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New to Netflix - PAYBACK (aka THE DEBT COLLECTOR 2)

payback the debt collector 2 review
A pair of debt collectors run into trouble in Las Vegas.


Review by Musanna Ahmed

Directed by: Jesse V. Johnson

Starring: Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Marina Sirtis, Vernon Wells

payback scott adkins poster

I’m going to be starting every review of a new Jesse V. Johnson, Stu Small and Scott Adkins joint like this every year until I feel they’ve been recognised by the masses, but the director-writer-actor combo really have been making some of the better English-language action movies of recent years, including The Debt Collector, Triple Threat and Avengement.


payback scott adkins review

Their latest collaboration brings them back to the world of The Debt Collector, in which Adkins played a broke martial arts instructor known as French(y) who got onto the mob’s hefty payroll by working as a debt collector alongside his assigned partner, an over-the-hill badass called Sue (Louis Mandylor). You don’t need to have watched The Debt Collector to understand the sequel Payback - which was in fact originally titled 'Debt Collectors' - but it helps to know the dynamic of the lead characters. Both films live and die by the chemistry of Adkins and Mandylor, and they make for a terrific pairing à la Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

[ READ MORE: New Release Review - Les Misérables ]

Following an ambiguous ending to the first film, in which the characters danced with death, this sequel handily absolves French and Sue of any sustained injuries or geographical separation and reunites them during a bar brawl early on. Once French gets past the disbelief of seeing a living, breathing Sue, the two get right back to where they left off as Sue seeks his buddy’s help for a trinity of debt collections in Las Vegas, including one involving his ex-lover Mal Reese (Marina Sirtis of Star Trek fame).


payback scott adkins review


The biggest issue with the film is that it gets pretty convoluted when multiple parties are involved, compared to the predecessor which was streamlined and easier to follow. Our focus resorts to the primal instinct of just hoping for the best of our central duo, if not fully engaging with who everyone is and what each of them desire.

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

The best part of the film doesn’t involve the standoffs with their targets in Sin City though - the best part is when things briefly escalate internally and French and Sue have a street fight that’s reminiscent of the long tussle between Roddy Piper and Keith David in John Carpenter’s They Live. Almost immediately prior to the dust-up, the two have a discussion about boxers versus mixed martial artists and the debate is essentially put to the test in the fight, considering the unique skill set of either guy. It’s one of several melee combat sequences that particularly showcase Adkins’ dexterity in perhaps a more grounded way than some of his other flicks.


payback scott adkins review

Payback looks to be aiming to win a new fanbase with its rebranded title and, while that could be the case, it should first and foremost be seen by fans of the English action hero at the centre of it, especially those who enjoyed the first film. Johnson and Small are the only writers I can think of who utilise Adkins to his best extent, gifting French with a wit and charisma that keeps you entertained, even when he and Sue are simply talking to one another in a car ride. The Australian Mandylor is equally as watchable, continuing to channel Michael Paré and Mickey Rourke in his performance but perhaps overselling his ability to do an East Coast accent on this second go-around. Narrative issues aside, Payback is a rollicking good time.

Payback is on Netflix UK now.




2020 movie reviews