• Chain of Command

    Released by Lionsgate
    Released on: September 22, 2015
    Directed by: Kevin Carraway
    Cast: Michael Jai White, Steve Austin, Max Ryan
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie:

    Few noticed when Walter Webster was called away from his brother, James Webster’s (Michael Jai White) homecoming party. However, when he mysteriously turned up dead James wanted answers. It turns out Walter was mixed up with some shady business regarding drugs and $40 million in stolen cash. To get revenger, James decided to track down the man responsible for Walter’s transgressions, friend and former superior officer Lt. Ross (Max Ryan). The only problem, a 6’ 4” killing machine named Ray Peters (Steve Austin).

    Being a longtime wrestling fan I was eager to see Chain of Command. I have excitedly watched a lot of ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin’s direct-to-video action films over the years, films with titles like Recoil, Tactical Force, and The Package. Each time I think I will be in for a treat and each time I am let down. How can someone show incredible charisma and star presence in a wrestling ring yet be so boring in a film? I suppose one reason is the films he appears in rarely play up to his in-ring persona and strengths. Sure, he always plays a character who is tough, but his blue collar, redneck, and somewhat humorous personality is always toned down. This is definitely the case in Chain of Command where Austin is a high-priced mercenary and a man of few words. One of Austin’s greatest strengths in his wrestling career was his promo ability, why take that away from him in a film? I feel Chain of Command also takes away Michael Jai White’s strengths. I was looking forward to some major fisticuffs between White and Austin, this never really happened. There was not a single Stone Cold Stunner in sight and very little martial arts action, instead the film was full of dull gun battles with CGI blood.

    Chain of Command gets almost everything wrong. The biggest problem with the film was co-writer/director Kevin Carraway. His work as a director is pedestrian at best, amateur at worst. It felt like Carraway was a total novice behind the camera but it turns out he has quite a few directing credits. Not only does he not have an eye for stylish composition, his blocking of the actors was downright embarrassing. I could not believe how many shots featured a single-file row of actors standing shoulder-to-shoulder. I felt like I was watching an episode of a TV sitcom from the 1950s with its bland, uncreative blocking and lack of camera movement. The bad direction and camera work was doubly noticeable during the few fight scenes. The camera was way too tight on the action making much of what was happening undecipherable. An additional problem with Chain of Command was the film’s budget. Normally, I am not bother by low budget films but here it was noticeable and distracting. Here is a film in which $40 million dollars was stolen and between clothes, cars, and houses it does not appear the characters have a combined $4,000. I just could not believe we were dealing with big time drug dealers and highly trained mercenaries.

    One area where I do have to give Carraway and the film credit is in the plotting. While Chain of Command is not original in any way I was pleasantly surprised that the plot was so simple and logical. While it is true the basic story of the film is silly and unrealistic, everything played out in a manner that made rational sense. There were no twists and turns that were done with the intent to keep the viewer on their feet. Chain of Command is a simple, dumb movie so it was nice to see everything stay simple and dumb. I also got a kick out of the film’s locations. Being a native Cincinnatian I immediately noticed the film’s setting. From the film’s first shot I thought to myself, this is the Cincinnati area. For some reason, I got a thrill from knowing that Steve Austin was stalking Michael Jai White around the Queen City.


    Lionsgate is who we need to blame for unleashing this film upon the public. That said, their Blu-ray presentation of Chain of Command is fine. The image is 1.78:1 and looks okay. The lighting is flat and the compositions a total bore, so do not expect anything revelatory. The sound is 5.1 DTS-HD and it is workable. The dialogue is mixed well, but the gunfire is kind of puny and weak. I should mention the score, it is totally generic. It sounded like a guy playing with his CASIO. I was happy to see the name Herman Beeftink. He was credited to some of the music. Beeftink is of course the man behind the music of the Erotic Confessions series of the mid-90s. The disc included English and Spanish subtitles and English SDH.

    The disc had no extras.

    The Final Word:

    Chain of Command was pretty lame. If you want some Stone Cold action watch an old episode of RAW. There really is not much to say in the way of positives for the film and I would think anyone watching it would be let down. There are good direct-to-video action films out there but this is not one of them.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screencaps!