Avengement is the sixth collaboration between action hero Scott Adkins (Abduction, Legacy of Lies), and writer/director Jesse V. Johnson (Triple Threat, The Mercenary). This one adds a brutal edge that’s been missing from most of their films. Working from a script co-written with another frequent collaborator, Stu Small (The Accident Man), they’ve come up with a dark and bloody tale of revenge.
Cain (Scott Adkins) is being escorted from prison to the hospital to see his dying mother. He’s too late though, she’s already dead when he arrives. He beats his guards into unconsciousness in an elevator and heads to the Horse And Jockey, a members-only pub owned by the man responsible for his incarceration. As he waits for his arrival, he entertains the now-captive patrons with the story of how he got there.
An up-and-coming fighter he refused to throw a fight. To smooth things over he got involved in a robbery orchestrated by his brother Lincoln (Craig Fairbrass, Cliffhanger, A Violent Man). When it went wrong Lincoln threw him under the bus with everyone else. Despite a clean record up to that point, he’s sentenced to one of the worst prisons in England. He quickly learns he’ll have to become as cold and brutal as the other inmates if he wants to survive. Especially as there’s a price on his head.
Adkin’s appearance in Avengement is far from his usual. His face is scarred and burnt, his mouth full of cheap metal teeth. And we find out how he got them in some wince-inducing sequences. A particularly nasty gunshot wound about 15 minutes in serves notice that the violence here isn’t sanitized like in so many of his films.
The same is true of the many fight scenes in Avengement. They’re nasty, bloody and decidedly lacking in flashy moves and flying kicks. There’s nothing glamorous about the violence in this film. Either in prison or in the streets once he gets his freedom. The same really can be said for Adkin’s character. He’s certainly been wronged, and as such he’s the protagonist, but even calling him an anti-hero is stretching it. Especially after the film’s final confrontation, an incredible bloodbath that verges on horror movie territory.
I give Adkins a lot of credit for taking on a role as brutal and unsympathetic as Cain. I also give credit to Small and Johnson for making us care about him. Others have tried to go the route of a protagonist who’s so almost indistinguishable from the antagonists. Many have failed, see my review of American Muscle for one example. Adkins dominates Avengement with his performance, but there’s excellent support from Fairbrass, Nick Moran (13 Eerie, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) as Lincoln’s partner Hyde and in a small role Louis Mandylor (Doom: Annihilation, Battle Drone) as a cop.
Definitely not your typical revenge film, Avengement is currently in select theatres, and on VOD, and digital via Samuel Goldwyn Films.