It’s brooding, it’s sexy, and it’s easily one of the most innovative action films ever made.

One night, one building, one hell of a good time! Russell Mulcahy’s Silent Trigger stars Dolph Lundgren as Waxman, a highly-trained assassin working for a secret government organization. Assigned to kill an unknown target, Waxman is paired up with Clegg (Gina Bellman), a spotter who’s worked with Waxman in the past. With one night to complete their assignment, Waxman and Clegg face off against a doped-up security guard and existential dread. 

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UAMC Reviews Silent Trigger (1996)

It’s not every day that you see an action film as unconventional as Silent Trigger, which is what makes it so interesting. The basic plot is just enough to get the film going, but Silent Trigger hits its stride when it’s focused on character and atmosphere. Action movies generally tend to move with a sense of urgency, but Russell Mulcahy is more interested in slowing things down rather than setting up the next set-piece. The constant rain, ambient score, and grungy cinematography firmly establish a downbeat existential sense of dread that does not let up for the entirety of its runtime. These reasons alone make Silent Trigger feel more like a horror film than an action film. The only thing keeping it from being a horror film is Dolph Lundgren, who brings his action credentials to the forefront.

Lundgren has always been an underrated talent, but when utilized correctly, he’s a tremendous asset. Whether playing a cold-blooded boxer in Rocky or a mentally unhinged soldier in Universal Soldier, Lundgren’s physicality is what helps him stand out and Mulcahy takes full advantage of Lundgren’s imposing frame. The character of Waxman doesn’t get to say much, but the expressions on his face manage to say more than any line of dialogue could. From the opening sequence, it’s clear to see the inner conflict within Waxman and his hesitancy to kill other people; he’s a guy who’s made bad decisions looking to make things right. Lundgren might be the face of the film, but it’s his co-star Gina Bellman who is the emotional anchor.

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Dolph Lundgren and Gina Bellman

Clegg is the audience surrogate through which we experience the film’s events. She’s also the one who provides us insight into Waxman’s psyche. Waxman’s cynicism played against Bellman’s bright-eyed inexperience is the spark that makes their dynamic engrossing. There’s also a hint of sexual chemistry between the characters. 

Rounding out the cast list is Christopher Heyerdahl as O’Hara, a security guard for the building where Waxman and Clegg are stationed at. While Lundgren and Bellman play the straight-laced protagonists, Heyerdahl gets free rein to dial up his performance! O’Hara is one of the vilest and most memorable movie villains in a DTV action film! The performance works so well because it’s in sync with the film’s overall aesthetic. The performance is equal parts hammy as it is frightening and Heyerdahl does not falter in balancing both aspects of the character.

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The film’s atmosphere is both the film’s strength as well as its weakness. While it may be advertised as an action film, most action junkies might be put off by its pacing and sparse display of action sequences. The plot itself doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and largely serves as background noise to a film that’s largely interested in the existential dread of its characters. Even when the action happens, the sequences are rather pedestrian and would be largely dismissed in any other action film. 

For some, the experimentation of Silent Trigger might disincline those looking for a straightforward action flick, but for those looking for something unconventional, you simply can’t go wrong with this film! This is one of the more interesting performances that Lundgren has ever given and it’s largely because he gets to play the action lead in an experimental art film. The style that Mulcahy goes for will be the main takeaway for first-time viewers. It’s brooding, it’s sexy, and it’s easily one of the most innovative action films ever made. If you want an action film that goes against the grain, then Silent Trigger is the way to go!

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