Acts of Violence

2 out of 5

Directed by: Brett Donowho

Pretty straight forward.  The Roger Ebert review of this flick takes it to task for dealing too light of a hand to a couple of heavy topics – PTSD and human trafficking – and I’ll cop to that, as the former is barely referenced in the opening seemingly just to gritty-ground one of the leads (Cole Hauser) and justify him as the trigger-itchin’ brother out of the featured trio, and the latter is, for better or worse, the MacGuffin to send the brothers a’hunting for a kidnapped-for-trafficking fiancee, but… I didn’t feel like the film was trying to make any high-falutin’ statements on these subject matters, and I also didn’t feel like it necessarily played down or up elements irresponsibly, it just doesn’t have a whole lot to say on the subjects.  It’s a DTV film (or a limited release, DTV film; same same); and while that might be the equivalent of saying “boys will be boys,” and while structuring my sentence in this fashion lets you know I’m still in the camp of excusing whatever it is I feel needs excusing, my point is: I didn’t find anything inherently ignorant in the flick, excepting that neither of those plot points was really required.

On an, ahem, less rambly note, while director Donowho didn’t get Bruce to drop his as-of-late deadpan expression (this is the modern era equivalent of his smirk, i.e. a fallback facial tic in lieu of visual acting), he did get the dude to play an actual role in the film, filming scenes with other actors, performing some light stuntwork, reading lines that weren’t just perfunctory, and – deadpan aside – actually earning his paycheck.  That’s not a slight on my man Brucie, but these Grindstone Emmet / Furla flicks have, mostly, been phoned in on his behalf, and while not all of the movies are bad, his contributions have been.  But not here.  Not, by any means, a great performance or anything, but he was awake.

As was I, for 87 minutes of Acts of Violence.  The straight forwardness helps: there are (spoilers) no twists: bad guys are bad guys, good guys are good guys, and once the rescue mission is a go, that’s the direction we continue in.  And it mostly plays fair, accepting that bullets kill and vigilante actions are illegal.  But not putting me to sleep doesn’t absolutely equate to a better than average film, even taking into account the DTV batting average for actioners of this type.