Pro wrestler John Hennigan finds himself hunted down in this indie action thriller, the latest version of The Most Dangerous Game.
Rick Rainsford is a popular reality TV show star whose expertise is big game hunting. However, he is known for his hard partying and drinking, sometimes making him the butt of jokes. When on a journey aboard a cruise ship, he finds himself chastised by his new photographer Anna Richards. However, when the cruise ship is attacked and eventually wrecked, Rick and Anna, along with passenger Samuel, find themselves on a seemingly deserted island.
There are two inhabitants on the island. They are former Russian military officer Colonel Zaroff and his number one man, Ivan. Ivan nurses Samuel back to health while Zaroff reveals his nature to Rick. Zaroff is a hunter himself, only he uses humans as his potential prey. He offers Rick and Anna a challenge. A boat is located on the other side of the island. If they find the boat, they will live. However, they will have to fend off booby traps as well as the wrath of both Ivan and Zaroff. Going from the hunter to hunted, Rick must find a way to bring both Anna and Samuel to safety before they all are killed.
It is clear when you see him, whether in the ring or if you has seen him in Boone the Bounty Hunter that John Hennigan, currently known as Johnny Impact in Impact Wrestling, is destined to be a potential action star. Whereas Dwayne Johnson and Dave Bautista have made it to A-list productions, there are others who have had their share of on-screen glory in more indie action fare and Hennigan comfortably fits there, especially with his latest film.
Similar to his titular character of Boone the Bounty Hunter, Hennigan plays another reality TV star. However, as Rick, we don’t get to see him hunt down in his show, but instead show the dark side of fame as he parties hard and appears to be completely drunk. Funny enough, Hennigan plays it well as the shallow celebrity type, like his character in BTBH. However, when Hennigan gets the chance to show his action side, it is a truly a road to both redemption and sobriety for this character.
Michelle Taylor does a pretty good job as photographer Anna, who starts out chastising Rick due to his hard-partying ways and yet soon finds that Rick isn’t all he appears to be and finds him to be a valuable asset and perhaps the only one to help her survive their ordeal. Eric Etebari truly has a knack for playing dastardly villains with the right material, much like his lawyer-martial arts teacher in the indie drama The Great Fight. Here, he plays the very smooth talking villain Zaroff, who warms you up, then reveals his true intentions and goes into bad guy mode to a tee. Joseph Gatt brings it on as Zaroff’s henchman, Ivan, who has both a menacing look and a bit of a conscience when it comes to certain things involving the “hunt” as seen in a pivotal scene.
Never Leave Alive is a pretty decent indie take on The Most Dangerous Game and continues to prove John Hennigan as a good indie action star. With his abilities in the ring, it is clear at some point, it would be fun to see Hennigan do a full-on martial arts action film in the future. In the meantime, wrestling fans may get a kick out of this one.
WFG RATING: B-
An Ante Up Productions Film. Director: Steven LaMorte. Producers: Steven LaMorte and Jonathan Lee Smith. Writer: J. Amanda Sabater. Cinematography: Ryan De Franco. Editing: Steven LaMorte and Stephen Anthony Bailey.
Cast: John Hennigan, Michelle Taylor, Eric Etebari, Joseph Gatt, J. Michael Evans, Alistair McKenzie, Jim Pacitti, Jenilee Reyes, Kelly Montgomery.