Elimination Game Review

Elimination Game Packshot
Title: Elimination Game
Director: Jon Hewitt
Starring: Dominic Purcell,
Viva Bianca,
Robert Taylor,
Nicholas Hammond,
Genre: Action
Runtime: 1 Hour 30 mins
Music: Cezary Skubiszewski
Studio: Altitude Film Entertainment
Certificate: US: Not Rated
UK: 18
DVD Release Date: US: Jul 07 2015
UK: Oct 12 2015
See If You Like: The Condemned
Run away from this Running Man rip-off…

While Running Man rip-offs have been commonplace for years (you could every argue billion dollar franchise The Hunger Games plays off a similar concept), every now and then one comes along which proves to be a real game-changer, a solid, worthwhile, socially relevant commentary on the state of modern society, or even just a fantastic feast of visceral action and visual thrills. Elimination Game is not one of these.

Prison Break‘s Dominic Purcell (now occasionally seen guesting in episodes of The Flash) headlines as ex-soldier/assassin Rick Tyler; an imprisoned man convicted of slaughtering numerous unarmed civilians (an event he has no memory of), but given one last shot at freedom. He’s forced to star in the latest episode of hit TV show Turkey Shoot; where a prisoner attempts to dodge hired mercenaries, in increasingly impossible levels, on their way to unlocking three mystery boxes and thereby winning their freedom.

It sounds like a simple, easy to get behind, premise which could easily be beefed up into a feature-length movie, and judging by both that outline and the DVD box art, you’d hope for something along the lines of WWE Studios’ The Condemned (one of the better Running Man rip-offs, and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s best movie as a headliner). Sadly Elimination Game can’t even hope to compete with The Condemned, as instead of focussing on the game itself (the coolest/scariest aspect of the entire film) the filmmakers decided to amp up an exceptionally poor and un-thought out conspiracy plot involving an illegal war and the framing of the Elimination Game‘s strangely dull and unlikable hero Tyler.


Tyler ‘plays’ a round and a bit of the game, but spends a disproportionate amount of time in ‘the real world’ attempting to clear his name and avoid the authorities; an understandable plot device, but one which is given far too much time, handled poorly, and leads to several diabolically cheap looking action set pieces (including a near-unwatchable car chase which must’ve cost roughly $6 to film).

Though it’s not just the car chase which looks cheap (there was an element of overreaching within the chase which is understandable – though rewrites and a cut should’ve allowed for budget constraints), director Jon Hewitt can’t handle even the simplest of action sequences; a gun fight, a hand to hand brawl, or any type of mundane scuffle comes with so many jarring cuts it’s practically impossible to follow (not to mention seizure-inducing at times), and even the smallest of punches/kicks is repeated umpteen times for ‘added effect.’ Sadly, the effect of each of these poor decisions compounds, and ruins the main element of any action film; the action.


Writing is poor; not only is it blatantly obvious where Elimination Game gets its influences, but it’s utterly clichéd, adds nothing new to the genre whatsoever, and misses the mark at every opportunity; even attempts at satire (coming in  RoboCop/Hunger Games like form of constantly smiling gameshow presenters laughing about competitors’ deaths) fall flat simply feel forced.

Characterisation is awful; everyone is underwritten, one-dimensional, and devoid of any sort of empathy; and it probably doesn’t help that aside from Dominic Purcell (who, in fairness, does a decent job with the limited material he’s given, and frankly deserves to be getting better roles, in better movies, than this) none of the stars here would barely pass the audition phase of a pre-school nativity play.

So, sadly, due to ropey effects, woeful writing, incompetent direction, and a general lack of cohesion there are few positives to take from Elimination Game. Dominic Purcell does his best, but a series of missteps kept this poor action movie on the straight-to-DVD list. A clear case of wasted potential.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

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