Come for the Scott Adkins, because you won’t find much else
Never fear, Max Cloud is here!
Providing a wonderful opportunity for martial arts legend in the making, Britain’s own Scott Adkins, to flex his comedic muscles, Max Cloud has him playing the titular arrogant hero of a [fictional] massively popular 90s-era side scrolling video game. As a game within a movie kind of situation, Adkins is swinging for the rafters with this artificial character, imbuing him with all the bravado and one-dimensional personality that a 16-bit action hero might have. It’s great stuff, honestly, and perfectly suited to Adkins’ ever-growing skillset. He’s got one-liners, regressive ideas that will be addressed humorously, and there are even a few well designed fight sequences presented in a 2D video game style which is surprisingly enjoyable aesthetically.
Readers may be aware that I’m somewhat of a Scott Adkins superfan and feel no compunction about being so, as long as I make it clear for the purposes of full disclosure. So my primary interest in seeing this film was due to Scott Adkins’ presence and my goal to see all of his films and review as many of them as I can. That said, I was quite charmed by the premise of Max Cloud, felt pretty blown away by the aesthetics on display in the trailer, was shocked at the quality of the ensemble cast, and had my hopes pretty high for this high concept 90s video game action sci-fi comedy.
And, look… I bear no ill will towards Max Cloud.
It just really doesn’t have all the ingredients it needed. It’s pleasant, largely unobjectionable, with a few highlights that result in a finished product that’s just undercooked.
Aping the latest iterations of Jumanji, Max Cloud pulls video game junkie Sarah (Isabelle Allen) into the game, and only her raw hot dog eating best friend Cowboy (Attack The Block’s Franz Drameh) can take the controller’s reins and guide Sarah’s video game avatar on a glitchy playthrough of the game to get her back out safely into the real world. Along the way some highly recognizable actors like John Hannah (The Mummy), Tommy Flanagan (Braveheart, Gladiator), and Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, No Time To Die) will ham it up inside the game world as well. There will be boss battles and in-game challenges that have real world consequences.
The few moments of inspiration in the film involve the aforementioned spot on Scott Adkins performance. He goes big, and it all works. The Adkins of a decade ago likely couldn’t have pulled off this role, but his hard work has paid off and he simply clicks here. It’s also clear that the design of the video game itself is based on 90s era Capcom beat ’em ups like Captain Commando or Final Fight. I loved those games and felt like whoever designed the 16-bit scenes did a great job. It’s when you start to realize you are enjoying the video game cutscenes more than the game itself when the problems arise though, right? That’s ultimately how the movie feels. Allen and Drameh are trying, but you can feel that they’re going for laugh out loud comedy when what they’re given is amusing at best, limp at worst. The Jumanji films do a much better job of this “sucked into a video game” schtick, unfortunately. And Max Cloud’s 88 minutes runtime actually feels quite padded. I would say that the script from Sally Collett and director Martin Owen needed a little more work, but also the very cheap feeling production design brings the low budget feature down some, and the direction by Owen is serviceable at best. There are moments when it springs to life as it goes hard on a fight scene (Fight Coordinator Dawid Szatarski of the Andy Long Stunt Team deserves a shoutout for some fun set pieces that incorporate the film’s video game inspirations), letting Adkins do his thing, or when it doubles down on its 16-bit roots. But there’s just not enough here to sustain a feature, unfortunately.
I don’t recommend Max Cloud to anyone but Scott Adkins fans or video game movie completionists. It isn’t that the film is offensive or actively terrible. As mentioned, there’s a few highlights to grab hold of and enjoy. But the film makes clear what it’s striving for and unfortunately is simply unable to achieve the high concept intergalactic comedic adventures it is inspired by.
Well Go USA didn’t load this Blu-ray up with even so much as a sizzle reel. You’re getting the movie, and the movie alone… though at least you get a full HD option! (Many Scott Adkins films are unfortunately not even getting that Stateside). So really there’s not much to this package and only Scott Adkins completionists need really feel compelled to own this film on physical media. For those who remain curious, I’d suggest a Digital rental or purchase (even though I myself won’t take that advice).
And I’m Out.
Max Cloud is now available on Digital and will hit Blu-ray & DVD January 19th, 2021 from Well Go USA Entertainment.