Bullet Points: Acts of Vengeance
These last few weeks have been pretty wild in the good old filmmaking world of Hollywood. That bag of shit Harvey Weinstein finally got outed as the monster that he is, Kevin Spacey’s double life as a pedophile came to light, and Antonio Banderas released his fifth movie of the year. Now some of those may not have garnered the attention of the others but if you had looked into your crystal ball and predicted that all three of those would happen in the year 2017 then I would have told you that Banderas coming out with five movies would have been the least likely to happen. All of those phonies in Hollyweird will feign surprise that their friends have been doing some horrible shit “behind their backs” but instead of focusing on the terrible news from the movie world let’s instead take a little peek at the latest and greatest of Antonio Banderas circa 2017. Let’s look at Acts of Vengeance.
Synopsis: 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.
- What’s in a name?: Despite what some people might tell you, judging a book by its cover isn’t always a bad idea. Neither is judging a movie by its title. It’s not the best way to go, of course. You’re better off reading one of the many wonderfully written reviews here at Bulletproofaction.com but any movie starring a favorite of mine and containing the word “vengeance” in the title, is guaranteed to at least get a second look from me.
- Chapters: Acts of Vengeance is a story that is told in separate chapters. Each one follows the progression of Frank Valera’s (Antonio Banderas) character as his acts lead him closer and closer to the vengeance that he so clearly desires. The movie opens in chapter 4, showing us a Valera who is in full pissed off and badass mode attacking a guy at a café. We don’t have any idea why he’s going after the poor man slaving over a greasy pit of french fries but the movie quickly jumps back to the first chapter to give us a little more normalcy in terms of storytelling.
- Bad news: Frank Valera’ busy life is suddenly interrupted by the murder of his wife and daughter. It’s a seriously shitty thing to happen to Frank and he falls into a deep depression full of drinking and bare-knuckled fights with random guys. He basically turns into me from my junior year in college (minus all the frozen pizzas). Somehow Frank finds his way into a world of underground cage fighting like he’s in a Don “The Dragon” Wilson movie from 1993 and starts getting his clock cleaned on a daily basis.
- Officer Urban: Fan favorite Karl Urban appears from out of nowhere as a random police officer and we as the viewers are somehow expected to not think he’s in for a much bigger role. He attempts to help Valera, seeing that he’s in a pretty bad spot and we learn that Urban has also been mixing it up in the same underground fighting bouts that Frank had found.
- Let’s train: Like any man who has suddenly realized that he needs to make a change, the most efficient way for Frank Valera to make a turn in his quest to find the killer of his family is to have himself a good old training montage. We see Frank learning to fight from a few different martial arts instructors and it only takes a few minutes for him to master everything and win against the very men who were instructing him. Aren’t montages great!
- The best revenge: Frank starts living his life by a book that he finds written by noted Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius (old dude in Gladiator too!) and basically turns in the Marvel superhero DareDevil. He takes a vow of silence until his goal of finding his family’s killer is met and spends the rest of the movie either narrating (which kinda kills the gimmick) or just not talking to anyone. It might not be the best way to get information from potential witnesses but it makes his other senses super sharp and he starts laying out beat downs at a rapid pace. All in all, Frank collides with the killer and director Isaac Florentine does what he does best; make a sweet ass fight scene.
No need to avenge anything, read these Bonus Bullet Points instead:
- Robert Forster makes a brief appearance as Antonio’s father in law. It reminded me that Robert Forster has looked old for the past 50 years. Also, he could probably still kick most people’s asses.
- Every training montage in a movie like this should just end with him shopping for a leather jacket. You can’t avenge something this serious without a good leather jacket and I really want more of an origin story for my leather jackets.
- Why do men who get hurt as much as Frank Valera have such good luck? I don’t mean that his family dying is good luck, but after he starts getting stabbed and shot up he runs into a do-gooding ER nurse who just falls for him so hard that she patches him up and sticks by his side. Like I said….DareDevil.
- From the start of the movie till the back tracking to the beginning, the movie only jumps back 1 year. That means that he becomes a total badass and kicks his martial arts instructors asses in just a few months.
The Verdict: I really liked Acts of Vengeance. It isn’t groundbreaking work, by any means, but it has plenty of action directed by Isaac Florentine (one of the best in the biz) and Antonio is always good. Karl Urban adds a touch of class to a movie that essentially only has one big name and while the story isn’t that thought provoking, it allows for a tidy ending once Valera finally figures it all out. Simple, good action, and a short runtime all make this movie a strong addition to the growing list of Antonio Banderas’ busy year.