Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Somebody help me out here since I have no idea how the inner working of the Hollywood distribution process works.  I get my copy of ‘End Game’ for review with a pretty good cast starring Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., and Academy Award nominees James Woods, Burt Reynolds and Anne Archer.  So I’m thinking this movie must be total crap since it’s going DTV (direct to video) without a sniff of the multiplex.  After watching it, it’s not total crap.  Far from it actually.  Its actually a fairly entertaining, well shot, well paced action thriller that is at least no worse than the most of the junk that’s funneled into the multiplexes.  Does the absence of A list stars doom your film to DTV?  If your movie doesn’t have Brad, Will, Julia or Tommies Cruise or Hanks relegates you to the Blockbuster rental shelf?


Cuba Gooding is Secret Service Agent Alex Thomas, primary detail on protecting the President (Jack Scalia).  During a routine photo op, a crazed gunman in the crowd puts a bullet through Agent Thomas’s hand and through the president’s skull, effectively ending his soon expiring second term.  Wracked with guilt and blame, Agent Thomas retreats into a bottle, but nosy investigative reporter Kate Crawford (Angie Harmon) smells a conspiracy is afloat and begins investigating.  The fact that everybody she talks to ends up dead piques her interest even more.  Though Agent Thomas is skeptical at first, when someone blows up his boat and races automatic machine gun fire past his and Kate’s heads, he figures there may be something to this whole conspiracy thing. 

Agency Director Vaughn Stevens (Woods) advises Agent Thomas to cease his investigation while Securities General Montgomery (Reynolds) warns Thomas that he

might not like what he finds at the bottom of the rabbit hole.  There are a number of things in this flick that are completely ridiculous, like a Secret Service agent running a commando operation with absolutely no clearance from superiors and then getting a pat on the back when it’s done, or a guy suspected of masterminding the assassination of a United States president and overpowering the couple guards assigned to watch him.  But all in all, this is a very well shot, well-acted, well-paced thriller with some great action set pieces.  Cuba Gooding acquits himself quite well as the dogged and determined Agent Thomas.  Whether this rids the stench of ‘Boat Trip’ or ‘Snow Dogs’, I don’t know, but he was very good in this at least.


The plot of the story was just slightly out of left field, but still grounded in just enough reality to make some sense, and of course we have the dreaded ‘twist’ that always happens at the end of these kinds of films, but this one, again, made just enough sense.  I actually enjoyed this Secret Service drama more than the bigger, glossier, slicker ‘The Sentinel’ with A-listers Michael Douglas and Keifer Sutherland.  I guess Keifer’s an a-lister. 


Expertly directed by first time director and noted Jackie Chan stunt man Andy Cheng, ‘End Game’ is quite the pleasant surprise in the dreaded sea of dreck that is Direct-To-Video.


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