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Review Acts of Vengeance (2017): Not John Wick, not Taken nor Death Wish but something else!

genre: drama, crime, action

What do I mean with something else? Well, Acts of Vengeance is hardly the action revenge flick as it is advertised. There is action and revenge in it but not nearly as much as one would hope. Especially considering the fact that Isaac Florentine is specialised in making stylish and hard hitting action films. Acts of Vengeance is more a tale about loss and grief.

In particular how main character Frank Valera played by Antonio Banderas is dealing with his grief. First he blames himself but then by coincidence comes across a book called Meditations written by Marcus Aurelius. This book contains his personal notes on stoic philosophy which in essence is about not allowing yourself to be controlled by desire for pleasure or fear of pain but using your mind to understand the world and then to try to find a way to do your part and treating others in a fair and just manner. I am not entirely sure if Frank's understanding of the book rhymes with what the stoic philosophy is referring to but it does change his view on the guilt that he is feeling and that he has to punish the perpetrator of the crime committed against his wife and daughter. This is the moment he starts training and preparing himself for the tough battles that he will have to face. Problem is that there aren't that many. The few that are in the film are choreographed well and like often it makes Banderas look like he is capable and therefore believable. But it just makes you wanting more of Banderas kicking ass and this simply isn't that kind of movie. Another thing that Frank takes from the book is a vow of silence. I am not going to lie while I understood the principle it was a little bit hard to take that seriously at first especially since Frank never really tells people why he is not speaking. Still I managed to accept his silence since Banderas made me to. His sincere and earnest approach to the character made me buy it. Although I am not convinced that not speaking for a short time suddenly makes you a good listener like Frank is claiming. Another thing I was willing to buy since it did make Banderas look like a samurai warrior or ninja who was aware of his surroundings.

For some reason Paz Vega is in this film as well and while not annoying she easily could have been left out of the film. To be clear this is not her fault. She does her best with the little she has gotten but I do blame Isaac Florentine for not using Vega to her full potential. Same could be said of Karl Urban. His character could have been played by everyone and it would have hardly made a difference. It does make me wonder if they have cut out the more substantial stuff or that this truly was the final product as intended.

Surprisingly I enjoyed this film and it's a good example of what one can do to keep overused themes fresh. But I was a little disappointed to not get the non stop action that was promised. Antonio Banderas really makes it look good and I hope he keeps pursuing these kinds of roles and genres. Although I do wish he gets to do it in AAA titles like he deserves.

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