Director: Simon Fellows | 113 minutes | action, drama, thriller | Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Selina Giles, Mark Dymond, William Ash, Stephen Lord, Gary Beadle, C. Gerod Harris, Wes Robinson, Stephen Rea, Alana Maria, Fiona O’Shaughnessy, Adam Leese, Rachel Grant, Maggie Eldred
Contrary to what you would expect from a film with ‘Muscles from Brussels’ Jean-Claude Van Damme (‘Time Cop’), ‘Until Death’ is not a martial arts film. No spectacular battle scenes, but still a lot of action. This time, Van Damme plays a role he has never taken on before, namely that of a corrupt police officer; Anthony Stowe. While he doesn’t seem to fit this role at first, he nonetheless fulfills it in a fairly compelling way. This is mainly due to the anything but civilized manners of his character, which he clearly knows how to master. You can see that he empathizes with his role and that is why he knows how to convince you of his acting skills.
The trailer for ‘Until Death’ gives a pretty good idea of what to expect from the film. The storyline comes out clearly and is partly supported by intriguing music. The dark and sinister atmosphere that this film conveys is also well reflected in the trailer, partly due to this sound and the spoken lyrics. Although the many fans of Van Damme might have wanted to see a little more action, the depth in the characters ensures that the story becomes more realistic and the viewer can empathize with the characters. Especially Stephen Rea, who had an international breakthrough after his nomination for an Academy Award for his role in ‘The Crying Game’ (1992), puts in a good acting performance. He plays Callahan, criminal and ex-partner of Stowe, in a very convincing way. The camera work is also good and ensures that the action scenes are clear and shocking. Furthermore, the flashbacks of Callahan’s actions are strong and add a little more drama to the film.
Yet there are also downsides to be noted. The film is quite slow and long-winded at times. Although it is precisely at those moments that a little more attention could have been paid to deepening the emotions of the characters, this is not done. That could have made the film stronger and more realistic. Now ‘Until Death’ lingers too much in the action genre with vague interruptions in the meantime that could have been a bit more dramatic. Furthermore, there is another carelessness: a bump that has been applied to Anthony’s forehead suddenly finds itself on the other side of his face in a scene near the toilets .. ‘Until Death’ is a great film for a relaxing evening on the couch with the mind and mind at zero. The storyline is not difficult to follow, as a viewer you are immediately in it. In any case, Jean-Claude will be able to entertain his viewers. Three stars for this reasonable B-movie.