David Ayer is an interesting guy. For some reason, I can't seem to land on how I really feel about his films. On one hand, he wrote for movies like 'Training Day', and extended his writing to also direct great, gritty titles like 'End of Watch' and 'Fury'. On the other hand, 'Suicide Squad' provided my eyes and ears with the most God awful Joker I've ever seen in my life, and for me, the film only turned out okay at best. Sadly, this film makes the same cut as 'Suicide Squad' - okay at best. It's just a touch too typical for what it is, and there's nothing altogether surprising about it.
For those of you looking at the Shia LeBouf images associated with this film, under the impression that it's his movie, fair warning, it is not. The main focus of the film is a family man named David Cuevas (Bobby Soto). He works the life of a "Tax Collector", along with his friend "Creeper" (LeBouf). The pair work for a behind the scenes crime lord known as The Wizard, collecting his cuts from local gangs who owe him. Picture a Mexican 'Pulp Fiction' Jules and Vincent, but with the very white Shia LeBouf as one of them.
When The Wizard's former rival, Conejo (Jose Conejo Martin) comes back to L.A. from Mexico, however, David soon finds his whole world going topsy-turvy. As though the rivalry that upends Wizard's business isn't enough, David also finds himself desperate to protect his family; wife, Alexis (Cinthya Carmona) and kids, Casey (Aaliyah Samara Lopez) and Dillon (Ricardo Gonzalez). It's your average "owe money or get messed up" kind of movie, and not entirely new or different - but it is kinda neat to see the enforcers in a bit of danger. It's a take on the whole thing you don't often seem to get, but even with that, a lot of the film flows typically - that is until the last third where things really go off the deep end.
Despite some glaringly bad reviews, I can say with assurance that for those of you who enjoy violence, this one has some pretty solid gore. Some of it is filmed, such as the busting up of a leg with a hammer, and some of it is off-screen, such as a face being dragged down a road... well, kinda off-screen. It takes a while for it to get going, but if you're any kind of gore hound, there's some decent material here for you. I know I cringed a few times, so it's effective at being unsettling. It's one for the hardened movie-watcher.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this one makes the same cut as 'Suicide Squad' for me. There was a lot I didn't really care for, but there was still some thing I liked about it - mainly the offer of a different perspective on a rather typical set-up. The payoff here is pretty brutal, and you end up routing for David after a while, even if there's a few things that seem to blatantly tug on your heartstrings. David almost becomes too easy to empathize with, considering all of the horrible things he has to face.
I might say that this is another one of those films that may very well have been better off as a video game. Hell, there's even a scene where David straight up "GTA"s a guy and steals his truck. I honestly laughed so hard at how unexpected it was - for the record it's about 59 minutes in. Otherwise it's pretty reminiscent of a lot of Ayer's typical work. It's gritty, it's gorey, it takes place in the mean streets, it's ripe with solid cinematography, it's a hard R rating, and just plain tough. You need a bit of a stomach to get through it at some points, but as an overall, I might like it better than 'Suicide Squad', but it's no 'Fury' - still, in my opinion, Ayer's best work.