Acts of Vengeance Review
A man walks into a restaurant, he sits down and looks at the menu. He then hears coughing coming from inside the restaurant. Like many people would be, he is not best pleased about a chef with what sounds like a bad cough preparing food so he proceeds to burst into the kitchen, put a broom across the door handles to prevent anyone else getting in and then beats the chef within an inch of his life. The film freezes just as this man, played by Antonio Banderas, starts to strangle the chef with a belt, and a voiceover asks us whether he looks deranged and mad. Currently? Yes, very.
The rest of Acts of Vengeance is told in one long flashback and it is revealed that Frank Valera (Banderas) was an overworked defence lawyer who, due to a heavy workload, missed his daughter's talent show performance. When tragedy strikes, a distraught and broken Frank goes on some odd quest for vengeance and justice.
In the press notes for this release, the writer describes Acts of Vengeance as "gritty, violent, edge of your seat action" with "great action heritage". To which I say, what a load of bunk. Yes, the film may be produced by Avi Lerner the same man who produced The Expendables, as well as Olympus Has Fallen and Rambo, and the main cast including Antonio Banderas and Karl Urban have action experience courtesy of The Mask of Zorro and Desperado to Dredd, The Lord of the Rings and Star Trek. But that does not mean that Acts of Vengeance will automatically be a good film. And in fact, it is not.
Back to quote the press release some more, "The action sequences come thick and fast." This is a straight-up lie, I could count the number of fight scenes on one hand. Through the entire 87-minute run, apart from a brief couple of minutes sequence at the beginning, there is a good hour before we get another short spurt of fighting and then another 20 or so minutes before the "climactic battle" between our hero Antonio Banderas and the villain. It is clear that this film wants to be a film like John Wick, a bloody and bombastic revenge movie, especially if you look at the design of the poster and DVD cover. But it seems to miss the point by not having very much action in there.
This wouldn't have been so bad if we had a decent story and some decent characters to latch onto, but Acts of Vengeance lacks any of those things as well. Our main lead, Frank is a big fat nothing. We have a brief introduction of where Frank starts out though no real indication of who he is, yes he is a lawyer, yes he is overworked and misses important family things, but why, is it a conscious choice or happenstance. Banderas who has proven to be a charismatic lead in other films gives nothing to the role, even turning in some absolutely hilarious drunk acting in the supposedly more dramatic and emotional scenes. To compound things Frank takes a vow of silence about halfway through the movie, but we are not spared his gruff musings of stoicism and the importance of action because we are provided with a voiceover. But again, what does this add other than some spiel about how words can be twisted around and someone telling you what is going on in the film. Frank is probably the most developed character on the screen. Karl Urban is there in the film as a man that looks like a beefed-up Karl Urban and Paz Vega plays a nurse, I really could not tell you anything about the characters or their motivations.
The story itself is painfully slow and filled with poor writing decisions and coincidences. This mainly revolves around Vega's character Alma, who just happens to meet Frank but who she decides to help, but she coincidently is involved in the Russian mob and wants out. There are references in the story to the mob but really it is so poorly integrated into what turns out to be convoluted red herring.
The cinematography is also rather amateur despite the people involved. It is all shot slightly too loosely in a bland, bumped contrast colour grade that screams small budget. This does not help the few action sequences there are because it is a shaky cam movie, so when there is a fight you can't see what is happening because the camera zooms around all over place.
Really there is no point to the film, but there is even less point to the disc. Distributed by Kaleidoscope they do an okay job on the high definition transfer. There are no errors in the digital playback or the audio or video. But where the disc really falls flat is the complete lack of extras. There is a trailer for the film, but I have said before, what disc doesn't these days. So, in essence, you get a worthless movie on a disc that offers nothing beyond it, making this purchase one that you should avoid because if you are a fan of action and you get drawn into the film’s hyperbolic marketing you are going to be sorely disappointed.