6 May 2018



'The best revenge is to be unlike your enemy.'
Marcus Aurelius' MEDITATIONS.

This is a plot you'll have seen many times before, the man-avenges-himself-on-the-killers-of-his-wife-and-child plot. Chances are that this will be the silliest take on it you'll have witnessed thus far, though. It is a ridiculously silly film, but I still kind of enjoyed it, in a guilty-pleasures kind of way.

Let me walk you through the storyline and you guys can make up your own minds. While being heavily influenced by my own good self, of course, lol. I'm not doing this just for the good of my health, you know.

Okay, so Antonio Banderas plays a celebrity lawyer here called Frank Valera, the kind of guy who gets guilty people off the hook if they have a few bucks to their name, if you know what I mean. He's doing pretty well out of the business materially anyway.

He has a fabulous house, a trophy wife and a daughter who's an Identikit version of every kid you'll see playing a rich guy's annoying offspring in Hollywood movies. Long straight hair, a mopey face, a whiny voice and a sense of the privileged kid's entitlement. And that could just as equally apply to the boys as to the girls...

Anyway, Frank is the kind of father that Arnold Schwarzenegger plays in Crimbo flick JINGLE ALL THE WAY. He loves his wife Susan and the kid Isabella but he's so frantically busy with work that he hardly ever gets to see 'em. He works solely to provide for them all the trappings of a rich person's lifestyle but the downside of that is that he misses out on most of family life.

As a result, his daughter Isabella has a bedroom full of 'I'm Sorry' teddy bears and cuddly toys. In ACTS OF VENGEANCE, we see Frank missing the school talent show. The school is so rich that they can apparently afford to rent a proper theatre for their crappy little show.

This is one recital that Frank will forever regret missing, and it's not because of Isabella's flat-as-a-pancake, tone-deaf rendition of 'Dream,' either. On the way home from the concert, Susan and Isabella are brutally murdered by an unknown assailant- or assailants- and their broken bodies tossed down a storm drain. It's the kind of grim and grisly end that no-one deserves.

Frank is devastated. He takes to the bottle and also, rather unbelievably, to getting the shit kicked out of him while drunk at underground bare-knuckle fights. Or Mixed Martial Arts, as they're calling it nowadays. That only glamorises it though, surely. It's still just two guys beating the living tar out of each other in front of a bloodthirsty audience. I personally don't see the merit in it at all, but whatevs, that's just my own humble opinion.

Anyway, one day, a totally accidental glimpse of the learned writings of one Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher and a sort of Sun Tzu (THE ART OF WAR) for the Roman Empire days, makes Frank realise that he's been punishing himself when the ones he should be punishing are the ones 'who have committed the crime...'

It gets a bit silly from here. Frank swears to become as fit as a flea physically as strength will give him power over his enemies. He also thankfully decides to take a Trappist-monk-like vow of silence. He won't speak a single word till the killer or killers of his family is/are brought to justice. He'll be just like the monks of old. Silent as the grave, and the grave is pretty damn silent.

This is a blessed relief for the viewer as his closed-mouthed mumbling of his lines is just too hard to take. I didn't understand a word he said in the whole film, and you can't even see his eyes either for much of the time as they're covered with the sunglasses which tell us he's 'cool.'

His vow of silence and new fitness programme lead him to become a dog-whisperer, an expert 'hearer' and a kick-ass beater-upper of random Russian Mafia thugs who, as it turns out, are f**k-all to do with his family's dreadful execution. The process that leads him to the killer(s) is a matter of extreme confusion and bewilderment for the viewer.

Like, how did he know to beat up that guy in the restaurant kitchen? How does he know that this guy might have been a witness to the murders? And what's the betting that this cook fella won't just sweep up those scattered frozen chips and dump 'em straight back in the fryer? Anyone crazy enough to eat at this dirty diner will be getting floor-food for the rest of the day. Tsk tsk, disgusting.

And what about Alma, the little nurse who patches up Frank's wounds after he single-handedly despatches the Russian Mafia and, um, steals their dog? She's having a problem with local drug-dealers that is never properly dealt with or wrapped up in the film.

Unless that one hiding that Zorro, I mean Frank, gives 'em is enough to send 'em into retreat with their tales between their legs? I mean, that's not really like thuggish drug-dealers, is it? Would they give up a chance of getting free hospital drugs from their little nurse victim after only one minor setback? 

Are they normally so acquiescent? I don't know, never having any known any drug-dealers. From what I've heard, though, they're not normally so defeatist. Someone tells 'em to bugger off and they're all, like, sorry mate, we'll go, we never meant to inconvenience anyone, y'all have a good day now...?

What I do know is that Alma, an impoverished little nursie and volunteer care-worker, must be wetting herself in excitement at having gotten her feet under the table at Frank's palatial gaff with the magnificent garden.

Widowed now, no ties, a fabulous big house and pots of money, and he's good-looking too, if you like that kind of thing, and, as an unexpected bonus, doesn't speak a dicky-bird into the bargain. Boy, has Alma fallen on her sensibly-shod feet with this one...! She'll dig her claws in if she's any sense and not let go.

And how does a vow of silence work in the real world anyway? I suppose you could order and pay for your groceries and pizzas online but there are still many instances in which a person might be required to speak. What if a friend phones up for a nice chat, for example?

I suppose, though, that Frank would have sent his mates out some kind of vow-of-silence notification cards. You know, like the change-of-address cards you can get from the Post Office. That way, when friends answer the phone and all they hear is someone breathing, they can just say: 'Oh hi Frank, it's yourself, how are you? Any word yet on the guy who killed the wife and kid...?' Snigger. I'm just being mean now.

Karl Urban, that delicious hunk of manhood from THE LORD OF THE RINGS and, more recently, THOR: RAGNAROK, is almost as irritatingly mumbly as Antonio Banderas here as Frank's cop friend Hank Strode. He's a man who might just have a guilty secret or two up his sleeve.

Phwoaaaaaar. The sight of him in his snug-fitting uniform and gun-belt set my heights a-wuthering big-time and they haven't stopped wuthering yet, haha. What is it about a big burly cop that gets a woman so hot? All that lovely testosteroney masculinity mingled with the air of authority, no doubt.

Why do hot guys always have to bloody well mumble, though? I think Hollywood directors think that a big burly bearded tattooed hero has to have a deep raspy voice to go with his ultra-manly appearance.

Hence the mumbling, where you talk in a gruff manly whisper while barely opening your mouth and thereby looking like you're auditioning for a part as a ventriloquist in a movie about an evil dummy. Don't steal my idea, by the way. That evil dummy screenplay idea's gonna make me a nice retirement plan in my old age.

ACTS OF VENGEANCE has lots of silly, far-fetched scenes in it and more than a few plotholes but I still enjoyed it. I can't really explain it, it's just the way it is. The lack of subtitles means that you likely won't understand a word of Antonio Banderas's quiet, mumbled dialogue but the film is still nice to look at.

Although that teenage prostitute needs to get herself to an acting class, fast, if she's to progress up the Hollywood ladder. Okay, right lads, pass that collection plate around, and don't be stingy with the greenbacks. The future of movies may just depend on it...

VOD and EST: 23rd April, 2018.
DVD and BLU-RAY: 7th May, 2018.


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


You can contact Sandra at:



No comments:

Post a comment