As usual, I’m running late again with another one of my themed flick reviews. I really, really wanted to get this one up in time for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin Day on 3/16, but this research project came up for Joe Bob that involved a bunch of in-depth discussions about time-traveling rabbits and so I didn’t get around to this Screening Room until after that was all taken care of.
The last flick I did was Robert Rodriguez’s El Cheapo homage to his debut flick, El Mariachi. For this year’s “Stone Cold” review, it’s sort of a Rodriguez-adjacent flick because co-starring in 2011’s Recoil with the former champion pro wrestler from Texas is Senor Machete himself, Danny Trejo.
The flick starts out with Stone Cold driving a muscular 1968 Plymouth GTX down a dark highway at night and then it’s daytime and these three yokels are out in the woods hunting. This guy Dale who’s overcompensating for his shortcomings with a ginormous scoped semiautomatic unloads about 11 shots and totally misses a cute brown bunny rabbit, which hops blithely away back into its peaceful woodlands. The scene was worth a hearty chortle.
His two hunting companions rag on him, which gets Dale mad, and he says, “I ain’t leaving unless I kill something.” So he tries to run after the rabbit and stops at a ledge, but then Stone Cold grabs him by the windpipe, asks Dale if he remembers Maryanne de Rosa and then chucks him off a cliff.
Sure, we don’t know who Maryanne de Rosa is yet, but it’s OK because Dale was a rapist and a murderer according to the faded newspaper clips on the passenger seat of Stone Cold’s Plymouth that we saw in the first scene, and it’s how these kind of flicks have worked in the 50-some years since the days of Drive-In Hall-of-Famer Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, and so on.
Stone Cold’s out for revenge (his character’s name is Barry or Ryan and he’s an ex-Dallas cop) because these guys in clown masks killed his family at his wife’s birthday party and so now he always wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep and so he just cleans his handgun for the rest of the night and is sleep-deprived the rest of the day, even though he drinks a bunch of coffee and has engaging conversations with diner workers who wear big white hoop earrings named Dakota.
He’s going to a place called Hope in Washington state as the next part of his mission to punish criminals and there he runs into The Circle biker gang. That’s run by Drayke (Trejo). Yeah, that’s how they spelled it — wanted to give the letter “y” some love. The gang spends the day running drugs of sundry sorts out of Henny’s Social Club, which has a motto of “Admission is free. You pay to get out.” The biker gang runs the town, the sheriff’s corrupt and the young deputy wants to make things right.
After saving hotel clerk Darcy (Serinda Swan) from Drayke’s brother, Stone Cold then executes him by strapping the guy onto the hood of a mid-1980s Chevy Caprice (mighta been a Malibu), putting the car in drive, wedging the gas pedal to the floor and ramming it into a wall. Judging by the size of the explosion, Stone Cold put some dynamite in the car as well because it blows up real good.
One nice touch is that after he does a revenge killing, Stone Cold heats this knife he has up and then burns a scar into his forearm so he doesn’t forget how many people he’s killed. Truth be told, it’s pretty easy to misplace that kind of info if it’s just a piece of paper or a sticky note you’re using to tally your body count. Bodily mutilation is a pretty loss-proof alternative there.
Stone Cold escalates things by blowing up a drug shipment in a box truck and then walking away in slow motion as the truck goes up behind him. This gets the attention of cops, both good and bad, and then he goes to The Circle’s hangout and opens a major can of (have to say it) whoop-ass on everyone while Danny Trejo gets progressively madder that his small-town biker crime empire’s getting attacked before we get to The Final Showdown.
Best Typical Morgue Attendant Behavior: The coroner describes a guy’s mangled corpse to the cops visiting him while eating an egg-salad sandwich.
Best Serendipitous Discovery: Gas station guy Kirby (you can tell his name cause it’s printed on his shirt) tells Stone Cold to ask for Darcy at the local motel when he arrives in Hope. “She’s cool,” Kirby says. We know someone named Darcy. She’s cool.
Best Way to Get Acquainted: Stone Cold sees this guy threatening a dog with a gun outside Henny’s club and beats the crud out of him. Then seven or eight bikers (including Trejo) come out and Trejo says “You must have some of the best health insurance in the world.”
Best Explanation of a Common Colloquialism: As Danny Trejo walks around this electrified barbed-wire macho fight club ring, he lectures on the origin of the word “deadbeat” before beating the tar out of this guy who owes him money.
Best Response: Darcy tells Stone Cold that the guy he just rescued her from is Drayke’s brother and he can’t be touched. “I’ll try not to get any on me,” Stone Cold says.
Second-best Response: When the guy he has strapped to the hood of a car says he was acquitted in his court case, Stone Cold responds, “Not by me.”
Third-best Response: When Darcy asks Stone Cold if he killed Drayke’s brother, Stone Cold says, “Technically, the explosion killed him.”
Recoil’s available to stream on TubiTV, PlutoTV, The Roku Channel and on Amazon Prime or you can get it on physical media.