The 2nd (2020)

Always remember, no matter how tough life can be, there isn’t any kind of problem, big or small, that can’t be helped by sending in a CIA hit team to kidnap someone’s kid. Seriously, I use them to handle my grocery shopping.

Major Vic Davis is a special forces super soldier and not the best dad. He shows up two hours late to pick up his son from college because the dorms will be closed. However, his son Sean has the hots for Erin, the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice, who happens to be in the middle of making a call on a legal case involving the second amendment to the US Constitution. Vic soon realizes that Erin’s secret service driver is a fake, and he and Sean set out to protect Erin from a CIA hit squad that has been sent in to abduct her. All because the Director of the CIA has reasons for wanting to bring down the second amendment and also may be part of a larger shadowy deep state anti-gun ownership terrorist organization. Or something, the movie gets kind of vague on this point.

Why is the CIA Director so anti-gun? Well as it turns out, his daughter was killed in a school shooting involving an assault rifle. So that’s why, when a major case comes up before the Supreme Court, he’s willing to send a team of heavily armed and highly trained assassins to kidnap and pretty much murder a Supreme Court Justice’s daughter, because that makes sense. Hell, the movie starts with us unknowingly watching the head of the CIA trying to use dipshit terrorist-wannabes to make an assassination attempt on a pro-gun Senator, only to be stopped by Vic’s super soldier special ops skills and bad tries at witty banter. Ladies and gentlemen, the US government at work. Give them a hand, please, they need it.

But let us look at the cast, which consists of Ryan Phillippe as Vic, Casper Van Dien as a CIA hitter known only as The Driver, and the rest of the cast full of tv actors and “that guys” whom you will recognize and repeatedly point out to your annoyed spouse/partner/roommate/pet. One of the entertaining quirks of this movie is that we somehow get representation of the entire Starship Troopers live action film trilogy, with Casper Van Dien bringing us both Starship Troopers and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, while the politically-confused CIA head, Director Phillips, is played by Richard Burgi, “star” of the abysmal Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation. And you can quote me on that, I hate Starship Troopers 2. I am also proud to say that this movie upholds the tradition of entertainment portraying women in the CIA as all having perfect asses. If ever you wonder which nearby lady might actually be a spy, always remember, Hollywood thinks it’s the one with the best ass.

Ok, I don’t want to rag on the cast too much, because there is one major highlight: James Logan as Sproule, a Russian operative in a janitor’s uniform that loves to randomly lapse into a faux Southern accent, not as an accident but because he can. Logan is by far the best thing about this movie, and as stupidly ridiculous as most of the film is, he’s fantastic in every scene. Whether it’s getting beaten bloody by Ryan Phillippe, pushing a trash can around, or making small talk about how much life would have been better if he’d ever gone to college and the number of South Africans in Russia, James Logan gives the performance of the film. In fact, if someone did a supercut of just his scenes, it would probably be more entertaining and make just as much sense as the rest of this movie.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still important lessons to be learned here. Like for instance, this movie taught me that if you stand by a flaming car in a bloody shirt with a gun under your arm, holding a sign that says “I’m here to help” written in blood will definitely get Supreme Court Justices to stop their cars and give you a ride. Also, Delta Force operatives can climb the sides of buildings in two seconds while under sniper fire, dumpsters make great places for knife fights, and the best thing for a guy hospitalized with gunshot wounds is for a lady to show up in a slinky dress with a bottle of booze. Because they’ll definitely allow that in a hospital. Oh, and despite being set on fire and blown out the upper story of a building, Casper Van Dien will survive. Seriously, that dude is like a cockroach.

One thing I do need to point out that gave me serious problems though was the film’s sense of time. Yes, it released in 2020, and as far as I can tell from the level of technology, it’s supposed to take place around 2019/2020 but lacking in the whole plague thing. When The Driver discovers who Vic is, he comments that he’s been in every warzone for the last 20 years…but then names a bunch of military conflict locations from the 1990s, like Somalia and Kosovo. Later, in a scene that I was sure was about to evolve into the ass watch scene from Pulp Fiction, Vic gives us a whole talk about getting a watch in 1997s from Bill Clinton (who did NOT carry the watch in his ass, I’m sorry to inform you). Here’s the problem: Vic’s been a special forces operative for at least 25 years but is only a Major? Man, how bad did he fuck up? If he’s still active, he should be at least a full bird Colonel by now, and he’d also probably be on his third knee replacement from all the combat drops. Dude may have a Medal of Honor and Bill Clinton’s ass watch, but he’s also screwed something up, and it’s something much worse than keeping a creepy Colonel Sanders-wannabe Senator from talking to a young and pretty reporter.

Look, The 2nd is dumb. Like, really dumb. There are a lot of things it does that leave me shaking my head. There are a few things it does that I found genuinely entertaining though, so no, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever watched either. In fact, I’d say it’s still better than Starship Troopers 2, and that isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever watched. Just know going in that you shouldn’t try to think too hard about this movie. That way lies madness.

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