Directed by Ernie Barbarash and starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, 6 Bullets is a turgid variation on Taken that lacks zip, suspense, or compelling characters. This direct-to-DVD feature is the second collaboration between Barbarash and Van Damme, the first being Assassination Games (2011). Incidentally, both films were family affairs for Van Damme, as his son, Kristopher Van Varenberg, and daughter, Bianca Bree, play supporting roles.
Samson Gaul (Van Damme) is an ex-mercenary whose specialty is locating kidnapped children. He’s haunted by a deadly mistake he made, however, leading to a crisis of confidence. When professional mixed martial artist Andrew Fayden (Joe Flanigan) and his wife Monica (Anna-Louise Plowman) travel to Romania, their 13-year-old daughter Becky (Charlotte Beaumont) is taken. Her captors have plans to sell her as a sex slave. Based on reputation, the couple believe there’s only one man who can rescue Becky: Samson Gaul.
The problem with 6 Bullets, besides not being particularly original, is its deadly slow pace. There’s no good reason for this thrill-free thriller to drag on for 115 minutes. For some reason, the filmmakers were intent on making a humorless, brooding film that has none of the adrenaline of the far superior Taken. And although Van Damme tries to make Samson a hero worth rooting for, he never really makes a connection with the audience. Part of that is connected to his relative lack of screen time. Flanigan (mostly a TV actor, he played John Sheppard in Stargate: Atlantis) is really the star here.
This is really by-the-numbers filmmaking. The Expendables 2 put Van Damme back on the big screen with a juicy role. It’s kind of depressing to see him mope his way through something like this after that comeback performance. He doesn’t even really get all that involved in the action, except to shoot guns at the generic bad guys responsible for trafficking underage girls. Maybe his next outing, the comedy Welcome to the Jungle, will allow him a better opportunity to display some charisma. At least his daughter, actually credited as both Bianca Bree and Bianca Van Varenberg, provides a little eye candy during her too-brief performance.
The DVD is bare-bones, containing just the movie. Anyone looking for insights into why 6 Bullets was made in the first place will be sorely disappointed.