I noticed this brand new WWE Studios movie starring Wesley Snipes, WWE Champion Seth Rollins, and Ann Heche?!?! Oh, I’ve got to see this. It’s another Soldiers in a Haunted Location thriller which all usually suck, but the cast is strange enough that it’s worth a look-see.
Armed Response (2017)
With a title like that, you’d think it’s a ’80s cop movie starring Gary Busey and a former-kickboxer turned actor. In fact, there was an Armed Response in 1986 starring David Carradine and Lee Van Cleef. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that one. But if it’s anything like this movie, I’ll have to pass. This one is a special kind of turkey.
Armed Response features all of the WWE Films hallmarks: crappy action, slumming name actors, and non-acting wrestlers, with shoddy production values and no thrills. Despite featuring Wesley Snipes prominently on the poster, this movie actually stars unremarkable TV actor Dave Annable. He’s a computer technician who’s son gets flattened by a semi in the opening minutes. Tragic past, alcoholism, and a chance to redeem himself are all requirements for these type of generic movies. And of course, this backstory is immediately forgotten about.
The plot doesn’t make any sense, so I’ll do my best to sum it up. We start off with a special team of commandos who seem to be alone in a prison. The IMDb calls it a military outpost, the actors in the movie call it an insane asylum, but basically it’s an empty prison, better to save money on actor salaries. They respond to an alarm and then something off-screen happens to each of them. We only see flashes of shooting and screaming. But don’t worry, the movie will take great pains to explain exactly what happens to these people later. Then General Wesley Snipes recruits washed up tech wizard Dave Annable to his team to find out what happened to the poor stiffs from the opening scene.
There’s some sort of super-computer that runs the Prison/Insane Asylum/Military Outpost. Annable fiddles with the keyboard a bit, and it seems the computer downloaded some ghosts. So then Wesley and Annable along with team members Ann Heche, Seth Rollins as the big guy, a computer nerd, a grizzled bearded guy, and another grizzled bearded guy, but this one is bald, and they slowly explore the empty prison. At this point, I feel the need to point out how utterly ridiculous these guys’ camera helmets look. It’s like a team of pre-teen GoPro bicyclists were handed bullet-proof vests and machine-guns. Those bullet-proof vests sure will come in handy when they’re fighting ghostly spirits. Producer of this movie and KISS bassist Gene Simmons, bald and haggard looking, shows up as an interrogated prisoner being super-scanned by the computer. The computer can read minds, but this too is unimportant to the story.
This is the kind of cheap horror movie where actors spend a ton of time wandering through empty hallways with guns drawn. Did they see something? Nope. How about this time? Nope. The usual disembodied voices and shadowy figures pop up here and there, but they seem disinterested in actually doing anything.
For a long time, nothing happens. It’s almost fascinating how little is going on. Eventually they locate every single member of the doomed opening scene team. And yep, they’re all corpses. Then Annable tap-taps on the keyboard and brings up the security footage of each of these people meeting their grisly, usually self-inflicted demise. You know what would’ve been better? If we actually saw these scenes in the beginning and then the team could just skip to figuring out how to solve the problem of prison ghosts. Then they find a big, bald inmate, the lone survivor, but unfortunately he only speaks Arabic. Then the gates close by themselves and they are trapped in an abandoned haunted prison. Still not scary. Still tedious and dull.
The movie is half over before the first ghostly thing happens. One of the nameless bearded dudes slowly investigates a van. This scene is unintentionally hilarious. The dude walks around behind it and the van turns itself on and runs him over, twice. He shoots his gun at the van because that might work, you never know. But sadly for him, his head is turned to strawberry-colored mush.
Then Wesley and the team rush in and try to resuscitate the 99.9% dead Redshirt. Dude, his head is pink slime, let him go. And why doesn’t the ghost van run over these people now that they’re all crowded around the dead guy right in the kill zone? I mean, the answer is because there’s 45 more minutes of this crappy movie left to get through, but these ghosts are almost allergic to accomplishing their beyond the grave revenge.
Let’s say the movie has a lot of ghost people popping up and disappearing. It’s never scary. Then Annable is dragged into an isolation tank by a ghost and flashbacks to when Wesley and his team massacres a bunch of Afghani villagers. This scene goes on forever and is really gratuitous and very stupid. Because now Wesley is a villain all of a sudden and they decide to blow up the prison they’re stuck in. Why bring in Annable if he’s a goody two shoes who’s only going to try to stop you, Wesley? Because this movie was written by morons. They proceed to have lots of shouting and double-crosses and long, badly filmed gunfights in the empty prison.
I know what you’re asking: how is wrestler Seth Rollins in his acting debut? Well, instead of fighting the giant Goldberg-looking inmate, which could be a good slobberknocker, he gets stuck fighting the 5 foot tall, 90 pound Ann Heche, and gets his ass kicked. I’m not kidding. Well, the first fight she headbutts him and he sells it like he was hit by a sledgehammer. But then a wussy computer effect bomb blows up. And then Seth’s about to get Ann Heche who’s slowly crawling away, but the ghosts yank his gun away and shoot him with it. His death is a highlight of the movie. Then Wesley loses two fistfights to Annable, which is kind of sad.
This is a deadly dull movie that’s fascinating in how little effort went into making it. There’s lots of shadowy shadows that cause the actors to do that double take of looking at the shadow, then shaking their heads like, oh it’s just a shadow. Then the shadow returns out of the corner of the frame. Then the actor slowly wanders off down a hallway with gun drawn to try and shoot the shadow ghost. Another total crap-fest from WWE Studios. You probably only need to see this for the Ann Heche-Seth Rollins throwdown. Wesley and Anne Heche deserve much better than this.