and where everyone stands, without necessarily being engaging enough for the audience to particularly care. Goss has found himself predominantly cast as an action man, so the audience is mostly waiting (with bated breath obviously) for the ass-whuppins to begin. Those expecting that will be disappointed as the film is fairly light on fisticuffs and carnage. It’s all a little dull. Goss spends a large chunk of the film tied to a chair. Brief moments of violence enliven proceedings (but not much) but the film is cheap (CG muzzle flash alert).

Goss to his credit is solid enough. He’s a solid enough actor, even if he might not quite have the presence of Statham for example. Though in truth, given the right circumstance, he’s a better actor. Goss isn’t given much more to do here than look haunted, quizzical or slightly miffed on a rotation. The rest of the cast are fairly average, with RZA taking second billing and seeming a little bored. Bookeem Woodbine is equally uninspired.

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