I’ve never been a huge fan of Stu Bennet. While he’s got the build and the look to be an action hero he came off bland and lacking talent and charisma in Eliminators and I Am Vengeance. I was a bit more impressed by his work in the horror-comedy Fanged Up, so I went into I Am Vengeance: Retaliation with a bit of hope. The opening scene pretty much killed that hope.
John Gold (Stu Bennet) walks into a bar and starts beating up the hired muscle. The bartender grabs a shotgun. Then makes sure to get close enough that Gold can reach over and take it away from him before he can use it. Then he goes over to the three armed guys he’s after. They of course just sit there, not even drawing the guns we see in their waistbands…
Waiting for him outside the club is his old boss Frost (Mark Griffin, The Hard Corps, Dragons of Camelot). He has an offer Gold can’t resist. It seems Sean Teague (Vinnie Jones, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Midnight Meat Train), the man who betrayed John’s old team is still alive. He’s in the arms business now and the government wants him. They’re willing to wipe John’s slate clean if he’ll lead the team that gets him. Of course it won’t be easy.
The plot of I Am Vengeance: Retaliation has a couple of nice twists. Gold and his team, all two of them, Lynch (Phoebe Robinson-Galvin, Black Site) and Shapiro (Sam Benjamin, Residue), capture Teague in the film’s opening minutes. But getting him back alive involves not only holding off his goons, led by Pearl (Jessica Jane Stafford, Cannibals and Carpet Fitters, Redwood) and Renner (Bentley Kelu, Black Ops, Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway). They also have to keep Jen Quaid (Katrina Durden, The Take Down) from putting a bullet in him to avenge her father.
There’s certainly plenty of action, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation delivers the goods there. The problem is the script. Writer/director Ross Boyask fills the film with elite fighters with all the aiming skills of an Imperial Stormtrooper. People have the drop on someone. But wait for them to notice, and escape a hail of poorly aimed bullets, rather than just kill them. And of course, everyone repeatedly drops their weapons to go hand to hand with each other.
That last one might be a good thing actually. The numerous fight scenes are the highlight of I Am Vengeance: Retaliation. Of course, that’s to be expected from Bennet who’s probably still better known as the WWE’s Wade Barrett. But the rest of the cast also has some serious martial arts skills. And fight choreographer Tim Man (Triple Threat, Legacy of Lies) showcases them well.
Bennet is better here than in the original, but once again gets overshadowed. Granted by this point Vinnie Jones is a master at stealing scenes. And for a change, he’s in the whole film, not just an overblown cameo. But Bennet can’t keep being outshined when he is supposed to be the star. Not if he wants to keep getting starring roles.
As long as you can overlook the plot’s rather large problems and concentrate on the mayhem, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation will certainly satisfy your taste for action. Just don’t think about it too much. Or better yet, don’t think about it at all.
I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is available to stream.