Acts Of Vengeance Review
Acts of Vengeance is a 2017 action film about a fast-talking lawyer who transforms his body and takes a vow of silence, not to be broken until he finds out who killed his wife and daughter and has his revenge.
The hardened older man on a journey of personal revenge has sort of reached its zenith of late, with many big name former action stars taking to the genre with unbridled zeal, most parodies of themselves. With the current trend now bound by its tropes, few are all that innovative, seeking more to prop of the conventions of the formula than to go in new directions. Now comes Isaac Florentine‘s Acts of Vengeance, a film by its title alone says nearly everything you need to know, laid out easy-to-read words and big bold colors.
Frank Valera (Antonio Banderas) is a fast-talking defense lawyer, one of those so busy dad’s he’s missing out on the important things, like his daughter Olivia’s (Lillian Blankenship) talent show competition (her room is literally full of teddy bears with apology notes for all the times he’s let work keep him away). However, after his wife Sue (Cristina Serafini) and Olivia are ruthlessly murdered, he devolves into a pit of despair and allows himself to be punished with alcohol and underground steel cage matches until he begins to poke around where he shouldn’t, getting the attention of the Russian mafia. He eventually comes to protect a nurse named Sheila (Paz Vega) who supplies said mafia them with prescription drugs. Finding inspiration in ancient meditation (in a book he discovers with all the subtlety of a train wreck), he re-tunes his energy, and sets out to find his family’s killer.
I know you what you’re thinking, and yes you’re right. That all sounds very familiar. This is a movie built out of old blocks and exists only to use them again, not repurpose them. Things happen with very deliberate prescriptiveness, moving us along without much need for character development or layered motivation. In minutes, we learn the only things we need to about Frank, that he’s made a career out of getting slimeballs out of jail and neglecting his wife and daughter, basically the screenwriter’s erector set of a man on a redemptive mission story. All that happens next is to give him opportunities to grow, which in movies like this means fighting. Lots and lots of fighting.
Florentine, who shows up briefly as a martial arts instructor and has made a career of making high-energy flicks, does one bit more than the rest though, giving the story a kind of superhero mentality, an origin story of sorts as Frank becomes imbued with what can only be described as special powers. Taking a vow of silence, Frank’s hearing becomes more acute, with only a look he can turn a vicious dog to his side. He can take down throngs of much younger and bigger men. Florentine embraces the clichés of the genre with great purpose, presenting a kind of reductive action thriller that aims squarely to viscerally entertain rather than challenge. Breaking it up into chapters, giving Banderas narration, and plotting it out with big bold characters, it’s not surprising how things turn up. Nor is it intended to be, including the ‘twist’ in the third act that most will (should) see coming well before it does.
With some solid performances though, and Banderas holding his own (again), supported by some great work from Robert Forster and beefed up Karl Urban, Acts of Vengeance might not be anything new, yet is nonetheless a pretty engaging film for what it is. Florentine knows action and stages some good beat ’em ups and even a few tender moments along the way. It celebrates tropes with an almost pathological obsession, and will gleefully join the numerous others in the ranks, offering a bit of mindless fun before getting replaced by another.
Acts Of Vengeance Review
Movie description: Acts of Vengeance is a 2017 action film about a fast-talking lawyer who transforms his body and takes a vow of silence, not to be broken until he finds out who killed his wife and daughter and has his revenge.
Director(s): Isaac Florentine
Actor(s): Antonio Banderas, Cristina Serafini, Karl Urban