Acts of Vengeance Blu-ray Review
A Quiet Death Wish
Movies reviewSRP: £9.99
Antonio Banderas's clunky and contrived attempt to get in on some Neeson/Taken action sees him take a vow of silence to complicate an otherwise straightforward revenger.There's little new to the plotting in Acts of Vengeance, as you can probably guess from the painfully generic title (not to be confused with this year's Acts of Violence, with Bruce Willis), another rather obvious attempt by a middle-aged Banderas to cash in on the Liam Neeson-style Taken action thrillers (particularly given Neeson's reported exit with The Commuter) after a succession of actioners which kick-started with the admittedly fun little Security. The plot has Banderas playing a lawyer whose life is torn apart when he loses his family to thugs, and who sets about tracking them down when the police lose interest. Although there are some nice ideas - including a brief foray into underground MMA whilst his character punishes himself for the guilt he feels - Acts of Vengeance is too constrained by its own contrived rules to accept its potential as an unpretentious revenge action thriller.With meagre support from the likes of Dredd's Karl Urban and the ever-reliable Robert Forster (who appears to be following Banderas around after Automata), who are simply not given enough screentime, as well as Paz Vega (Spanglish, The OA), Banderas's biggest obstacle is a terrible plot contrivance that sees his character compelled to take a vow of silence while he hunts the killers. Unfortunately it doesn't stop a meandering monologue and only leads to awkward situations, particularly with Vega's welcoming nurse. The fight scenes are competent - as you'd only expect from DTV action maestro Isaac Florentine (the Undisputed sequels and Ninja series - basically anything with Scott Adkins) - but the film lacks the efficiency or polish of even the more average Neeson outings, and the fun and lack of pretentiousness that Security - Banderas's first twilight action outing - carried.
Picture QualityActs of Vengeance comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, who deliver a solid 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen.
A technically efficient video presentation.
Whilst there's nothing really technically wrong with Acts of Vengeance, the digitally shot production looks extremely digital, which at times puts it in almost TV production territory, lacking any kind of distinctive visual style to distinguish it. Detail is admittedly impressive, lapping up skin textures, hair and clothing nuances, and background minutiae, retaining clarity throughout the piece, whilst the colour scheme is relatively natural and healthy enough (but for in some heavily stylised flashbacks which produce all manner of odd effects, particularly when it comes to red brake lights) with decent skin tones and rich black levels affording the feature a solid backdrop. It's a technically efficient video presentation, but nobody is going to regard it as demo.
Sound QualityAn energetic little track.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also technically efficient, and perhaps more effective at delivering the goods than the video presentation as it benefits from a more enthusiastic design. Unfortunately the film's just not as busy as you would expect, leaving large swathes of pedestrian ambience. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout - for a film with a self-imposed mute for a protagonist, there's more than enough expositionary monologue from him to redress the imbalance - offered up across the frontal array, whilst effects are well-observed (occasionally even exceptionally so, as the film dips into Daredevil territory briefly when the lead character starts to become randomly attuned to every little sound) and keenly embraced by the surrounds. The action sequences peppered throughout the piece afford some more conventional bombast, with a few painful MMA-style fight sequences where the body blows land home, and gunshots ring out across the array, with the generic score finding plenty to get excited about even if the film doesn't always keep up. It's an occasionally energetic little track that just doesn't have enough fuel for the fire to make for demo material either.
ExtrasNothing but a few previews on startup and a Trailer for the main feature.
VerdictSince last year's Security, Banderas appears intent on doing a Neeson.
Now pushing 60, it's clear that Antonio Banderas - who enjoyed his golden era back in the nineties - is intent upon getting back in the Hollywood business one way or another. After a lull in the noughties, he returned to form with the Spanish Pedro Almodovar psycho-drama, The Skin I Live In, and then delivered the low budget sci-fi gem Automata, giving the impression that he might have something different to offer, but since last year's surprisingly fun actioner Security he appears intent on doing a Neeson with his career, following it up with the action-comedy misfire Gun Shy, the Reservoir Dogs-lite crime drama Bullet Head, and now this. Anybody interested in checking out any of them would be advised to go the Netflix route first, as Acts of Vengeance, Security and Bullet Head are all available there.
Kaleidoscope's UK Blu-ray release is arguably a little bit late to the party, but does afford those without Netflix - or those ardent fans who feel this is a title that needs to be owned - decent enough video and audio, and can be picked up at a very affordable price.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9.99
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