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The 2nd Review

September 16, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Ryan Philippe The 2nd
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The 2nd Review  

The 2nd Review

Ryan Phillippe– Vic Davis
Casper Van Dien– Driver
Jack Griffo– Sean Davis
Lexi Simonsen– Erin Walton
William Katt– Senator Bob Jeffers
Richard Burgi– Director Phillips
Samaire Armstrong– Olivia Davis
Randy Charach– Justice Walton

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Brian Skiba
Screenplay by Eric Bromberg and Paul Taegel

Distributed by Momentum Pictures

Not Rated
Runtime– 93 minutes
Official Facebook page

Watch it here


The 2nd, directed by Brian Skiba, is a new badass low budget action flick starring Ryan Phillipe and Casper Van Dien that is now available on digital and Video On Demand. Chock full of gun battles, hand-to-hand combat sequences, and real explosions, it’s exactly the kind of action flick that action flick fans love. Well, for the most part. The 2nd also has a quasi-political component to its plot that really isn’t as clear as it should be/really needs to be. That political component, though, doesn’t kill the movie. In fact, I’d suspect that most viewers, when the movie is over, won’t remember what the political component is even about. Instead, viewers will remember how director Skiba and crew made a real deal action flick.

Phillippe stars as Vic Davis, former Special Forces Operator turned Secret Service agent who just wants to go on bonding trip out to the woods with his son Sean (Jack Griffo). In order to do this, Davis will have to pick Sean up at college. The college is shutting down for renovations and just about all of the students will be heading out. When Davis arrives at the school to pick up Sean, he notices Sean hanging out with a young woman named Erin (Lexi Simonsen). Davis also notices several men he suspects are up to no good (call it “Special Forces intuition”) milling about. After engaging in some quick investigative work, Davis determines that the men really are up to no good, and violence commences.

So who are these guys Davis notices? Basically, they’re mercenaries hired to kidnap Erin and hold her for ransom. Erin’s father (Randy Charach) is a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and the mercenaries work for a consortium that wants the justice to vote their way on an upcoming big hooha decision concerning guns (that’s where the movie’s title The 2nd comes from). The mercenaries are led by a man named Driver (Casper Van Dien), a ruthless rat bastard that will do whatever it takes to fulfill his mission, including killing anyone (and I mean anyone) that gets in his and his team’s way.

Once David figures out what’s going on and decides to engage, it’s a sort of cat and mouse game as Davis, with Sean and Erin in tow, try to avoid Driver’s team. And Driver’s team is everywhere. Driver has also knocked out the area’s cell phones and other communications, so there is no way for Davis to call for backup. If Davis is going to get his son and Erin off the campus alive, he’s going to have to take out Driver’s team himself.

And so that’s what Davis does. One by one, he goes through Driver’s team. Sean attempts to help and succeeds a little bit, but it’s mostly up to Davis. And why shouldn’t it be? He has the skills, the talent, and the honor necessary to get the job done. Can he, though?

From the second the action starts in The 2nd you know you’re in for a different kind of modern action movie. From its look to its pacing to the real explosions spread throughout, The 2nd is an amazing action movie experience. You don’t expect to see a real explosions in movies anymore, especially low budget indie action flicks. It’s so much easier and cheaper to do a CGI explosion but that CGI explosion rarely ever looks right or is as good as the real thing. It’s thrilling to see a commitment to the real thing. The various gunfights are also appropriately loud and nothing sounds small or wimpy.

And then there are the fights. The 2nd features some of the nastiest hand-to-hand brawls in recent memory. There’s nothing particularly fancy on display from the participants; punches and kicks and chops and whatnot all look lethal and dangerous, which is what you want to see in this kind of movie. Phillippe, who is a real deal martial artist (I believe he has a black belt in taekwondo), shows that he knows how to throw down and always looks authentic when beating the crap out of one of Driver’s henchmen. Casper Van Dien also kicks major ass. I don’t believe he’s a martial artist in real life, but he’s such an old pro in the action movie world he makes what he does look good and believable. The eventual one-on-one fight between Davis and Driver is a brutal affair.

Casper Van Dien’s Driver isn’t the only character in The 2nd with a nasty streak. Richard Burgi, an actor who knows how to exude sleaze, plays Director Phillips, a government official who is in league with the consortium that wants Justice Walton to vote their way. As soon as Burgi’s Phillips reveals himself to be a rat bastard thug and terrorist you seethe with hatred for him, and Burgi plays Phillips like the kind of guy who would get off on that hatred if he knew about it. You wish there was a scene in the movie where someone, be it Davis or anyone else, would rip out Phillips’s throat in one deft move, or he would eat a grenade or something. I wish Burgi did more of these kinds of movies playing this exact same type of character. As I said, he knows how to be a sleazy piece of crap, but Burgi really ratchets up the awful here. The question isn’t so much will he survive the end of the movie, but how bad is he going to end up?

Jack Griffo does an admirable job as Sean Davis. He plays Sean as a guy who has his spot in the hip and edgy cool sort of jock asshole world on campus (he’s on the fencing team) and his spot in the somewhat sensitive nerd world, so he isn’t all that annoying. When Sean attempts to help his father take on Driver’s henchmen and protect Erin you know it isn’t a good idea and will probably end badly, but at the same time you can kind of root for him. You know that Sean might be able to handle himself if and when the time comes. And you know that Erin will likely find a way to deal with Driver’s henchmen if she has to come in contact with one of them. Erin is a fencer, too, and Lexi Simonsen makes Erin a resourceful young woman. Does she need help? Yes, because she’s totally outnumbered and still a kid. But she isn’t a shrinking violet. She can contribute and handle herself when the time comes (and, yes, the time does come. Erin isn’t a fencer simply because director Skiba thought that it would be cool for her to be a fencer. She’s going to get a chance to show off her skills eventually).


Phillippe is terrific as Davis. Again, he’s a real deal martial artist and it shows in how he carries himself throughout the movie. You get a real sense from the very beginning that Davis is not a guy you want to challenge because he will destroy you if he has to. Phillippe also looks credible in the various gun battle sequences Davis is involved in (three seasons of Shooter clearly helped with that). And Van Dien, and I can’t stress this enough, is such a rat bastard as Driver. From his intimidating deep voice to his “I will kill anyone in my way” attitude to that goddamn cane he carries around with him (he does manage to use it in several sequences), he’s more than a formidable villain for Davis to do battle with. And, yes, they do battle.


The great William Katt is also in The 2nd, in the movie’s opening action sequence as a government official that Davis has to protect. Katt is, as usual, great, but, my God, I didn’t recognize him at all. I saw his name in the credits and was on the lookout for him but didn’t realize he was in the movie at the very beginning. So, again, be on the lookout for the Greatest American Hero (or Roger Cobb or Tommy Ross, depending on where you find yourself in the William Katt fandom continuum).

Now, the movie’s political content, as I mentioned at the beginning, is a bit muddled. I’m not entirely sure the movie actually has a point of view one way or the other. At first, it seems to be making a statement one way, but towards the end of the movie it doesn’t seem to be making that statement at all. So why keep it in the movie at all? Why does the big Supreme Court decision at the heart of the plot have to be about guns, one way or the other? Why can’t it be something else? Why does the gun issue, in this movie, matter? I’m not sure. But, again, odds are good that most viewers won’t be bothered by whatever point, if any, the movie is trying to make. The important thing about the movie is the action and the way Phillipe and Van Dien carry themselves. That is what you will remember.

The 2nd is awesome. I can’t stress that enough. It’s exactly the kind of movie old school action movie nerds love and wish more moviemakers made more of. Great performances, terrific action sequences, and real explosions. The 2nd is a must see movie.

See The 2nd. See it, see it, see it.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Around 20.

Explosions: Lots, both big and small.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: Multiple satellites in space, political bullshit, talk of domestic threats in America, a guy making a bomb, personal talk, car assault, a shootout, RPG attack, exploding car, a guy with a bomb vest, wire pulling, exploding terrorist, a hard rocking opening theme, phone breaking, fencing hooey, a traffic jam, bro talk, use and non-use of a silencer, phone tap hooey, cell phone jamming, shutting down the power, elevator hooey, a serious beating, pool playing, plastic cuff hooey, sniper hooey, a nasty wrist wound, attempted pay phone use, barbell to the face, strangulation with a weight lifting machine, loose weight to the side of the head, curling iron to the face, garbage bag over the face, knife to the neck, 2 x 4 to the side of the fucking head, a man is beaten to death with a cane, elevator bomb, hostage video hooey, a scary looking “man jumps on top of a moving van” stunt, exploding pick-up truck, sliding motorcycle accident, exploding car, a man on fire gag, watch removal, attempted boat accident, a sword fight, pallet throwing, attempted sleeper hold, knife to the back of the neck, exploding machinery, a giant fireball, a guy gets blown out of a building, an unexpected twist, a story about a Rolex watch, talk of taking a life, and the prospect of a sequel.

Kim Richards?: No. Although you could probably make an argument for yes. I wouldn’t but you could if you wanted to.

Gratuitous: A public protest, William Katt, Ryan Phillippe, guy talk, coin flipping, old footage of kids playing with toy guns followed by the aftermath of school shootings, fencing class, Casper Van Dien, hatred of elevators, mention of Neil Simon, a father questioning his son’s interest in theater, Richard Burgi, the 12 ball almost in the side pocket, Richard Burgi telling an old story about utopia or some bullshit, a quarter exchange, an “elevator going down” point of view shot from above, Ryan Phillippe climbing up a giant banner, bag over the face, slow motion jumping away from an explosion, Casper Van Dien pouring booze on his arm wound, Ryan Phillippe holding up a sign that says “I’m here to help” that he wrote in his own blood on a sheet of paper, Casper Van Dien babbling about duty and honor, the Ritz Carlton, “3 people can keep a secret as long as 2 of them are dead,” Ryan Phillippe talking about getting a watch from Bill Clinton, and the prospect of a sequel.

Best lines: “You a cheap motherfucker, you know that?,” “Package is secure,” “Next time I want a nice car!,” “They’re tracing your call!,” “You really are my better half. Better two thirds,” “So how many Russians do you find in South Africa?,” “Well, I don’t get to choose when the Secret Service decides to pick me up,” “Watch it, dickhead!,” “Who the hell are you? The Driver,” “Okay, everyone, stay loose until this guy is gone,” “We have the asset,” “Chill? Just chill? Chill? Who taught him that word?,” “I see subterfuge is pointless. Put the asshole on the phone,” “You should have had your package and been out in two. Fucking amateurs,” “This kid thinks he’s smart. Smarter than you!,” “This is why! You don’t interfere!,” “Don’t fuck with me, Kev. I didn’t get to be director of the CIA without making sacrifices,” “You’re gonna be spending the rest of your life wishing you hadn’t fucked with us!,” “I’m really tired of chasing you around,” “I’m thinking about retiring,” “Sean! There’s a sniper!,” “It looks like your insurance policy is about to pay off,” “En garde, bitch!,” “Director Phillips, you have three seconds to put the gun down,” and “History won’t be kind to you, Mike. And that would be… unfortunate.”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
The 2nd is a terrific new action flick from director Brian Skiba and starring Ryan Phillippe and Casper Van Dien. Chock full of kick ass action sequences, brutal hand-to-hand brawls, and real explosions, it’s exactly the kind of movie action move nerds love. Some of the plotting is a bit muddled and I’m not entirely sure if the movie is actually making a political statement or not, but none of that really matters. The 2nd is all about Phillippe as the hero, Van Dien as the dastardly villain (Richard Burgi, too), and the top notch cinematic violence that ensues. The 2nd is great, and I encourage every action movie nerd in the world to check it out. You will not be disappointed. See The 2nd. See it, see it, see it. The 2nd is now available on digital and Video On Demand.

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The 2nd, Bryan Kristopowitz