Review by Mark Merrell
Steve McQueen as Frank Bullitt. Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan. Antonio Banderas personifies them both, in the new action packed triller/drama, Acts Of Vengeance.
Frank Valera (Antonio Banderas, Desperado, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Machete Kills) is a very successful lawyer, working in a large firm. He’s married to Susan (Cristina Serafini, IL Divo, Good & Evil, Cuzzillo’s No End), a loving wife. They also have a young daughter, Olivia (Lillian Blankenship, Day Of The Dead, Security, Loving Pablo).
The movie opens on a busy city street. Frank drives up, and parks his car. He heads into a restaurant. Once inside, he says nothing. He sits at a table. The waitress asks if he wants coffee. Replying with an accepting head nod, she pours him a cup. Frank looks around the room, zoning in on different people.
He hears a man coughing in the kitchen, and runs in. Frank starts confronting the man known as, Shivers (Clint Dyer, Sus, Unknown, Mine). They start fighting. As Frank gets the upper hand, the picture freezes, as Frank laments how ho got to this point. The film retro’s back to the previous year. We see Frank busy at work in his office, talking with his partners, but the voice we hear is Frank’s inner dialogue. He explains how during the course of a day, he uses 80,000 words. The scene shifts to his home. Frank explains that the only words that matter are three; I love you, as we see him interacting with his daughter and wife lovingly.
The next day, his daughter is set to preform in a talent show. His wife is there, and they call him at work, asking if Frank will make it in time. He promises he will, but ends up arriving just after the talent show wraps up. He heads home, waiting for Susan and Olivia to join him. The evening becomes night. The rain continues to fall as it was earlier. Hours pass, until there is a knock at the door. The police ask Frank to come with them. They arrive near an abandoned warehouse. In a ravine, holding each other, are his wife and child, murdered. Frank Is devastated, completely distraught. His father in law, Chuck (Robert Forster, Jackie Brown, Mulholland Dr, London Has Fallen) hates Frank, primarily due to his practice as a lawyer, helping criminals escape justice, telling him this and more at the funeral.
Frank roams their huge empty home. Each room is filled with memories of Olivia and Susan. The police seem to have few leads. Frustrated, he heads to a bar. After a plethora of shots, he notices several guys heading towards the back. Curious, he follows them, finding a cage match fighting ring. Frank purposely gets in trouble, resulting in him taking an unrelenting beating. He’s punishing himself, feeling responsible somehow for the loss of his daughter and wife.
Frank keeps repeating this behavior, summarily taking a beating again and again. He’s helped once by police officer, Strode (Karl Urban, Star Trek, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Dredd, The Bourne Supremacy) that he’s seen at the station on occasion while getting updates on his family’s murder case. During another fight night, Frank heads into the street to leave, and a very young girl propositions him. Shocked, and thinking of his daughter, he try’s to help her. Unfortunately, her pimp steps in. Frank had learned some moves, and he takes down the pimp, knocking his knife away. The girl ends up stabbing Frank in the thigh, as he falls through a huge storefront window. He picks up a book, holding it in his wound to stop the bleeding. It’s Marcus Aurelius, “Mediation.”
Frank heads home. He reads the book, finding solace and wisdom. He decides to get himself straightened out. His garage becomes a gym. He takes Karate. He takes a vow of silence, following the lessons of his newly found book of inspiration. He decides to punish those that killed his family, instead of himself, and that’s when the movie cranks it up to another level, with Frank’s detective, and honed physical skills.
Directed by Issac Florentine (Ninja, Undisputed (2), Close Range), he skillfully paces, Acts Of Vengeance. All of the actors give a very solid performance. The focus is, of course, Banderas, and he absolutely delivers. From his look and demeanor, he personifies a Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood feel, look, and edginess. I really enjoyed this movie. Not a Kill-Fest, as we have seen in other films recently, the movie is smart, very entertaining, interesting, packed with thrills and action. As with any great form of entertainment, they leave us wanting more.
“To expect bad men not to do wrong is madnesses,” according to Marcus Aurelius, in, “Mediation.” I certainly hope Banderas as Frank Valera will be back to serve justice again, to those, very bad men.