Turnover at work is a fact of life and nowhere is it more pronounced than the WWE. Every year there are at least several releases a year and it can be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the wrestler retires (Santino Marella), sometimes the wrestler chooses to leave (Wade Barrett) and even just because the writers have no clue what to do with you (Demian Sandow). It happens so frequently that the phrase “future endeavored” has become a joke in the industry. At a certain point it was destined to effect the WWE’s film division. After all not every action movie can star John Cena. Over the years WWE Studios has given roles to wrestlers who just didn’t pan out in the company. This month I’ll be looking at one of movies that did just that in Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia.
Debuting in 2005 Ken Kennedy was almost immediately a main event prospect in the WWE. An arrogant heel character in just over a year he was feuding with some of the biggest names in the company like The Undertaker. He even got a co-sign from WWE Legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as someone to watch out for. Unfortunately for Kennedy whenever he looked to go to that next level something would happen. Whether it was getting injured shortly after his debut or being suspended after he was revealed to be Mr. McMahon’s illegitimate son (long story) timing was never on his side. He would later be released by the WWE after Randy Orton claimed that Kennedy was reckless in the ring to Mr. McMahon. Not before being in the first WWE Studios direct-to-video movie, Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia.
Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia
Wrestler- Ken Kennedy
Wrestling Moves Used- 0
Real Stars- Keith David, Joe Manganiello
A US Navy Seals unit is sent into Columbia on a recon mission when everything goes wrong. Caught between two warring political factions Lt. Sean Macklin (Joe Manganiello) and Master Chief Petty Officer Carter Holt (Mr. Kennedy), are accused of ambushing an attempted peace treaty. With a whole country looking for them the two must find the only evidence that can clear their name.
Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia is unique in that it is the first WWE Studios film to not star a wrestler. It’s an interesting way to go that actually pays off. Instead they go with a pre-True Blood Joe Manganiello and all things considered it works. A decent enough actor who never overacts and is convincing in action scenes he is kind of the perfect direct to video action star. Honestly not sure why he doesn’t do more of these types of movies. We’ve certainly seen worse in this series. I can’t say the same of the rest of the cast though. Not that they are necessarily bad but everyone is so bland. From the villain to the CIA agents trying to take over the operation everybody is a stock military movie archetype. The closest to standing out is Keith David and that is mainly because dude is cool no matter what role he is in. This is saying nothing about our wrestler star, Ken Kennedy.
Despite being the person on the cover of the DVD his role isn’t all that big. While he’s seen throughout the film he is mostly in the sidekick/comedic role. Now admittedly I don’t remember much of Mr. Kennedy’s run in WWE but here he comes off like the most annoying bro. Maybe it was just his wrestling persona coming out but the whole time he had this smug grin you wanted to see slapped off his face. While this works in the world of pro wrestling it made it much harder for me to root for his survival here. When he isn’t delivering bad one liners he is given a very wooden performance. Not quite Ted Dibiase Jr bad but not too much better either. He couldn’t even at least do something like perform a wrestling move in a fight scene. Needless to say, Mr. Kennedy is no Miz.
While the acting is pedestrian for the most part the movie works surprisingly well. Despite a slow start it becomes an enjoyable little action movie. Directed by actor Tim Matheson all of the action is surprisingly good for a direct to video movie that rarely looked cheap. All of the fire fights look clean (for lack of a better term) without the handheld cameras making it too difficult to watch. Aside from an awful rocket effect and some terrible green screen it is at the very least on par with other direct to video sequels.
Perhaps it is the fact that the 12 Rounds series is so awful or maybe these movies are starting to wear on me. Either way I have to be honest, I came out of this one pretty positive. Keep in mind I wouldn’t call this movie good or even a guilty pleasure. Despite some quirks like stock footage and silly green screen it is a standard paint by numbers direct to video action movie. The thing is it isn’t a bad one. At no point was I ever bored and it was, dare I say, fun at points. I wouldn’t recommend it or say it is worth seeking out. But as long as you go in with appropriate expectations there are worse ways to kill a Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately I was only able to get to Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia. Which means that will to be it for this month’s Wrestling is Reel this month. Sticking with the Future Endeavored theme I will be reviewing Ryuhei Kitamura’s 2012 film No One Lives featuring Brodus Clay.