Detective James Avery (Bruce Willis) is a detective in the missing persons division who keeps getting to the holding locations just a little too late to save all the girls… and there are far too many missing persons cases to handle himself, especially with a local drug & human trafficking ring run by Max Livingston (Mike Epps). His superior (Patrick St. Espirit) keeps tying his hands at every turn with bureaucracy when Max makes a deal with the FBI to get off free in exchange for rolling over on the competition.
Roman MacGregor (Ashton Holmes) and Mia (Melissa Bolona) are about to get married, much to the delight of Roman’s ex-military brothers Deklan (Cole Hauser) and Brandon (Shawn Ashmore) and Brandon’s wife Jessa (Tiffany Brouwer). When Mia gets abducted by Max’s goons and brought in to be their newest product, the MacGregor brothers gear up with guns and tactical vests and go to war against Max’s organization to save her. Along the way, their paths cross with Det. Avery’s as he warns them to stay out of the way and let the police do their job.
The opening scene of Acts of Violence had me a little worried for this movie; its $200-camera-from-Walmart look, piss poor coloring, and cheesy effects made me feel it blew its budget on star power. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Once the opening scene is over, the look becomes professional and takes the form of a real movie. People often judge a movie within the first 5 minutes, so the decision to have the opening shots look like a low-grade high school production made me question both the directing of Brett Donowho (whose previous directing credits include a plethora of low-budget thrillers) and distributor Lionsgate. But hey, I guess it’s easy to get distribution with Bruce Willis attached.
I also can’t for the life of me figure out how Melissa Bolona scored the role of Mia, other than the fact she’s freaking gorgeous. She does a good job of looking good, as when she’s struggling to free herself with a bunch of groans and heavy breathing. It’s when she actually has dialogue that you realize she’s an amateur who’s just getting jobs because she’s nice to look at. She has zero talent for line delivery, yet according to IMDB, she has 23 performances under her belt, including the upcoming $35M thriller The Hurricane Heist.
Oddly enough, while her performance is just awful, her character is well written! She’s spunky and by no means a damsel in distress… she’s resourceful and a badass in her own right. It’s just a shame they didn’t cast someone who can actually act.
In fact, this whole movie is filled with females who can’t act. Tiffany Bouwer, Sophia Bush (who plays Avery’s partner, Detective Brooke Baker), and Jenna B. Kelly playing Mia’s friend who intimately knows Max’s thugs, all round out the female side of the cast with women who are definitely attractive, but have line delivery on par with your average local community player.
The men, luckily, all give stellar performances, saving this film. The action is just gun play, which gets boring quick. Thankfully, it’s bolstered by a great script by relative newcomer Nicholas Aaron Mezzanatto. The plot was great, and felt a bit like Four Brothers with more unexpected plot twists that kept me interested and guessing. Just when you think the movie is over and the day is saved… think again!
If Acts of Violence had only casted its female roles better and opened with a scene that didn’t look like garbage, it might’ve been an outstanding action thriller. That said, it’s still solid entertainment that’s worth the watch. The realism of “everyone is expendable” rings true here, which was a refreshing step away from the usual action flick with infallible and seemingly invincible heroes. And for a movie headlined by Bruce Willis, that’s saying something.