So once again we have survived.

The Package (2013)

tn_packageTHE PACKAGE continues two DTV trends that I enjoy:

1. Stone Cold Steve Austin, possible heir to the DTV throne, co-starring with all the other icons of the DTV Action Era. This is his Dolph Lundgren movie. Previously he did his Michael Jai White movie TACTICAL FORCE, his Danny Trejo movie RECOIL and his Steven Seagal movie MAXIMUM CONVICTION. He’s still got to do a Van Damme, an Adkins and a Cuba Gooding Jr.

2. Dolph doing colorful supporting roles where he gets to goof around more. He also stole the show in ONE IN THE CHAMBER and THE EXPENDABLESes and I haven’t seen STASH HOUSE or SMALL APARTMENTS but I bet it’s true of those too. Maybe all these roles where he gets to experiment more will bring something new to him next time he’s the leading man again.

Austin is the star here, playing Tommy, loyal enforcer to the gangster Big Doug (Eric Keenleyside). He’d like to get out, and his wife thinks he could just be a bouncer, but after Afghanistan he feels like he’s only good at violence, plus he’s working off the debt of his little brother Eddie (Lochlyn Munro), who stole from Big Doug and is now in the joint. But now Tommy is offered an important job that would pay off the family debt. He just has to deliver “the package” to “the German” (Dolph). I don’t want to give anything away but in my opinion I get the feeling there might be more to this gig than he’s told.

mp_packageSee the thing is there are a couple different bosses vying for power here. The other guy finds out that Tommy is bringing something valuable to the German, so he sends a crew of ex-military contractors to intercept it. They’re led by Darren Shahlavi (who played Twister, the asshole British fighter in IP MAN 2), they are heavily armed and very professional, but they still get shown up as chumps after they kill Tommy’s partner, flip his car and shoot at him in a small town grocery and feed store. The best part is how he K.O.s Shahlavi by slamming him against a shelf, and the fucker wakes up when it’s over and chews out all the others like it’s their fault. Hey man, I was unconscious the whole time, so it can’t be my fault.

One of the guys in this scene is so big he gets away with calling Stone Cold “little girl.”

The inclusion of military contractors leads to an interesting bit of politics. The woman on the team, who really has it out for Tommy (he killed her fiancee in the feed store, boo hoo) is said to have been a former U.S. intelligence operative who interrogated al Quaeda suspects. She brags about how sadistic she is. Off the top of my head I can’t think of another action movie that uses our reputation for post 9-11 human rights abuses as a bad guy bonafide. That might even be a little bit subversive.

When one lesser known white guy screen martial artist fails it’s time to call in another one. Former PKA and PKC kickboxing champion of the world Jerry Trimble (TERMINATOR WOMAN) is the man they send in after Shahlavi. It’s cool to see him again, fitting nicely into the veteran-mob-guy role but also getting to fight. There are some obvious stunt double shots but you can see him getting in poses and stuff. He fights Tommy with the action movie atmosphere double whammy of light snow at night and sparks from a welding torch. After a while I started to wonder why those guys keep welding on top of that platform and never seem to notice there’s guys fighting beneath them. Just minding their own business, I guess.

Meanwhile people are trying to kill Dolph too, and he’s not having it. He disagrees. In one scene he’s set up to be shot to pieces by a bunch of guys with machine guns. He picks up a small steak knife from a table, kills all of them, washes the knife in the sink. Also in this scene his arms burst through a wall to strangle a guy, clearly a Jason Voorhees move. In another scene he has a bunch of mob enforcers tied up and wounded and he decides for some reason to give them a cooking show style demonstration of how to make a healthy smoothie.

Austin is a good example of this type of actor I like who has pretty much no range at all, but a very likable action hero persona and screen presence. You watch his movies for the tiny variations. The unique angle here is his relationship with his boss, who you assume is really out to screw him. His wife implies as much, asking why he keeps a gun under the table if they’re partners. But in fact parties’ claims of respect and loyalty to each other are genuine.

Well, I guess Big Doug does betray him in the way that Lando betrayed Han. But, like Lando, he tries to make up for it with his later actions. I like when Tommy calls Doug to try to get out of the job, Doug sort of shuts him down but instead of getting mad Tommy agrees to do what he wants and just says, “Thanks Doug.” That’s a Stone Cold thing, a kind of matter of fact acceptance of the way shit is, instead of whining or yelling at somebody.

Lando and Han are from “STAR WARS” by the way.

Tommy has other moments of vulnerability besides trying to get out of the job. There’s a scene where he’s waiting for a doctor, looks at himself shirtless in the mirror and says “Still here, old man. Still here.” He’s a survivor, but he seems to think his luck will run out eventually. Before calling Doug to try to get out of the job he calls his wife. He pretends it’s to say hi but you know it’s to hear her voice one more time in case he gets his ass killed real soon.

In a more standard Stone Cold moment he calls Shahlavi “sunshine.” And he trades a Mercedes for a big pickup truck. I mean, this is a guy who is not gonna feel comfortable driving anything that is not a big pickup truck.

His “just how badass is his?” moment is when he’s tied to a chair, headbutts the boss man one time and kills him. “Killed him with one hit,” says one of the mercs. “I never seen anything like it, chief!”

This one starts in fake Seattle, but he’s traveling to The German in Vancouver, so parts of it are the rare Vancouver-as-Vancouver. One question: how is he hitchhiking and suddenly he’s in Canada? Do they really let you bring a hitchhiker over the border with you?

The director is stuntman Jesse V. Johnson. I enjoyed his aging-hitman-Eric-Roberts movie THE BUTCHER, although it could’ve used a whole lot of streamlining. THE PACKAGE is much tighter though some of the scenes with his wife and stuff seem too long and slow. I wish the whole movie was as confident as the opening sequence where footage of bowling alley machinery gives way to a mini-story about Tommy coming to collect money from an obnoxious bowler. My two favorite touches in this scene: the way they communicate which friend sold him out and the manager who pulls a shotgun on him and won’t let him leave, saying it’s because he has his shoes.

Every once in a while there’s a good laugh, always intentional. When Austin and Lundgren finally meet up Lundgren says, “Hello, Tommy.”

“Hey, The German,” he replies.

Writer Derek Kolstad also did ONE IN THE CHAMBER, which is arguably slightly more inspired, but they’re both pretty solid. Jesse V. Johnson trivia: the same year he made this he did stunts in LINCOLN and THE MASTER.

acr_thepackage

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 at 2:12 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

24 Responses to “The Package (2013)”

  1. I agree that this does Austin’s career some good, but I don’t think Dolph is equally well served. And why the hell does Johnson use a double in The German’s two major fight scenes?

  2. I love that you could take Austin and Dolph’s first dialogue exchange is a reference to their encounter in The Expendables. This one didn’t light me on fire, but I’m definitely down with what Johnson chooses to do next.

  3. Saw this last month and I thought it was good, if maybe that goodness is weighted more on the second half than the first, in terms of the action. I like Stone Cold as an action star, but I’ve noticed that even with several movies under his belt, his movie fighting style is still a bit off. He still throws a punch like a wrestler than an actual brawler. I did appreciate him using the Samoan Drop on Dolph at one point though(it’s one of The Rock’s moves, by the way. Symbolic?). Speaking of Dolph, yeah, I loved him in this. That smoothie scene was terrific. It’s like “Workout With Dolph” took a more psychotic turn. Also, he’s dressed in his pyjamas for the final fight.

    VAGUE SPOILERS:

    I have to say, I think when they reveal the connection between Tommy and German, it makes the reveal of what The Package is even more ridiculously outlandish. I mean, is that why these two were hanging around with each other in the first place?

  4. I’ll check this out at some point, but I just gotta know… In the excellent Gene Hackman THE PACKAGE, Tommy Lee Jones is the package (spoiler). So who or what is the package in this one. I’m thinking there’s no fucking way it’s better than Tommy Lee Jones. And if you’re not gonna deliver (get it? wink wink nudge nudge say no more!) something or someone better than Tommy Lee Jones, couldn’t you pick a different title?

  5. Well….

    SPOILER

    Stone Cold’s boss gives him a little box, but it turns out HE’S actually The Package because Dolph needs him for something.

  6. Ah, crap, that spoiler show up on the recent commentary…

  7. Hey guys, am I just slow or was it not common knowledge that Dolph was in a Spanish movie a few years back as the German barbarian bodyguard of the Roman tribune sent to investigate the death of an obscure rabbi by the name of Jesus Christ?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0491720/

  8. I did not know until now. need to check that out.

  9. I think I can safely say I can get behind a possible project called “The Bible according to Dolph” with Dolph as Moses.

  10. We need to go deeper. Dolph as everyone. Dolph as Noah, hauling animals onto the boat two-by-two on his mighty shoulders, only to have the unicorns wrenched from his grasp by the floodwaters at the last second. Dolph as Jonah, punching his way out of the belly of the whale. Dolph as David and Goliath, taking his own eye out with a slingshot the size of a parachute. Dolph as Jesus, ripping the cross apart with a single flex of his muscles and using the still-nailed-to-his-hands beams to bludgeon a whole squadron of Roman soldiers (also Dolph, cloned Agent Smith style) before finally succumbing to a giant spear to the side, only to rise again and seek vengeance with the lasers that now inexplicably shoot from his stigmata. And finally, Dolph as God, welcoming himself as Jesus home to heaven, which looks a lot like Sweden.

  11. There are some embarrassing Noah parts of the Bible which perhaps is best left out of the script. I´m talking about when Noah gets wasted by drinking too much wine and is found lying on the ground naked. But on the other hand, maybe the ladies would like to see Dolphs package so perhaps that scene should stay in to bring in a wider audience.

  12. Wait, so THAT’S what the package is?

  13. Mr Majestyk – Dolphs participation in this project is vital since I think making heaven looking like Sweden is a great move. It could be quite symbolic, since Sweden is probably the most secularized country in the world and a place were religion has no real impact on governmat rule at all. So in heaven religion itself is useless.

    I don´t know, help me out here.

  14. I spent a single night in a hotel in Stockholm in 1990. I wouldn’t call it heaven, but I had a lot of Weird Al tapes to listen to and Bloom County collections to read, so I guess it was pretty close.

  15. I was more interested in how we could re-boot or re-invent the Bible with Norse mythology using Dolph as a vessel than hearing your biographical exploits in Douchebag-Capital Stockholm, but it will do I guess.

  16. Is Stockholm full of douchebags? I was 13 at the time and on a stopover on my way home from a school trip to the Soviet Union (Yes, I am that old. I have been behind the Iron Curtain.) so I didn’t get to see the city or meet any people at all. Is Stockholm where the Swedish hipsters hang out? The Austin of Scandinavia?

    As for turning the Bible into Norse mythology, it’s not that far off as is.

    Whale = Kraken
    Goliath = Troll
    Crucifixion = Odin on tree

    I say we give Dolph a call. All you swedes have each other’s number, right?

  17. Don´t remind me of the goddamn Iron Curtain. Took fuckin forever to get across each country if you wanted to see the richness of the Baltic countries. The wait at each border control was murderous. At least that was how I experienced it.

    You got me on the part of turning the non-sensical Bible into another non-sensical norse bullshit. i may not be as mad as I thought afterall and I will abandon all claim. We are all just as mad after all.

  18. Bible is kinda fuckedup. Need change. Nordic windy long hair, Beardy shit needed. Also strange mischief in shape of weird nordic figure struggling in the shadows. The shadows are a bit unclear. More focus on sharp shadows.
    Shadows hit like shit hit fan. Smell unbearable. Shadow can hit because of smell. Smell kills everyone. Shadow rules. What else is new.

  19. The last few weeks we have also learned this; the biggest, baddest warrior out there is Tormund Giantsbane in GAME OF THRONES season 3, and he’s played by…wait for it…a Norwegian! Kristoffer Hivju makes Dolph look like a school boy in comparison. From now on of you want nordic windy hair and beardy shit, there’s a new guy in town!

  20. I need to check this one out. Also, for fans of Steve Austin he has a podcast now that is him unfiltered talking to wrestlers and MMA fighters in a long form interview about various topics. It is really great and any Stone Cold fans out there should check it out. He talks about his movies a lot and even defends the DTV genre. I hope he has Dolph on his show at some point that would be awesome.

  21. Here is a quote from Steven Austin about his DTV film career from episode #1 of The Steve Austin Show podcast.

    “People always ask me why do I do direct to video movies? I am making the same movies John Wayne and George Clooney made, and Brad Pitt. Mine just don’t go to the theater they go straight to the god damn Wal-Mart, so you can go buy the son of a bitch. So I am saving you a good piece of action. You aint got to go spend 15 dollars on a ticket, 4 dollars on a box of popcorn, 6 dollars on a Coke to sit your ass in a theater. You can watch my shit in the comfort of your own home, and it don’t get no better than that does it!”

  22. Speaking of Austin’s podcast, I have to say I’ve been enjoying his show so far. His interviews (Shawn Michaels and just started a series with Kevin Nash), he doesn’t self-promote himself or dominate the conversation with bullshit. He lets the subjects go off, and he tries to get them to talk about topics that aren’t talked about alot compared to most pro wrestling interviews these guys have done elsewhere. (I have to say I didn’t know Nash served in NATO for a tour.)

    http://www.podcastone.com/program?action=viewProgram&programID=436

  23. Yeah, Nash is an interesting dude. I think he also played high school basketball with Magic Johnson.

  24. Derek Kolstad is also the writer of “John Wick”, which leaves me with 2 theories/wishes/beliefs, etc… 1. Austin’s character in here is listed as Tommy Wick. If we get a “John Wick: Chapter 3”, how cool would it be to see Austin pop up in as John’s brother?? And 2. Being that he wrote 2 movies with Dolph Lundgren in them as a bad guy, I’m wondering if the character Viggo in “John Wick” was written with Dolph in mind…

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