Bishop (Michael Lombardi) is a comely man in the new thriller THE RETALIATORS. The personification of “Good Guy” Bishop is raising his teenage daughter Rebecca (Abbey Hafer) on his own while acting as the hip, yet benevolent pastor at his church. A chance encounter leads to an act of brutality that demands a response from the otherwise peaceful man of God. Directed by Samuel Gonzalez Jr. and Bridget Smith from a script by Darren Geare and Jeff Allen Geare THE RETALIATORS aims to be ‘SE7EN’ mixed with ‘Death Wish’ with a dash of Tarantino and it doesn’t always succeed. It’s still an entertaining if uneven, revenge picture.
Our story opens with Bishop and his two daughters at a Christmas Tree lot being confronted with a bully. Bishop avoids violence and wishes the bully a Merry Christmas before heading off to church and leading his congregation in a spirited, yet heartfelt rock concert sermon. Meanwhile, a drug deal is going down in a warehouse nearby. The silent but deadly Ram (Joseph Gatt) does wrong by the guy selling him blow by brutalizing him and stuffing him in the trunk of his car. With Ram’s victim immobilized in the trunk, he heads out to get gas before leaving town. About the same time, Bishop’s daughter Rebecca stops at a gas station and discovers Ram’s trunk-bound victim. Yep, that means Rebecca is as good as dead.
So you thought you knew where this story was headed? Not so fast. Detective Jed (Marc Menchaca) arrives to console Bishop and assure him that the perp that killed his daughter would be found. Bishop understands this as God and Justice working their due course. Jed has something else in mind.
THE RETALIATORS is a fun movie, for sure. Judged on the merit of entertainment alone I could excuse a lot. But that isn’t what THE RETALIATORS tries to be. In fact, it tries to be too much. The script from the Geare’s serves us full on good guy vs. bad guy moments with the morality play of taking the high road. Yet it soon gives in to its bloodlust and devolves into an admittedly enjoyable, yet tonally disjointed movie. The opening of the film tells us that violence is not the answer nor is it pious. Then we see violence committed against our beloved protagonist that validates sanguine fountains of gore. While the film gets mad props for being tricky and dexterous, we really don’t get much more than the promise that rules could change at any given moment. This doesn’t land when you are trying to offer a moral trajectory.
Despite misgivings, THE RETALIATORS boasts solid performances from Gatt and Lombardi as diametricaly opposed characters. I would also give commendation to the overall look of the film. While low budget, this looks ad feels like a million bucks.
So should you watch it? I mean, you could do worse,
6 out of 10