Stu Bennett, or Wade Barrett if you’re a wrestling fan, has been trying his hand at acting lately. He’s taken a break from the ring to try to become the next Dwayne Johnson or at least Hulk Hogan. After a few supporting roles, he has his first lead in I AM VENGEANCE. And if it’s any indication he’s got a ways to go to catch up with John Hennigan (NEVER LEAVE ALIVE), let alone The Rock.
John Gold (Bennett, FANGED UP) is an ex-special forces type turned high-end mercenary. When a group of soldiers turned drug dealers kill an old friend of his, along with said friend’s parents he doesn’t hesitate. John jumps into his mint condition black GTO and heads to Devotion to settle the score.
After a tour of the murder scene, John heads straight to the local pub and announces he’s here for revenge. Of course, this attracts the attention of Hatcher (Gary Daniels FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, ASTRO) the gang’s ringleader. It also gets him the attention of Sandra (Anna Shaffer) a local junkie who helps him out. Something the rest of the locals seem reluctant to do. The lines have been drawn…Get ready to rumble!
I AM VENGEANCE has an old school almost 80’s Cannon Films kind of vibe to it. From the GTO to Gold’s in your face way of handling matters. Even the score is a synth driven flashback. That’s not a bad thing, it’s actually fairly refreshing now when so many action films have overly complex plots. This is one you can relax and just enjoy the mayhem.
It’s also a very British film, shot in the UK with a British cast and sensibilities which is also a nice change from the usual. What isn’t different is the standard of action on display here. The fights are well choreographed with the supporting cast full of action veterans such as Bryan Larkin (LONDON HAS FALLEN, CHASING THE DRAGON) and Orion Lee (THE LAST JEDI, SKYFALL). Sure there are cliches such as one character getting a handful of loaded syringes rammed into his neck but they’re well enough executed it doesn’t matter. Thankfully they’re also mostly free from witty one-liner follow-ups.
Daniels seemed disappointingly out of it and reliant on sped-up camera work in the last couple of films I’ve seen. Here he seems much more on form although there’s still the occasional bit of camera enhancement. The final showdown between Daniels and Bennett is a fine bit of brawling.
The film’s major problem though is Bennett himself. He has the build and moves to be an action hero, but he lacks any real presence. Scott Adkins outshined him in ELIMINATORS and Daniels steals every scene from him here. He also seems lacking in the charisma needed to play the hero, he seems much better suited to imposing villain roles. He really needs to up his acting game if he wants to get ahead.
That being said I AM VENGEANCE is a solid choice for an evening’s viewing.