The Retaliators Movie Review: Screamfest

Movie Bunker Score:

Opinion: The Retaliators—A Flawed Thriller with Mismatched Themes

Toxic Machismo and Vigilantism

Horror/thriller film, The Retaliators, dives headfirst into themes of toxic machismo, violence, state punishment, and vigilantism. The movie explores the consequences of these issues, aiming to provoke thoughts and discussions among viewers. It presents a narrative centered around John Bishop (played by Michael Lombardi), a pastor seeking answers after the brutal murder of his daughter, Sarah (Katie Kelly). As he embarks on his quest for justice, he uncovers a dark underworld thriving within his own community.

The Writing: A Rollercoaster of Pacing

One of the film’s major shortcomings lies in its uneven pacing. The Retaliators seems uncertain of its identity, making it challenging for viewers to fully grasp its intentions. The opening scene follows the traditional horror movie formula: a group of teens encountering terror in a strange town. However, this scene feels disconnected from the rest of the plot, leaving viewers perplexed. There is no clear indication that it takes place earlier in the timeline, contributing to the confusion. Moreover, the dialogue ranges from wooden to cringe-worthy, with excessive use of profanity that feels forced and unnecessary.

Disorienting Direction and Lackluster Characterization

The direction of The Retaliators raises further concerns. Some scenes include questionable choices that leave viewers scratching their heads. A particular instance involves a character transitioning from a calm and solemn tone to sudden outbursts of anger, followed by a return to a composed state. These directorial decisions feel disingenuous and fail to reflect authentic human behavior.

Characterization in the film also falls short. Female characters suffer from the “fridging” trope, serving primarily as motivation for the male protagonists. It is disheartening to witness the lack of diversity among female characters, as they all conform to a specific appearance, almost indistinguishable from one another. The movie relies heavily on stoic grunts, violence, and flashbacks to reveal character traits, lacking depth and complexity.

The Musicians as Actors and Uneven Performances

The inclusion of prominent musicians, such as the members of Five Finger Death Punch and Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach, adds an interesting dynamic to the film. However, their performances are inconsistent, often revealing that their talents primarily lie in music rather than acting. Although they provide quick cameo appearances, these moments occasionally feel like mere publicity stunts rather than meaningful contributions to the narrative.

The film actors themselves struggle with their performances, which may be attributed to the direction they received on set. Awkward line reads and lack of emotional depth raise questions about the production’s rushed schedule or limited budget. It seems as though additional takes could have improved the overall quality of the acting.

The Troubling Thematic Messages

A significant concern with The Retaliators lies in its thematic messaging. The film advocates for the effectiveness and righteousness of violence, portraying John Bishop’s character growth as resorting to violence as a solution, even in situations unrelated to self-defense. Rather than presenting a nuanced perspective on conflict resolution, the movie glorifies aggressive behavior, endorsing unwarranted physical confrontations as admirable qualities. This tough-on-crime stance further perpetuates an outdated and polarizing mindset.

Furthermore, the film inadvertently conveys disturbing views on mentally ill individuals. A plot twist reveals that a character, Jed (played by Marc Menchaca), captures and tortures criminals, reducing them to mere shells of their former selves. The film labels these traumatized characters as “subhumans,” dehumanizing them entirely. While the intention may have been to condemn murderers and criminals, the implication that mentally ill individuals are less than human is deeply problematic. These conflicting messages within the film contribute to its inconsistent and muddled ideology.

Positive Aspects and Conclusion

Despite its flaws, The Retaliators does have a few redeeming qualities. The lighting is well-executed, addressing a common issue in many films where scenes are excessively dark. The film also demonstrates effective use of Chekhov’s gun, planting ideas and small plot devices early on that are later employed within the narrative. Spencer Charnas and Tommy Lee provide enjoyable cameos, infusing some fun into their brief appearances.

In conclusion, The Retaliators ultimately fails to leave a positive impression. Its juvenile and inconsistent nature, paired with troubling thematic elements, hinder its potential for a memorable viewing experience. Unless one is specifically drawn to angsty narratives reminiscent of early drafts or finds enjoyment in disjointed storytelling, this film may not be worth the investment of time and energy.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the central theme of The Retaliators?

The central theme of The Retaliators revolves around toxic machismo, violence, state punishment, and vigilantism. It explores the consequences and complexities associated with these topics.

2. Who are some notable musicians featured in the movie?

The Retaliators includes members of Five Finger Death Punch, Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach, Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe, Doc Coyle of Bad Wolves, and Spencer Charnas of Ice Nine Kills, among others.

3. How does The Retaliators handle its female characters?

Regrettably, the film largely relegates its female characters to the “fridging” trope, where their purpose primarily revolves around motivating male characters. Furthermore, there is a lack of diversity among female characters, with most sharing similar appearances.

4. Does The Retaliators offer a nuanced perspective on conflict resolution?

No, the film leans toward glorifying violence as an effective solution to various issues, even beyond self-defense scenarios. It presents a tough-on-crime stance that oversimplifies complex discussions around crime and punishment.

5. How would you summarize The Retaliators?