Monday, February 5, 2018

Film Review: Acts of Vengeance (2017)

Acts of Vengeance (Review)
United States/2017
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has a decent amount of action, but it's missing heart."

A popular defense attorney searches for the person who killed his wife and daughter in hopes of exacting his revenge.

Acts of Vengeance follows lawyer Frank Valer (Antonio Banderas). While he's at work, breaking a promise to his family, Frank's wife and daughter are murdered and dumped in a hole in a train yard. Frank is devastated by the news and he begins to punish himself, turning into a human punching bag for a local fight club. However, after finding and reading Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, Frank decides to take action. He trains himself into a fighting machine and takes a vow of silence until he finds the person who killed his wife and daughter. That's basically the entire plot. There's no way around it: it's generic. It leads to a predictable ending, too.

You're not going to watch this movie for the plot. If you are, you're going to be very disappointed. The plot is too safe and generic to entertain on its own. I suppose some of it is interesting, like Frank's inspirations and such, but the rest of it is predictable. It checks every mark for the genre, unfortunately. The plot contrivances don't help, either. The fast pace, the short runtime, and the action save this film from utter mediocrity. Okay, the action doesn't match the director's previous efforts, like Undisputed 3, but it is satisfying. I don't really have much else to say. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it.

Antonio Banderas was decent as the leading man. It's a different role for him, but he made it work. (The movie probably would have been better with Scott Adkins, though...) Karl Urban was decent, too, although his screen time was limited. The supporting cast can be hit-or-miss. The film was shot well enough—it didn't look bad. The camerawork was good, too. I don't remember any music, so it was either forgettable. The film was written by Matt Venne and directed by Isaac Florentine. Venne's writing is too safe for its own good. He doesn't take any risks or venture into any uncharted territory. He treads familiar ground in what feels like a copy-and-paste job. You've seen this movie before, just with a different title and different actors. Florentine proves that he can still direct a solid action movie. This isn't his best work, but his direction saved this movie.

Overall, Acts of Vengeance is a decent film. It's competently-made, it's short and fast-paced, and it's often entertaining. On the other hand, it features a generic plot with forgettable characters. It has a decent amount of action, but it's missing heart. There are better modern actions films out there, like The Raid 2 or Boyka: Undisputed. If you've already watched those and you need more action in your life, this is a decent time killer. If you want to experience something new and refreshing, look elsewhere.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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