Never Back Down

Rated 2.0

A hot-headed high-school athlete (Sean Faris), filled with rage and guilt over the car-crash death of his father, is unable to stay out of fights, and when his surviving family moves to Florida, he finds an underground fight-club culture tailor-made to appeal to his own worst instincts. Chris Hauty’s script has all the standard elements: comic sidekick (Evan Peters), arrogant villain (Cam Gigandet), villain’s gorgeous girlfriend who likes the newcomer (Amber Heard) and, of course, a Karate Kid-style martial-arts mentor for the troubled hero (Djimon Hounsou, in the movie’s most controlled and dignified performance). It’s a virtual remake of, of all things, 1939’s Destry Rides Again, with fists instead of guns (though the comparison gives it way too much credit). Jeff Wadlow’s direction is disorderly.