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Review: Acts of Vengeance

Acts of Vengeance
10.25.2017
2 10

PLOT: A successful defense attorney takes a vow of silence and physically transforms himself in order to go after the people that killed his wife and daughter.

REVIEW: If you want to know about the latest action flick starring Antonio Banderas, I’d be willing to bet you could figure out the entire sequencing of events by looking at the IMDb page.  It’s THAT predictable. This revenge thriller is filled with action flick cliches, mediocre direction, a dumb and obvious script and less-than-stellar performances. ACTS OF VENGEANCE is exactly the movie it looked to be, a bland VOD flick that is about as dull of a watch as you can get. And one of the most bizarre aspects of it? It all revolves around some self help book he uses to cover up a stab wound after a violent attack. Suddenly, the whole revenge aspect carries over into what appears to be a book commercial - and no, I’m not talking about the Acts of Vengeance Marvel comics cross over.

You’ve seen all of this before repeatedly. When we first meet Frank Valera (Banderas), he has already lost everything. He stops at a diner not speaking a word, and then his reason to be there is revealed. We then learn through voice over that this is not the beginning, and we are transported to where it all began. And frankly, for a guy taking a vow of silence, Banderas' voice over is used way too often. One of the most powerful ways a revenge drama can work is to really show how wonderful and amazing someone’s life was before tragedy. While we do get a glimpse at his happy home, it all feels like an afterthought. The wife (Cristina Serafini) and daughter (Lillian Blankenship) are throwaway roles, thus their ultimate demise doesn’t even register. Hell, I didn’t care all that much about Frank Valera himself so it was hard to get on board with his need for silent vengeance.

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Let’s talk about the script. With credit given to Matt Venne (MIRRORS 2, WHITE NOISE 2: THE LIGHT and 2013’s FRIGHT NIGHT 2), this is perhaps one of the biggest problems that VENGEANCE has. This is just lazy. If someone ever feels the need for revenge, they best hope that they have the luck that Frank has here. Hell, the dude seems to find just the right people to help solve the “mystery.” Thank goodness a TSA dog just happens to show up and follow this dude around so he can help to catch the killer with the stray puppy and  his gift of smell. What a coincidence! You will see every twist and turn well before they arrive, and I’d be willing to bet that you can figure out the who and the why within minutes. From his transformation into a killing machine through illegal boxing matches, to the lovely Paz Vega who shows up and joins forces with Frank. There is nothing fresh or interesting here.

You’d think pairing Karl Urban and Antonio Banderas might at least be interesting. However, it is not. Banderas works with what he is given, and still manages to be slightly charismatic but the material sure didn’t help. As for Urban, the actor also manages to add a little charm to the cop investigating the murders. Both actors are surrounded by bad to merely satisfactory performances, and a script that has no interest in challenging its audience. Both actors deserve better. There is not a single moment of suspense here and it all drags horribly. Even with a short running time, ACTS OF VENGEANCE takes forever to get to its unsatisfying ending.

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Directed by Isaac Florentine - who seems to specialize in low budget action flicks - doesn’t give us much to enjoy either. The fight sequences are boring, the characters rely on stereotypes and the plot reveals are lame. Visually there is nothing special about his work. Is it competent? Well, sure, but it’s not entertaining. One of the biggest problems is that he hardly sets up the entire reason why Frank is seeking revenge. There is not a single moment that you actual feel anything for anybody involved. The last image Frank has of his daughter's performance at a talent show even feels like it was a missed opportunity to create some kind of emotion. It’s all just an empty display.

We’ve been seeing a ton of one time superstars appearing in straight-to-video action flicks, and this isn’t a good example of it. Antonio Banderas is fine, and he isn’t really the problem. The same can be said for Urban. ACTS OF VENGEANCE wants to be JOHN WICK, but it lacks the energy and creativity to make it work. All we get is a cheap revenge drama that you may not even stick with if you catch it on Netflix. The only ACT I suggest when it comes to this uneventful movie watching experience is to watch something else.

 

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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