Throw in Antonio Banderas into a B-level movie (Bullet Head,Black Butterfly, Security) and it’s an automatic upscale for me. I love my fair share of these genre driven material, and the good news is The Enforcer delivers the goods. Co-star Mojean Aria leaves an indelible mark on this narrative as well, and this tight as a drum thriller should be on your radar.
Cuda (Antonio Banderas) is an enforcer for a Miami crime boss named Estelle (Kate Bosworth). The story’s beginning features a bloodied Cuda (fyi he drives a Barricuda) limping towards a fading sunset, presumably on his last few breaths. We are assuming he is not long for this world, so The Enforcer’s biggest challenge is to get us invested for a story mainly told in flashback.
To be fair, Cuda is not dead in a pool like William Holden at the start of Sunset Boulevard, so many things can happen by the end of 90 minutes. Stray (Mojean Aria) is a street fighter in need of money, and his skills are immediately noticed by Estelle. Cuda is tasked with mentoring Stray as an enforcer, and initially Cuda is not too pleased with Stray’s impatience.
Zolee Griggs is a 15-year-old runaway who catches Cuda’s eye, especially since has a daughter (Vivian Milkova) her own age. Feeling a bit paternal to the strranger, he pays for her motel and gives her some dough for living expenses.
The runaway is ultimately kidnapped, and Cuda is determined to find her and exact a bit of violence on her takers. Meanwhile Stray is learning the ropes of the business, and ends up dating one of his new boss’ prized employees (Alexis Ren).
These two subplots ultimately merge when Cuda and Stray solidify their partnership through a fateful and violent situation. Mark Rhino Smith and 2 Chainz have memorable moments in the narrative as a couple of antagonists.
The Enforcer marks the feature directing debut of Richard Hughes, and W. Peter Iliff (Varsity Blues, Under Suspicion) penned the script. Even amidst all the moments of violence and seediness (I won’t spoil one of the movie’s big plot points), Hughes brings a confident and subtle hand to the proceedings. Hughes could have painted with very broad strokes and directed with a very flashy style, so it is refreshing to see that the story’s execution was his main priority.
This is the first time I have noticed Mojean Aria, and he is a young actor to definitely watch. Aria gave me a bit of Aaron Paul vibes from Breaking Bad (of course, that’s a very good thing), and he more than carries his section of the film. I went in assuming this would purely be an Antonio Banderas escapist vehicle, but Aria’s performance (along with solid work from Griggs and Ren), put this movie on an entirely different level.
Listen to Eric Holmes and Bruce Purkey review The Enforcer on Find Your Film:
I regret not seeing The Enforcer sooner, as I would have been able to talk it out with Find Your Film hosts Bruce Purkey and Eric Holmes. They both gave it 3.5 stars and recommend the movie. I liked it a bit more and have settled on four stars (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️).
A couple of more scenes with Kate Bosworth deliciously chewing the scenery as the big baddie would have been welcome, but overall I appreciated this laser focused, 90 minute crime thriller. The Enforcer is now out in theaters and On Demand. Leave a comment if you see the movie!!