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Now On Netflix - AVENGEMENT

After years of assaults on him in prison, Cain escapes for avengement on those responsible.


Review by Musanna Ahmed

Directed by: Jesse V. Johnson

Starring: Scott Adkins, Craig Fairbrass, Thomas Turgoose, Kierston Wareing, Nick Moran, Leo Gregory

avengement dvd

I get excited for the collaborations between Jesse V. Johnson and Scott Adkins as much as I do for any other top contemporary actor/director partnership, following the enjoyable offerings of Triple Threat and The Accident Man, to name a couple of their works. Upping the ante with their action scenes within their most intriguing narrative thus far, this modest British crime/action film is their best collaboration yet.

Convict Cain Burgess (Adkins) is out on a furlough from jail to visit his dying mother, only to find she has just passed away. He takes her death as a sign of neglect from his brother Lincoln (Craig Fairbrass), another impetus to track him down as well as for reasons outlined in the long story of how he became a soulless killer, who’s now personally seeking redemption and revenge.


avengement review

Pummeling his guards into unconsciousness, he makes his way to a furtive pub, where barkeep Bez (Kierston Wareing) grants him access, assuming he’s a member after he tells her that he’s looking for Lincoln. Naturally, Lincoln’s firm are already sat there. One member, Tune (Thomas Turgoose), starts to prate on about the time he supposedly confronted a shadowy figure during one of their criminal activities, which is the point where Cain cocks his head towards them and maniacally laughs about the nonsense Tune’s spouting, citing that he was the figure that night and that Tune should tell his crew the truth of how it really went down.

[ READ MORE: Interview - Avengement Stars Scott Adkins & Thomas Turgoose, & Writer Stu Small ]

A quick back-and-forth establishes Cain as somebody who’s clearly come to kill everyone in the room but, as he awaits Lincoln’s presence, he takes his time to relay the whole story of what happened, for several of the members are as much in the dark as we are to begin. The plot does get a tad convoluted later on, around when bank balances become a point of conflict, but that's about the same time when the broken bone count rapidly accelerates.


avengement review

Writers Johnson and Stu Small - who’s also a major part of this winning collaboration having written The Accident Man and The Debt Collector and consulted on Triple Threat - craft a fascinating non-chronological narrative centred on a moral conundrum, driven by their anti-hero’s strong character arc. It’s easy to root for Cain because Adkins easily earns our sympathies through a top-tier, career-best performance.

Obviously the esteemed martial artist kills it in the action scenes but he’s also terrific at the dramatic and injects great moments of humour, not unlike Tom Hardy’s Bronson or Eric Bana’s Chopper. It’s one of those rare action performances where not only did I want his character to kick the shit out of everyone but I also wanted him to find happiness by the end of it!

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There are highly entertaining performances too from Turgoose, as the oily Tune, and Wareing as the passive-aggressive, potential secret weapon for the mob. But this is Scott Adkins’ show, and something else I admire about his performance here is that he isn’t one of those stars who needs to look cool all the time or never lose a fight; his gruff, silver toothed look takes a lot of his polish away in the service of looking like a properly hardened criminal. So much of the first half has him getting psychologically and physically walloped - few action stars would subject themselves to an American History X-style mouth stomp.


avengement review

It feels like the ultimate movie of Adkins career in some ways, as the writers finely mould his character within the grey area of villain, of which he’s played so many, and anti-hero. An amazing choreography and stunt team ensure the violence is brutally realistic, a stylish step sideways from the flair he demonstrates in the Undisputed films and Triple Threat (which counted Tony Jaa and Tiger Chen among other martial artists in its killer cast). The bone-crunching violence of Avengement would make Peckinpah proud, and make S. Craig Zahler happy to know there are other contemporary filmmakers keeping the exploitation film alive.

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The stealth MVP here is Sean Murray, a composer and staple of Johnson’s production team, who scores Avengement with amazing synths that can be best described as somewhere between classic British crime movie and John Carpenter. We understand the sort of wicked thrills and rough characters we’ll get when he hear Murray’s notes straight from the opening credits scene, which is also aided by visually replicating that of a spaghetti western.

Avengement is terrific, a resounding call for fans of action and genre cinema to closely acquaint themselves with Jesse V. Johnson (if they haven’t already) and a defining work of Scott Adkins’ career.

Avengement is on Netflix UK now.


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