A fearsome mercenary is forced to use the skills he’s trying to forget in David Hackl’s Dangerous, a cheapo bit of action product that has nearly as little personality as its title. Star Scott Eastwood has milked the resemblance he bears to his old man before, but here he augments the tough-guy squints with a confused, furrowed brow — it’s what his, uh, neurally atypical character does to show confusion when confronted with human emotion. (Viewers who share his affliction won’t be required to interpret many human emotions here.)
Right-leaning moviegoers who gravitate to a pic starring a junior Eastwood and a novelty-cast Mel Gibson will be rewarded with a story where lack of empathy for the less powerful isn’t just subtext, but central to the plot. But having done their counter-cancellation duty by clicking “rent” on this lifeless siege picture, some will likely decide they’re not obligated to watch through to the end credits.
The Bottom Line
Generic men-with-guns standoff can’t put its novel aspects across credibly.
After a well-deserved stretch in prison for murder, Eastwood’s Dylan Forrester hopes to change his flawed nature via meds and the “behavioral modification techniques” he learns from Gibson’s Dr. Alderwood. But Dylan (known as D) is so far down the antisocial spectrum that he doesn’t know how to act at his own brother’s funeral: He has to consult index cards that prompt him to say “I’m so sorry for your loss” and to “give hug.” When faced with his mother’s grief-fueled anger, he doesn’t get why she’s upset: After all, it’s been days since her son died.
(That mom, with her continuous protests that this living son is worthless and her dead one’s a saint, is the shakiest of many one-note characters fleshing out the supporting cast.)
D was still on parole when he learned of his brother Sean’s death, and broke the terms of his release to travel to the private island Sean was turning into a vacation resort when he died. He did a little more than break parole, actually, and as a result the FBI is hunting him. That pursuit never leads to anything, though, and the storyline may exist solely so Famke Janssen (as D’s pursuer) can round out a testosterone-heavy cast. (Playing a Black sheriff surrounded by white people, Tyrese Gibson has a similarly thankless job — building to one absurd sequence in which, with D cuffed and behind bars, Gibson still treats him like a major threat.)
All of Sean’s loved ones are gearing up for an uncomfortable reunion when a boat full of heavily armed goons lands on the island. Their leader, Cole (grinning menace Kevin Durand, identified in dialogue as “that guy with the big teeth”), used to be D’s boss, but he didn’t know D would be on the island; he’s actually there because of a deeply, deeply implausible connection to the deceased. Regardless, Cole and company start hunting for something hidden on the island and being a general threat to everyone who stands in their way. Good thing the building Sean was turning into an inn is a former Navy facility, complete with steel shutters on all the windows!
In the ensuing standoff, we all know D will eventually have to embrace the killer inside him. But boy, is he reluctant. He makes several phone calls, some during gunfights, to an increasingly intoxicated Dr. Alderwood, asking for advice on how to handle things. Viewers who’ve seen John Cusack make similar calls to Alan Arkin in Grosse Pointe Blank may start to cringe, worrying that screenwriter Christopher Borrelli is trying to make us laugh. But any lines that might be meant as comedy thud to the ground here, more lifeless than the bad guys D knocks out but refuses to kill.
At least all the gunfire and cat-and-mouse stuff distracts us from the film’s and Eastwood’s very shaky embodiment of D’s mental condition. The question of what Cole is looking for on this island also provides some welcome distraction. Unlike the FBI plotline, this one does eventually lead to something. While that something may not be satisfying, at least it’s not small.