Acts Of Vengeance, 2017.
Directed by Isaac Florentine.
Starring Antonio Banderas, Karl Urban, Paz Vega, and Robert Forster.
A fast-talking lawyer 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.
Looking at the cast list and director for Acts Of Vengeance will certainly make action aficionados pay close attention. Antonio Banderas continues his pretty prolific run of straight to video action specials, in what (on paper) you’d expect to be one of his better entries. Co-starring is Karl Urban (oh please oh please, lets have another Dredd). Then behind the camera is action specialist Isaac Florentine, a man responsible for the first two Undisputed sequels (and with a significant hand in the last one too) as well as a couple of solid Ninja films starring Scott Adkins. Florentine has gathered a reputation as one of those guys who know how to do action, particularly fight sequences.
So, we go into Acts Of Vengeance with fairly solid expectations. Banderas stars as a fast talking lawyer who neglects his wife and daughter for work. When they’re brutally murdered he takes a vow of silence until the moment he finds the person responsible and gets revenge. It’s standard stuff yes. The notion of the vow of silence could have been a more interesting point if Frank’s lack of dialogue weren’t replaced by slightly clunky narration. Narration is one of the hardest things to do in film because it has to offer something interesting and not become a convenience. When it becomes a crutch or a plot propellant then you’ve got issues. Needless to say, writer Matt Venne’s narration fills in gaps that need feeling, but moreover (as is a major pitfall with narration) gaps which don’t. Too much of the work and interpretation is grabbed away from the audience. Although perhaps there’s always an expectation with these sort of video action specials that the audience isn’t really going to look to work too hard or dig beneath the surface.
The cast are solid. Everything is pretty much to standard archetypes. This doesn’t push Tonio Banderas. As an action man in his mid-50’s we’ve reached a stage where he doesn’t quite have the spark he did back in his heyday. Whether good guy or bad, in his action films of the mid-90’s, where he really was one of the more interesting stars breaking through in that genre, he had such a powerful energy and charisma. Whether it’s partly age who knows, but certainly, as far as the characters he plays too, it’s all dialled down. There’s no edge. There’s no fire or ferocity. Working from more mediocre material certainly plays a part, being a star on the wane rather the rise also, but even here, playing a man driven by a desire for revenge, he’s surprisingly flat and lacking in edge. I mean his performance is fine. He’s a good actor, but Banderas can do this in his sleep and at times it feels like he’s bordering on doing so. Urban is decent. He’s someone I feel could be having a more significant impact on the action genre, and he’s still in his prime.
The action is very good. One aspect where Banderas shines is here. The martial arts action is always going to be good under Florentine (with help from fight choreographer Tim Man here). Banderas handles the fight scenes superbly. There’s some excellent action here, but if you look in comparison to Ninja: Shadow of a Tear, or any of the Undisputed sequels (and inevitably action fans will compare), there’s not much action here. Ultimately this is where the film falls a little flat. It’s a lithe 90 minutes but there’s a big sagging middle in need of a couple of extra set pieces. The score was really good though.
Acts of Vengeance is a solid action film. It’s well made with good action but a flat script and stilted pace make this one ultimately forgettable. Banderas too has been far better, even in VOD (Security was better as far as his performance). There’s most certainly enough here to recommend.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★