'Confessions of an Action Star' Review: A Meteoric Rise
Everyone loves a good comeback story. But you know what’s even better than that? The schadenfreude of that first terrible fall from grace. Whether it’s Brittney chopping all her hair off or Christian shouting at the help, we, as a culture, thrive on seeing our heroes brought low. It’s a twisted joy, but one we can’t help but revel in from time to time. And that’s just the beginning of the fun in Confessions of an Action Star.
Starring David Leitch as Frank Sledge, we see his rise from Chippendale’s dancer to Hollywood big shot. Initially signed on as a budget replacement for a major action hero, Frank proves that his background in rhythm and choreography can propel him to the top billings. But as his fame ignites and his roles begin to change, we see the legend change from sweet-faced everyman to Steven Segal-levels of unwarranted ego. Once Sledge starts to turn on his own friends, can he ever truly redeem himself?
Perhaps the greatest strength of this entry is its use of genre, both in its own world and in a more Meta sense. On the surface, a story about an action star is easy to follow, simple to make engaging, and often filled with a cast of varied and eccentric personalities. From Terminator to Mad Max, there’s always a goldmine of stories to be had from the set. Trying to film something so high-octane puts people close to their limits, and that’s always good for a tale or two, at least.
But on the other hand, Confessions also functions exceedingly well as a mockumentary. There’s very little in the way of sweeping narration, and the plot feels natural rather than contrived by a team of writers. The plan is to focus on the story of Sledge’s career, and that’s precisely what it does. Nothing feels like random happenstance (for better or worse), and you can see exactly how each moment in the protagonist’s life precipitates the next. By the end of the movie, everything has reached a satisfying conclusion, sure, but it only sinks in so well because you buy into the idea that this is, or could at least happen to, a real person.
After a full month of movies like this, it’s hard to really say much more. The acting is great, the script is not just charming, but actually downright funny, and there are some superb cameos, to boot! Perhaps its only weakness is an aversion to licensed music – I’m sure this was a low-budget endeavor and the “parodies” were meant to add to the comedy, but most weren’t actually that clever and just would have been better served by paying to get the real deal. But that’s seriously how deep I have to go to nitpick what turned out to be quite an enjoyable little flick.
So if you’re a fan of 80s action, big personas, or, hell, just have an extra hour to spare, you could do a hell of a lot worse than strapping in to watch Confessions of an Action Star. I’ll guarantee you won’t be disappointed.