Dead Trigger (Blu-ray)
It's Drago versus the undead as Dolph Lundgren stars in Dead Trigger! Here's our review of the Blu-ray!
Captain Kyle Walker (Dolph Lundgren) assembles a team of inexperienced soldiers on a rescue mission to Terminal City, which is overrun with hordes of the undead. Also stars Isaiah Washington, Autumn Reeser and Romeo Miller. Directed by Mike Cuff and Scott Windhauser.
Dead Trigger is Dolph Lundgren’s foray into the zombie genre, and it’s a somewhat entertaining but incredibly uneven action film. The Expendables star manages to keep things interesting, and the movie has its moments. Amateurish direction and an underwhelming script, however, weigh down what should have been a solid indie zombie flick.
Based on the smartphone video game of the same name, Dead Trigger has an interesting premise. In a world where the undead are taking over, Captain Kyle Walker (Lundgren) assembles the top players of a government-created zombie-killing video game. The game was a means to find the best candidates to join an actual zombie-killing squad and turn the tide of the fight. It’s a plot device lifted from The Last Starfighter, but it isn’t pulled off with nearly the irony, wit, or charm as the 80s cult classic.
To its credit, Dead Trigger assembles a talented cast, even if they are criminally underused. Lundgren has his usual stoic charm, and he’s joined by Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), who would have made for an interesting cinematic duo, but he’s not in the movie for very long.
A lackluster script doesn’t build the narrative well enough to allow for much character development. As a result, Lundgren and his co-stars (which include some talented actors) spend most of their time shooting guns in poorly-staged action scenes. You’ll wonder how so many good actors agreed to deliver some of these lines. They could have ad-libbed a more logical plot.
The members of the “Dead Trigger” team (as they are called) give off a definite vibe that will remind you of flicks like The Dirty Dozen or Predator, as each actor does his or her best to inject some individuality into their characters. Outside of one or two scenes, however, the actors don't get many chances to build cast chemistry. There’s some fun banter at times, though, and an attempt to capture the feel of 80s action flicks.
The team is sent on a mission to save a scientist (Autumn Reesner) in the zombie-infested “Terminal City,” and who might hold a cure for the zombie outbreak. While on their mission, the team encounters plenty of the undead, a few human survivors, and even a pair of female zombie killers dressed like castoffs from Mel Gibson’s The Road Warrior.
Reeser, who was so good on shows like “The O.C.,” “No Ordinary Family,” and “The Arrangement,” has a pivotal role, but isn’t given much to do besides fire a gun and explain things. Luciana Carro, who was fantastic in genre shows “Battlestar Galactica” and “Falling Skies,” plays a kickboxer-turned-soldier, but she gets very little screen time. Only Oleg Taktarov (Predators) gets something to work with here, and he’s effective at adding an interesting twist to the story.
Oh, and Lil’ Romeo (who now goes by Romeo Miller) is in it. Just not for long.
Even though it’s a low-budget movie with an underwhelming script, Lundgren manages to keep Dead Trigger somewhat watchable. He and Taktarov have enough charisma to make it work, even if the rest of the film doesn’t do the zombie genre justice.
The zombies, for some reason, are treated almost as an afterthought by the filmmakers. Some of the zombie makeup used in closeups is pretty good, but as one might expect in a low-budget film, the makeup team cuts corners with large groups of the undead. So don’t look too closely.
One of the film’s best zombies, dubbed Patient Zero, looks fantastic. At first, you’ll think he will be the movie’s big menace, chasing the heroes around Terminal City. Alas, he’s only on the screen for a few minutes. It’s a total waste of a potentially great villain, and an indicator that the filmmakers are not up to the task.
It should be noted that the original director left the project over creative differences, and the game developer of Dead Trigger withdrew their support of the film. After seeing the finished film, you’ll understand why.
Dead Trigger picks up in the second half, as the team races out of Terminal City with the undead on their heels. The ending, however, is lackluster and doesn’t pay off like a good action or horror movie should. There was the potential for a decent film here, but the filmmakers (I can’t fault just the director or the writer here) squandered the opportunity.
Even at 61, Lundgren remains an imposing cinematic presence, and he’s the only reason why you should even consider watching Dead Trigger. If you’re a fan of the game, don’t expect a particularly faithful adaptation. It is somewhat serviceable, and yet also completely forgettable as an action/horror flick. Zombie movie fans will be highly disappointed.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The high-definition video transfer for Dead Trigger isn’t bad - the film was shot digitally, and the Blu-ray shows decent detail. However, many of the night scenes are too dark, while some daylight scenes look soft. That seems to be the fault of the filmmakers and some bad cinematography, and not the transfer itself. Haphazard editing and bad CGI is actually highlighted by the high-definition transfer.
The sound mix is a 5.1 DTS-HDMA track, and it’s rather bland for a film filled with gunfire. There isn’t much in the way of surround effects, but clarity is good, so you can hear every terrible line the actors deliver.
The bonus features section is as disappointing as the film itself. Much like the plot, special features are non-existent. All we get are trailers for other movies, none of which are for Dead Trigger itself.
Special features include:
Trailers. Previews for Black Water (with Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren), Day of the Dead: Bloodline, Occupation, and All the Devil’s Men.
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, compatible with services like VUDU and FandangoNow, is included. Lionsgate codes are not compatible with Movies Anywhere.
Release Date: July 2, 2019
Rating: R (bloody, graphic violence)
Running Time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish
Special Features: Trailers, Digital Copy