Director: David Ayer
Writer(s): David Ayer
Cast: Lana Parrilla, Shia LaBeouf, Bobby Soto, Chelsea Rendon
David Ayer has written wonderful and gritty thrillers in the past, highlighted by Training Day. He even directed a few with End of Watch and Fury. He has what it takes to be a good filmmaker, which is what made me believe 2016’s Suicide Squad was one of those few misfires that everyone has now and again.
This isn’t his first directing effort since Suicide Squad, he directed 2017’s Netflix hit Bright, but it is the first script he has worked on since the DC flop. Sadly, this seems to be a continuation of the same downhill trajectory that his past films have been heading down. With The Tax Collector, Ayer is clearly trying to get back to his roots of Training Day mixed with a little End of Watch for the thrills, but it all gets far too ahead of itself to really know what it is on its own.
There were very few parts of this movie that I actually gravitated to, but unsurprisingly one of those was Shia LaBeouf. Shia was incredible last year in everything he did, and he was able to bring levels of sheer intensity we have seen from him before, most notably in Ayer’s Fury. But, similar to LaBeouf’s character, Creeper, there was a feeling of LaBeouf being held back from really going all out. With what he was given, LaBeouf did everything possible to deliver a good performance, but if this had been a better movie, he could’ve delivered a great performance.
His work in this movie, while constricted, was still better than anyone else here. I am sure Bobby Soto is a fine actor, but I cannot remember one line that was delivered remotely well. Everything that was said, and there wasn’t a lot to be said, seemed like a struggle for him to get out. The scenes of intensity felt downplayed by the lack of there being any viable lines to get across.
I can’t fully blame Soto on this one though, because what he was working with could never work on its own. The script was a generic one, but that felt like it was changing the genre. It was what I feel people who have never seen gangs, believed them to be. The story always felt like a movie. I understand it is, but with how grounded in realism this film tried to portray, I never felt any of it was realistic. I always knew I was watching a movie because the structure and content were configured in a way that didn’t differentiate from anything I have ever seen, and didn’t do the generic stuff all that well.
There were also strange qualities that touched on religion that felt incredibly forced throughout the film. The movie also has a grotesque and overindulgent way about it that made it hard to watch at times. Some moments of torture and death left nothing to the imagination as it showed those in the absolute worst of ways. If you are squeamish, this isn’t your movie. Overall, this movie was just a mess with very few redeeming qualities.
Final: Shia LaBeouf tries his best, but a weak script really holds this movie back from even being good. David Ayer’s streak of sub-par movies continues as The Tax Collector is an overly grotesque version of nothing we haven’t seen, which makes it nothing worth watching.
This movie gets a half star for the concept and a half star for Shia LaBeouf.
Awards Prospects: None
RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 7
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.