Two Special Forces veterans and ex-cons strike it rich with a gonzo social media website and then battle a vengeful conspiracy in this debut thriller.
Matthew “Cass” Cassidy, an ex–Marine Force Recon honcho stuck in a sweltering Mississippi prison on trumped-up charges, and fellow inmate Evan Masters, an ex–Air Force Combat Control honcho who practically runs the place by bribing guards, meet cute when they beat up some gangbangers. Bonding over their military backgrounds, the two have a jaunty time in the poke, complete with an egg-eating contest straight out of Cool Hand Luke, until the warden, at the behest of a shadowy man called Mr. Felsner, hires an inmate death squad to murder them. Fortunately, the eight shiv-armed neo-Nazis are handily defeated and maimed by Evan and Cass. Released from prison, the two brainstorm a surefire internet scheme: a website called Dare Ya!, where people challenge each other with crazy propositions and post videos of the results. (Cass gets the ball rolling with a nude bungee-jump from a balloon.) Before you can say “Mark Zuckerberg meets Jackass,” Dare Ya! goes viral and turns Cass and Evan into celebrity zillionaires who dare Conan O’Brien himself to undergo an on-air nipple piercing. Alas, Mr. Felsner, now titling himself the Director and assisted by lady assassin Constance, aka “the shorthaired vixen,” carries on his obscure, fitful war against Cass and Evan, escalating from a denial-of-service hack to a massacre in which college kids are dared to climb a water tower and then mowed down by snipers. In Magyar and Sibley’s haphazard tale, Cass and Evan are lively, if not exactly nuanced, heroes—Evan, a redneck who likes liquor and Las Vegas floozies, is especially entertaining. Their bromantic banter and blithe violence (“the crack of breaking cartilage echoed throughout the cafeteria”) keep the story moving—except when they are building their dotcom juggernaut, a project that is as boring as every other dotcom-building saga. The Director is a cartoonish but inept villain whose strategy of attacking other people as an oblique and murky way of getting at Cass and Evan generally misfires. Not all that much daring is required to take down such a hapless bad guy.
An energetic, but sometimes-feckless action potboiler about a wacky dotcom.