Second In Command is in my book one of Jean-Claude van Damme’s more forgettable movies. It came out in 2006 when he was deep into the DTV-segment of his career starring in cheap movies made in Eastern European countries like Romania; the same region one Steven Seagal was making 2-3 movies a year during the 00’s. This movie takes places in Moldavia, or rather a movie-set of a street and some buildings trying to represent Moldavia and Jean-Claude van Damme is a decorated Navy Commander named Sam Keenan. On his first day on the job as the new Security Attache local insurgents attempt a coup d’etat and the newly elected president takes refuge in the embassy which then becomes a target… and a sitting duck.
If I would to describe Second In Command in one word it would be “generic”, since verything about this movie is just that. Even though there are some nice pyrotechnics used during the finale and they managed to get their hands on some helicopters and tanks the whole movie has a very low-budget feel to it. Almost all of the outside scenes are obviously staged on a sound set. The whole movie has been dipped in a yellow color filter trying to simulate a hot sunny day. This makes the movie look as if it’s taking place in an Arabic country, rather than a Eastern European country. This surprises me the most as Moldavia lies next to Romania, a country where a lot of these action movies are filmed. Why the color filter then? Probably because it was filmed on a sound stage which was already available. This is probably also the reason why the set used in the movie looks absolutely nothing like an actual Moldavian street. Not that I’ve been there, but when I type in Moldavia on Google images nothing of the search results even remotely resembles what was on display in Second In Command. Even the maps that are shown on multiple occasions don’t point out Moldavia correctly on it.
How hard can it be to get some basic geography straight people?
The plot could hardly be described as original; the concept of people stuck in a facility under siege is one which already was done decades ago, and better by the way. The low budget only allows for one familiar actor apparently; the movie’s star Jean-Claude van Damme, but even he seems wasted in this flick. I counted two hand-to-hand combat scenes featuring the Muscles From Brussels which is very low from a man who made his name doing those. He’s aided by a large cast of unknowns including a love-interest in the form of a reporter he already was seeing. Her only function is to be in danger from time to time so there’s something at stake for Keenan.
There was one scene I could not describe as generic. At one point Keenan finds himself outside on the streets in a one-to-one combat with a nameless bad guy. The fight is actually pretty brutal and not only has Keenan kicking him in the nuts fiercely, he also gouges out his eyeballs. Pretty brutal stuff in a movie that consists largely of gun fights and the occasional rocket being launched.
I don’t care much for Second In Command. It’s a passable movie, but it feels so uninspired and I can’t get over the fact that it’s so clearly shot on a sound stage looking like a completely different continent than it’s supposed to take place on. It’s a by the numbers action movie which wastes the talents of the only reason people would actually decide to watch this.