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Review: 'Acts of Violence' offers little else

Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 2:18 PM Central
Last updated Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 3:13 PM Central

by John Couture

When you title your film Acts of Violence, there is little left to the imagination of would-be audience members as to what the film will deliver and yet, a movie needs to have more than just violence, right? Well, in this case, it seems that the filmmakers are testing that theory and the verdict isn't good for Acts of Violence.

The story revolves around a woman who is kidnapped by a local thug intent on entering the human trafficking business. Her fiancé's two ex-military brothers decide to take matters into their own hands when the police seem to be too tied up in red tape to offer any real assistance.

On the surface, the film sounds like it might elevate itself above the dregs of direct-to-video fodder with some moral issues (vigilantism) and a current hot-button issue (human trafficking), but whenever the opportunity arises, the movie veers back to its core (violence). That's not to say that die-hard (see what I did there?) action film devotees won't enjoy it, quite the contrary, Acts of Violence offers a watered-down John Wick experience. Whether that's a good thing or just an homage is something entirely different.

Usual suspect Bruce Willis comes along for the ride playing the part of the "by the book" cop that starts out as a foil to Cole Hauser's older brother. Predictably, it doesn't take long (or much convincing) for Bruce Willis to join the dark side.

As an aside, is it me or is Bruce Willis basically playing the same character these days? He was last seen in theaters playing a vigilante in Death Wish. That film, itself a remake of the 1974 Charles Bronson film of the same name, isn't really much different than Acts of Violence save for the bigger budget. So, it was a bit interesting to see Bruce Willis fain a moral compass for a few scenes before throwing himself down the rabbit hole completely.

But, honestly, did you really expect Bruce to not get a bit dirty before it was all said and done? I think a major issue for the film, at least for me, is that much like everything else in the movie they were too concerned with getting back to the violence and action. The best films in this genre know how to balance the action with plot development. When you fail to take this into account, the result is just a gratuitous throwback to the exploitation films from the 1970s. There's nothing wrong with them per se, but why even introduce human trafficking and give Bruce, if you're going to spend 10 minutes to explore those issues?

In the end, the film had several moments that were completely uneven. This on top of everything else made the watching experience less enjoyable. There's nothing wrong with 90 minutes of wall-to-wall action, just don't expect a certain type of audience to tune in. It's not my cup of tea, but your mileage may vary.

Acts of Violence will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on March 27.