It seems like there is a Scott Adkins movie released every week or so. To me he seems like one of the busiest leading men in movies today churning out up to five movies a year with him in a leading role. 2021 has been less productive, probably due to the pandemic, with only two movies having been released starring Adkins. Castle Falls being one of them.
In Castle Falls Adkins plays Mike Wade. An MMA-fighter past his prime and who doesn’t have a penny to his name. He finds a job in demolition. Castle Falls hospital is set to be leveled to the ground within a few days until then it’s up to a group of construction workers to strip the building of valuable materials like copper wiring. On the last day, mere hours before the destruction with explosions Mike stumbles upon a couple of hidden bags filled with money. He concocts a fairly easy plan: go back to the construction site after the shift is over, get the bags and return home with 3 million dollars before the building is destroyed.
But things never go as they are planned.
Two other parties show up at the demolition site as well. One is Richard Ericson (Dolph Lundgren, serving double duties as the director) who has a daughter with blood cancer and has come to find and retrieve the money as well. This way he can pay for an experimental treatment that isn’t covered by her insurance policy. He works at a correctional facility and struck a deal with an inmate who stole this money from a drug dealer and stashed it there. But the drug dealer is aware of this deal and has Ericson followed around by a group of ruthless mercenaries who enter the abandoned hospital as well.
Castle Falls reminds me of movies like Die Hard and The Raid. The action takes place in a confined space, an empty hospital in this case. It has plenty of scenes of people chasing each other through hallways and stair cases. While the bad guys are heavily armed, the explosives prevent simple shootouts. So we’re treated to a lot of old fashioned hand to hand combat. While strangers to each other, Mike and Richard both serve as protagonists. They have to form an uneasy alliance against the people with the guns.
If Castle Falls was made in the 90s or early 00s it would have been a great action movie. All the ingredients are here: skilled martial artists, a coherent plot, a location with many possibilities for creative set pieces, et cetera. The one thing it’s missing is a substantial budget. This is a 10 million dollar movie made on a less than 2 million dollar budget. Movies like this have 14 – 21 shooting days tops and lack the funds to take the time to carefully choreograph extensive fight scenes or to do an extra take.
This is mostly evident during the fight scenes. Adkins has shown than he is capable of delivering thrilling action scenes full of high kicks and other acrobatics. But in Castle Falls he doesn’t get to show off his capabilities that much as most of the fights result in two guys basically wrestling each other until one of them ends up in a choke hold. At age 64 Lundgren isn’t the spring chicken he once was. He doesn’t act like he is one, but there are plenty of scenes that could have used the notorious Taken 3 quick cut approach to mask this. I was afraid he was going to break his hip when I saw him running down the stairs.
Castle Falls does take its time to get going. It takes up to 45 minutes to get all three parties in the hospital and the action starts. With a mere running time of 90 minutes, including five minutes of end credits, the movie has more build-up than a pay-off. They should have shaved off about 15 minutes of the set-up and add another action scene or two. But I’m pretty sure the budget wouldn’t allow for this.
To me the most interesting character in the movie is actually the stripped and abandoned hospital. I have a fondness for these structures. I occasionally look at videos of abandoned malls and amusement parks on YouTube. They take me back to times when I have explored structures that were being demolished. Walking around large corridors with broken windows, stripped wiring and all kinds of elements reminiscent of a time this place was still in use.
As a DTV action movie, Castle Falls is another entertaining addition to both Lundgren and Adkins’s library. For me it was a fun 90 minutes watching this movie though I don’t see how the average viewer will hold a movie as this in a high regard. This one is mostly for the action aficionados who dig this stuff.