By John Moore, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)
John Moore’s Review of Boone the Bounty Hunter
Let me get this out of the way first, the movie is bad as far as stories are concerned. Very vanilla and cookie cutter. That said, if you’re either a wrestling fan or you grew up watching straight-to-VHS sequels that weren’t so good but you still got some charming entertainment from it, then you should watch this film. The reason I’m reviewing this is because I ran into John Hennigan (a.k.a. John Morrison, Johnny Nitro, Johnny Impact, Johnny Island, Johnny etc.) at the Lucha Underground filming set three years ago and told him that I would eventually review his straight-to-DVD movie, which he would mention every five minutes.
Three years later, after kinda dreading what I assumed was a bad movie, it showed up on Netflix and I said why the hell not? I was right, the movie as a movie was bad but I finished the movie with a smile on my face so there’s that. What made me a bit apprehensive about reviewing this is I thought that this was somehow the origin of his “Slamtown” character which I’m not fond of, but I kinda wish we do get more Boone rather than Slamtown Johnny in his pro wrestling character because there is a more “charming” difference there.
This film stars John Hennigan as Boone the Bounty Hunter. What did you expect given the title of the film? Boone’s a cheesy action star who got started in the Hollywood business due to doing “legit” bounty hunting and free running as a traceur (person who does parkour). He is joined by Denny (the tech wiz), Kat (the spunky female sidekick), and Rampage Jackson (yes, THAT Rampage Jackson) where they form a team that fights crime, collects bounties, and records their worked and shoot (like pro wrestling) adventures in order to produce their Boone the Bounty Hunter television series. An entitled rich kid (played by Jonathan Lipnicki, the kid from Jerry McGuire) who’s the son of an evil drug overlord has a ten million dollar bail (or bounty) out for his arrest and it’s up to Boone and his crew to track down this kid to collect the Bounty as well as boast the ratings of their fledgling show.
This movie in a nutshell is John Morrison, the wrestler, wandering into a made-for-Nickelodeon film; and in that it’s strangely enthralling and entertaining. Hands down the best two actors in this movie are John Hennigan and Rampage Jackson. Rampage’s character comes off as self-aware and purposely cheesy. He’s an archetype. Rampage is playing the stereotypical tough black dude so much that he comes off as a combination of Mr. T and all of the Carl Weathers characters combined.
Hennigan’s character is just John Morrison, but I think he does a good job here because he does some of the best speaking, or promo work, that I’ve seen him do. Part of that is he isn’t coming off as nervous and they don’t have him out there speaking in three-minute non-stop monologues. I was surprised by the speaking job he did here. He does do a lot of cheese, but it’s not like he’s winking-and-nodding at the camera which his pro wrestling character tends to do on Impact and Lucha Underground. My favorite speaking part of his was when he was trying to have a heart-to-heart with the child in distress and suddenly he couldn’t help but turn into a PSA for a few moments. The best part of Hennigan’s performance is of course his free running and pro wrestling. The best scenes of the movie are when he’s chasing dudes and hitting him with his signature John Morrison moves. The movie even starts off with Hennigan chasing Kevin Sorbo for no real reason other than to get some cool free running scenes.
Most of the actors aren’t great in this movie. As Boone is going scene to scene, he confronts cliché, after cliché, after cliché in terms of scenes and characters. You can tell who’s a good actor and who comes off as an extra trying to play an acting role. Some people who put in good performances are Boone’s two sidekicks played by Osric Chau and Spencer Grammar. Their acting was solid despite Osric playing the token Asian-American tech geek and Spencer playing the token female sidekick.
There are a lot of cliché and action movie tokens throughout this film but these two aren’t phoning it in so that’s nice. Jonathan Lipnicki plays the token entitled crime lord son and he was a bit of a disappointment. He didn’t add nothing other than read the lines that you would expect from this character that you’ve seen in every action flick. The villains are the worst part of this film because they are just so generic. The head evil dude, who I can’t remember the name of, wasn’t good at all due to it sounding like he was reading all his lines out of cue cards. He’s sadly as one-note as a Bond Villain can get.
To give more credit. Lorenzo Lamas makes an appearance in this film. Most may know him from the movie Grease or the TV Show Renegade. Wrestling fans may know him as that one guy who got his head exploded by Brian Cage and his [not-] Infinity Gauntlet. The point about “extras” is reflected here because you can tell Lamas is a good actor when standing next to a bunch of clichés. He does only have a bit part though as a grungy bartender and the camera oddly seems to want to focus on him more than needed. Someone I wanted to see more of was Jane Park who played the generic sub-boss assassin who works under the final boss. Through most of the movie she is walking around as a cliché, making cliché smirks (can you tell that I’m using the word “cliché” a lot for a reason). She does untie her hair in the end and have some cool fight scenes with Boone and Kat.
Speaking of fight scenes, the fight scenes and free running are the best parts of the film as I mentioned. Your expectations shouldn’t be to see a deep story here. It’s just John Morrison doing his John Morrison things inside of a cookie cutter film. I would expect the sequel to be John Morrison in space fighting space aliens using his space ship that he’ll call Starship Pain. It should be expected, but Hennigan does is own stunts in the film and you really get to see the work he put in during the blooper reel. The free running scenes were fun.
The fight scenes were well choreographed too. Stuntmen Lateef Crowder and TJ Storm play two generic thugs who might as well have been cosplaying as the Albino twins from Matrix Reloaded. I’m not sure if they’re actually Spanish but they were playing Mexicans. Their accents were almost as American as John Hennigan speaking Spanish so that was odd. That flaw aside, the duo had some great fights with Hennigan and were some of the highlight fights of the film. One fight that I wanted to see more of was Boone vs. the Asian assassin lady. The assassin lady did get to fight Kat but it ended in disappointment because Kat cleanly beat up the Assassin despite it not looking like Kat was as technically trained as the assassin or Boone. It also ended up becoming the cliché “Girl Power” fight scene.
While I have come down on all of the clichés and cookie cutter setpieces of this movie, I can’t help but recommend this as a fun watch. This movie is fun. It’s not for everyone, yeah, but it’s almost like the movie is self-aware that it’s bad so the actors who do care are putting all their effort into it. Be prepared for a lot of cringe, but know that the cringe is coming and that there is fun stuff in it. After watching the movie once, if you watch it again you will probably fast forward through all the stuff not involving Boone because it can drag. I talked about Rampage Jackson being one of the best parts of the movie, but he’s only in the film for about 5 minutes. It’s a borderline cameo but he’s so fun in the cheese he adds. If you take away the bad movie and build an action comedy around Hennigan and Rampage then there might be a hot film that’s legit good all around. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Boone 2: Starship Pain staring Hennigan and Rampage just beating up space aliens. So there, if you’re a wrestling fan, action movie fan, 90s kid, or a person who gets a kick out of straight-to-DVD films then this movie is for you.