Movie Review: Avengement

Avengement (2019)

Director: Jesse V. Johnson

Writer: Jesse V. Johnson

Stars: Scott Adkins, Craig Fairbrass, Thomas Turgoose

Streaming on Netflix (as of 10/1/2019)

Avengement, the 2019 crime thriller written and directed by former stuntman Jesse V. Johnson, is brutally violent, swiftly plotted, and magnificently entertaining.  At only four minutes in, the movie’s star Scott Adkins, himself a former stuntman and competitive martial artist, dispatches a pub’s two doormen quickly and without warning.  Incidents of savagery such as this occur in nearly every scene in the film, and while this does appeal particularly to action junkies such as I, the excellent script and star-affirming performance of its lead correspond to transform what would be a cheap and gritty B-movie into a genuinely compelling thrill ride.

The film follows Cain Burgess (Adkins), a character who, through circumstances outside of his control, has become an animal.  His face at the beginning of the movie is covered in burn scars, he has a gash in his cheek and he has silver teeth.  All of these things are the consequence of injuries the viewer watches him sustain in one of the movie’s many flashback sequences.  In the hands of a less confident director, this backwards form of story construction might have rendered the film a narrative mess, but Johnson holds the structure together with aplomb, trusting that his star can keep an audience engrossed without exhausting them.

His star and frequent collaborator Scott Adkins holds the film together with an intense, seething performance.  We see as the movie goes along how Cain (Adkins) was transformed from a powerful yet gentle street tough into a hardened psychopath, and each phase of this evolution makes perfect sense.  The story adheres to a structure wherein it transfers intermittently among three periods of time, which could potentially become confusing, but Johnson does a remarkable job of allowing the narrative to direct its own path.  Both Johnson and Adkins grew up in densely populated, urban sectors of England, and their experience with the seedier characters and settings clothes their film in authenticity.

Despite the characters, language and violence which all seem to my American ears genuine, there is no denying that Avengement is a fantasy.  This fantasy is an undeniably brutal, pessimistic one, which allows the filmmakers to patch together some less-than stellar supporting performances with shockingly barbaric violence.  Overall, though I think that Adkins’ remarkable performance gives this bloody tableau a solid emotional footing, it’s primarily a grim, bloody good time in hell.

 

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Movie Review: Avengement

Guide: Modern Mime Routines

by: Andrew Halter

1. Piloting a Remote Control Helicopter

This is one of the more subtle uses of mime technique, in which the performer holds his hands parallel to each other, roughly 2-3 feet apart, scanning the sky for an invisible flying machine.  One can also open his or her mouth in amazement and excitement, occasionally becoming concerned that the imaginary helicopter will crash, only to be relieved when it does not.

2. Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Waving Tube Man

The Mime splays his or her arms wide, holding them rigid and unmoving, only to suddenly reverse directions suddenly.  The mime’s face should be completely without expression, suggesting the personification of an inanimate object.  If any small children are near, the mime could suddenly throw his arms toward them, hoping not to make them burst into tears.

3. Suicide

The mime should first pretend to sit at a desk and write a confessional note, making sure to emphasize with his or her finger the tears running down their cheek.  Then, standing up, the mime can slip an invisible noose over their neck, throwing the other end of the rope over an imagined overhead pipe. With hands clasped together in front of them, the mime could weep briefly into their own folded hands, before pretending to dangle lifeless from their own imagined suicidal rig.  Possibility: suddenly spring to life, grinning widely and ensuring any audience that it was all a ruse.

4. Mass Shooting

This act requires at least 15 mimes, as one will portray the shooter and the others his or her unfortunate victims.  All the mimes should begin together in one group, until one of them upholds an imaginary machine gun and begins to murder many of the other mimes.  There should be at least 10 imaginary casualties, with the shooter making sure to shudder his or her body rapidly as if jostled by machine gun fire.

5. Donald Trump Speech

The mime stands as if before a podium, making sure to indicate with hand motions that he or she is enormously overweight.  The mime could gesticulate wildly with his or her hands while occasionally standing openhanded as if asking the crowd a question.  Depending on what part of the country the mime performs this routine, it may end with a final triumphant Nazi salute.

Guide: Modern Mime Routines

Poem: Stone Faces

A warrior facade, that’s what they call it

in the daytime, the mask you put on, a scowling

bucket of crickets or something, crush in’ ‘em

to see killing as an art installation, scowl it off

the nothing you learn, tell yourself

the world is combat, in its heart and soul, if not

its bones, because it seems that some don’t have

to fight for everything, mirror eyes

are the only real

honest to god opponent, that you do and should fight

with pliers and a blowtorch, a couple pipe

hitters, the killer version, a phalanx

amassed on my borders, boxing me in

the tunnel to a nothing monster, I hope one day

I will grow past anger, for now it’s what’s there.

Poem: Stone Faces