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Review: TAINTED (2019)

The story of a former criminal forced back into the game for one last job gets trotted out one more time. Writer/director Brent Cote puts it at the centre of Tainted, a crime thriller pitting The Aryan brotherhood against the Russian mob.

Fifteen years ago Lance (Alan Van Sprang, Saw III, Land of the Dead) was a member of the Aryan Nation. He also worked for the Russian mob. Until one particular Russian pushed him too far. The Russian ended up in a wheelchair, Lance ended up in prison. Now he’s out, and he just wants to be left alone by everyone.


But that’s not going to happen. The Brotherhood is moving in the Russian’s meth business, leaving a trail of dead bodies. Vladimir (John Rhys-Davies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Soldier of War) orders his old boss Gregor (John Ralston, A Pound of Flesh, Ready or Not) is ordered to make him an offer he can’t refuse. A new identity and a pile of cash in return for two killings. But things go sideways and Anna (Sara Waisglass, Mary Goes Round), an innocent musician, is caught in the middle.


Tainted starts off with one big strike against it. How much less appealing of a main character can you get than a Neo-Nazi with ties to the Russian mob? You need to go a long way to convince an audience that Lance is worth giving a fuck about. If you’ve seen the trailer, then you know Cote came up with a scene that’s just that. If you haven’t, I’ll just say it involves some DIY tattoo removal.

Which is a very good thing because without that none of the rest of the film would have worked. Being a low-budget film, the action isn’t exactly non-stop. This is to be expected. But Tainted fills that space with some genuinely interesting drama instead of the usual filler. This requires us to be invested in the character.


That’s not to say that Tainted is some kind of character study, it isn’t. It’s a solid DTV thriller with some well-done action scenes and a better-written script than many films like it. That extends to the ending, which caught me a bit off guard. But I suppose that’s the point, it’s about how our decisions and actions affect not just us but those around us.

Epic Pictures will release Tainted on VOD June 16th. You can check out the film’s Facebook page for more info.

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