Luke Evans, the Welsh leading man of No One Lives, was most recently seen onscreen as Owen Shaw, the antagonist in the sixth Fast and the Furious movie.
And as eminently and instantly forgettable a villain as Shaw was, so it proved one of the most memorable moments of that multiplex-conquering monument to muscle, muscle cars and not a whole lot else arrived post-credits, when (ahem, SPOILER alert) True LAD.com’s icon of the decade, Jason Statham, suddenly popped up as Shaw’s vengeful brother.
Said cameo from The Stath prompted no little appreciative whooping and hollering in the Fast & Furious 6 screening I was present at, and No One Lives feels like Evans’ attempt to claim at least a fraction of the chrome-domed ass-kicker’s fanatical following for himself. He’s certainly got the rasping tough guy voice down pat. Indeed, he sounds like he’s auditioning to play Batman in the next Asylum mockbuster.
Originally cast in the Ryan Gosling role in Only God Forgives before dropping out to star as Bard the Bowman in the next two Hobbit movies, Evans here at last gets to play a violent, taciturn fatalist; a kind of trailer-towing Hannibal Lector, with a spot of everyone’s favourite Robin Hood-serial killer, Dexter, tossed in.
But as painful as the grisly fates his Driver character metes out to No One Lives’ cast of one-dimensional stooges appear to be, nothing in this movie hurts so bad as its obvious desire to be the next so-terrible-it’s-great cult sensation.
Directed by Ryûhei Kitamura, whose prior US-made horror, Midnight Meat Train, was the victim of studio politics and a botched stateside release, and produced by WWE Studios, the acting is largely on a par with the standard of dramatics upon which the latter organisation’s grappling empire has been built.
Passable enough in the case of actual WWE star Brodus Clay, who cameos as an ill-fated enforcer (he actually enjoys the film’s most memorable moment after his character has expired, becoming the key prop in an OTT spin on the aforementioned Hannibal Lector’s ‘masked’ escape in Silence of the Lambs). Pretty unforgivable on the part of Lee Tergesen, who is so limp as gangster Hoag as to negate all goodwill you might feel towards the actor – previously part of the greatest-ever small screen ensemble in HBO prison drama Oz.
No One Lives doesn’t even live up to its own billing, with a number of survivors emerging from the whole bloody scenario, most likely owing to the studio’s hunger for potential sequels. But the one area where the title DOES ring true is in encapsulating the empty implausibility of its cast of characters; cartoon figures, one and all, with the same ring of truth about them as a Luis Suarez tumble in the penalty box.
No One Lives is released in the UK on 6th September