Dolph Lundgren movies don’t often offer many surprises. When you plug one in (you don’t find them in theatres anymore), you know you’re going to get some kicking, some handguns, one-dimensional bad guys and at least one classic one-liner. Command Performance has them all, plus a plot straight out of the U.S.S.R. And it’s still an exercise in tedium and yearning for the good, old days where straight-up action films were respected by the masses.
Command Performance actually offers a trinity of Lundgren. Not only does his perma-frown star, he also wrote the script and directed. The story has Lundgren playing Joe, a rock n’ roll drummer who finds himself in the middle of a hostage situation involving the Russian President and his two daughters. While performing in a show with American pop star Venus (Melissa Smith of The Pussycat Dolls), the concert is cut short by a group of militant rebels still feeling bitter about the breakup of the U.S.S.R. The arena is held under siege and Joe channels his inner John McLane to single-handedly save the President, the day and the girl.
Honestly, I thought Lundgren had retired. I guess those rumors were exaggerated as a quick scan of the Internet Movie Database shows he has made at least one film a year in eight of the last ten. So either I misheard something, the former He-Man was looking for a little publicity or he’s the Brett Favre of direct-to-video movies. Command Performance showcases classic Lundgren and in his case, this means derivative action film without much soul. Rocky IV and Universal Soldier are the exceptions on his cinematic resume.
The benchmark in mindless action films isn’t very high. However, even if you put Command Performance up against them, the film is still lame. Okay, 92 minutes out of a possible 93 in the running time are lame. I did find Joe’s use of the electric guitar against his enemies to be both clever and hilarious, even if the moment was totally over the top and delivered straight.
I think the biggest problem here is that Lundgren himself has bought into the Lundgren brand. He spends the film standing around, wincing, shooting guns and kicking. Yet he does it with the emotion of a cyborg. But this isn’t anything different from all his other films that I’ve seen. Occasionally it works with the film and its context but you’d think that in playing one of the best drummers in the world like he is here that he’d show at least a small amount of personality. Nope. Instead you get a truly robotic delivery of such lines as, “We don’t practice. We just play.” There’s no risks, nothing new, just the same actor doing exactly what he’s been known for more than two decades.
Command Performance is a tedious affair, no matter what scale you put it on. Put it with all films and it doesn’t hold anything other than sensory candy. But even that gets tiresome by about the 17-minute mark. Compared with similar mindless action films, Command Performance doesn’t demand an encore or even a full playlist as the pre-opening act before a small-town concert.
Command Performance Blu-ray Review
The Command Performance Blu-ray release has the film shown in widescreen 1080p high definition. It’s like having Dolph Lundgren kicking butt in your living room. Audio is only in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround so his stoic line delivery is only in the metaphorical room next door. There’s also English and Spanish subtitles if you want everyone to shut up.
Command Performance Gallery