Crime and revenge go together like peas in a pod, and upon first glance Avengement seems like another dime a dozen flick to meld those elements. Headlined by Scott Adkins and directed and co-written by Jesse V. Johnson, Avengement takes its story to a refreshingly different stratosphere.
Hardened convict Cain Burgess (Scott Adkins) gets a few hours out of prison to visit his dying mother, but in the process he escapes his handlers (in brutal fashion) and travels to a hole in the wall pub to meet a group of fellow criminals. With bloodlust and revenge on his mind, Cain takes these men hostage and recounts his harrowing journey to the dark side.
Adkins and filmmaker Jesse V. Johnson’s collaborations include the recent features Triple Threat and Accident Man, and with Avengement the pair continue to craft eye catching and bone crunching action scenes. On a purely surface level, watching Adkins rain down holy hell on his enemies makes any feature worth watching, but this aesthetic may end up being empty calories for action fans wanting a bit more cinematic food on the plate.
Avengement, to my utter surprise, succeeds as a visceral actioner while also throwing in a bit of drama into the mix. Cain’s killer attitude, while not forgivable, originates from a horrible set of circumstances and one ultimate betrayal. Adkins and Craig Fairbass (as Lincoln’s crime boss brother) deliver solid work in the feature, and watching their deadly brotherly dynamic gradually combust is one of the film’s many highlights.
Click on the media bar to hear director Jesse V. Johnson talk about his successful partnership with Scott Adkins:
Most of the propulsive butt kicking comes during Cain’s time in prison, and that tension is raised as he attempts to hold court at the bar in what seems to be a suicide mission. Though most of the film is told in flashback, this device, thanks to the skillful cinematic execution from Johnson and Adkins’ tough as nails portrayal, doesn’t serve as a lazy, storytelling crutch.
To give further plot details behind Avengement would ruin the joy in discovering Cain’s surprisingly nuanced thought process on retribution, but the bottom line is there is much more substance behind what seems to be a routine actioner.
One would assume Johnson and Adkins will collaborate on more films down the road, and some of the emotional scars that surface in Avengement may point to even deeper work down the road between the two. Until then, we have Avengement, and that is definitely worth the price of admission.
Rating: 4 out 5