Saturday, February 3, 2018

Movie Reviews: Acts of Violence

Acts of Violence
directed by Brett Donowho
I try to handle it without violence being involved but sometimes that's the only way these problems are solved -2 Black 2 Strong MMG
Acts of Violence is a low budget mashup of any number of classic thriller and action movies, including but not limited to Death Wish, The Searchers, The Sons of Katie Elder, Four Brothers, and almost every seventies or eighties Golan-Globus production. The film lacks glossy production values, though as it's set in Cleveland, that's probably on purpose to try to increase the verisimilitude.

Acts of Violence has a strong made-for-tv/direct to video feel. Certain themes repeat themselves throughout human stories and history. Men of a different tribe kidnap a woman, presumably for nefarious purposes. The husband, relatives and other friends of the kidnapped woman decide that they aren't going to take that kind of thing lying down and rustle up a posse/army to go rescue the kidnapped maiden or failing that, deliver some righteous vengeance. This stuff is at least as old as The Iliad, which describes the war between the Greeks and Trojans caused by the Trojan prince's kidnap, or was it seduction, of a Greek Queen. And likely 3000 years from now there will still be humans telling stories that use this trope.
In The Iliad, the Greeks' greatest warrior Achilles, sulks in his tent and refuses to fight because the Greek high king Agamemnon, forced to return a female hostage/slave, took Achilles' female captive for his own. Without Achilles the Greeks come close to losing the war. It's only when Achilles' best friend (?)/cousin (?)/lover(?) Patroclus is killed that Achilles is inspired to return to the battlefield and do what he does best.

In this movie the warrior suffering from self-pity and lack of purpose is Deklan MacGregor (Cole Hauser), a veteran who's experiencing depression and PTSD deriving from his combat tours in  Afghanistan and Iraq. Deklan doesn't have much good to say to most people. He likes to drink and brood, brood and drink. But things are looking up. Deklan has returned home to Cleveland to celebrate his youngest brother's Roman's (Ashton Holmes) marriage. The middle brother Brandon (Shawn Ashmore), also a vet, is happily married to his wife Jessa (Tiffany Brouwer). So little brother Roman has decided to tie the knot with a girl all three brothers grew up with, the feisty and tomboyish Mia (Melissa Bolona). Mia is not afraid of antagonizing Deklan, one of only a few people who can make that claim. 

Meanwhile a tired looking Detective Avery (Bruce Willis) is chasing a shadowy crime boss known as Max (Mike Epps). It's always one step forward, two steps back with Avery. Avery knows that Max is responsible for a lot of the human trafficking and narcotics in the Cleveland area. But Max is too savvy and too politically connected for Avery to touch. Max can even buy police officers.
At her bachelorette party Mia defiantly declines the advances of two dumb thugs who work for Max. Not being men who take no for an answer they kidnap her with the plan of eventually drugging and brutalizing her to become a compliant whore. But the MacGregor brothers go looking for Mia. Deklan finally has a purpose, one which nothing on earth, not the police, not concerns of morality or safety, and certainly not any gangsters, will stop him from fulfilling. This movie was riddled with cliches which you've seen used to better results elsewhere. However it was short. It did not overstay its welcome. Bruce Willis is like a police version of Willy Wonka telling disobedient kids "No. Stop. Don't." in a exquisitely bored voice. This is not a Bruce Willis movie. I wouldn't say it's a cameo role but it's barely more than that. There is some toplessness and plenty of bullets.  

The movie resists making the good guys superheroes. They pay a price for taking the law into their hands. But when they have doubts all they just look at the picture of their deceased war hero father and ask themselves "What would the Old Man do in a situation like this?" This was a generic film. Don't expect more. I didn't.
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