The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Atomic Eden (2015)

After seeing how great Mike Möller was in Ultimate Justice, I was excited to see what else he had for us, and found this on Tubi. Throw in The Hammer, who I'm always saying I need to do more of on the site; and then Lamas tacked on in some way, and this seemed like a no-brainer. As we know though, it's often the no-brainers that turn into the not-so-good ones. In addition to us, our friends at Bulletproof Action have looked at this as well, so you can see what they thought as well.

Atomic Eden has Williamson a private military contractor who's been hired for a big job retrieving an item in Chernobyl, so he needs to round up his old crew and go in there to make it happen. As is often the case though, things aren't what they seem, as a bunch of men in white hazmat suits and gas masks descend on them, and now they need to do everything they can to fight their way out. Will they make it out alive? And exactly what is this device that they're risking their lives to retrieve? Is it worth all this trouble? And how does Lorenzo Lamas figure into all this?

Man, that's a great question, right? Is it worth it? I can ask the same thing about this movie. I mentioned that I was watching it to Ty from Comeuppance, and he asked, based off the name "is it a space slog?" I responded "no, it's a one location slog." I think that unfortunately sums it up. There were some pacing issues, especially with this device where the film starts at the 20-minute mark where they get ambushed in Chernobyl, and then goes back to Williamson rounding up his crew. That was clunky and caused me to lose interest a bit. Then we have the crew interacting with each other, which was also clunky. Then the action starts, and it's mostly the crew getting picked off like the cast of a horror movie. I don't know, I like that device in a horror movie, but action movies are not meant to be "Last Girl"-type constructs. Beyond all that though, We got a good amount of Williamson, and he was great in that good amount of him; I like Möller's fight scenes, which were fantastic again--and well-choreographed by him; and I liked his pairing with Hazuki Kato. To some extent, the movie might have been better if it were just those three kicking ass and taking names, rather then adding in a bunch of characters who are just there to be developed then killed off.

This is the space reserved for our requisite "we had planned on doing more Williamson on the site, and we've been woefully derelict in fulfilling that promise" paragraph, but when I looked I saw that the last Williamson was Jackson Bolt in June, and with the last one before that being Down 'n Dirty in February, it seems like we're doing a new Williamson every four months. When you compare that to Dolph, who's about one every three months, and Seagal is actually where Williamson, averaging about one every four months, I guess that means I have been doing more Williamson on here. And what I liked about this one was how much Williamson we got. It seems like a lot of his newer ones have less of him in them, and I can't blame him for that considering he's done plenty of great ones and he's in his 80s now; but here at 75, he could still get after it, which may bode well for some of the other DTVC Hall of Famers out there that are over 60.

Someone who isn't pushing 60, Mike Möller, who showed up again with some really fantastic fight scenes. The problem here was we had so much else going on with all the other characters, that we didn't get as much of him as we'd have wanted. His stuff is absolutely electric, you could put him up there with guys like Iko Uwais, the problem I think is Uwais speaks fluent English, which allows him to carry the non-action scenes off better. I don't know if we'll get Möller on that level, and it looks like after Ultimate Justice he went back to strictly German films. I feel like with the proliferation of action films being shot and produced by guys like Jesse V. Johnson, Ross Boyask, and Daniel Zirilli, there has to be a place for Möller in at least one of them. We need more of this guy!

The Lamas extra was an interesting twist. I had no idea he was in it until his name came up in the credits. It was a nice surprise, since we hadn't seen Lamas in over a year, when we did Gladiator Cop, which was really just him in edited footage from The Swordsman. This is now 35 for him, and out of all the actors in the 30 Club, he's probably best poised to get into the 40 Club. I have one in the can that I've seen already, Bordercross, which was taken off of Tubi before I could get images of it; and then I saw a few others are available on Tubi as well that I could make happen. We haven't moved anyone into the 40 Club since Cannon went in, so it'll be interesting if Lamas is that one.



Finally, this film used baddies in gas masks to allow them to have only a few stunt actors be as many as possible. A great trick for stretching the budget, and beyond that, I personally enjoy that approach: it's like this mass of endless, faceless killers coming to get them. I guess that added to the "Final Girl" horror element we had here, but I liked it better from the standpoint of the bad guys than from a plot device with all the heroes getting picked off one-by-one. I get too that it probably sounds inconsistent. How can I like one thing and not the other? My response is, "how can I not?"

And with that, let's wrap this up. Free on Tubi isn't the worst deal, but because of a lot of the extraneous character development and unevenly paced plot, the 90 minutes feels closer to 120, which hurts. I think if you're looking for more Williamson, and want to see what Mike Möller can do, this might do the trick for you though.

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