Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Tournament (2009)

There have been a number of movie variations on The Most Dangerous Game, most of them pretty bad, though that hasn't stopped me from having a soft spot for a couple of them (Turkey Shoot and The Running Man, I am looking at you).

This is a refreshingly good entry in the millieu, anchored by four strong performances at the centre of the film.  It's also aided by the numerous well-executed action sequences, which keep the film's motor humming along.

The premise of the film is that there's a competition every seven years: thirty assassins in a 'there can be only one' showdown, with $10 million on the line.  Frankly, that doesn't sound like all that much money for new certain death, and I'm dubious about the sustainability of killing off 29 of the top 30 assassins so regularly, but let's not quibble.

Each of the thirty participants is implanted with a tracker, so those running the tournament (and betting on the outcome) can see where they are and follow them via CCTV.  The trackers also allow the killers to find one another.  Oh, and if the game ends without a winner, they all explode and kill the remaining players.

This year, a smarter than average assassin cuts out his tracker and drops it into a pot of coffee, which an unfortunate priest happens to drink.  The priest suddenly finds himself being hunted by dozens of trained killers.  If he hadn't already been questioning his faith, he probably would be after that.  Fortunately for him, the first assassin to find him is also going through a crisis of conscience.  She recognises an innocent man, and sets out to protect him through the course of the game.  But of course, the game now sees him as a participant, and there can be only one winner ...

The climax is rather contrived and there's a scene in the middle of the movie where a bunch of guys somehow carry shotguns and assault rifles into a strip bar, but those dubious moments aside, this is a fun action romp.

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