The Moderator opens in Moscow with the woman who is about to become Mya Snik (Irma Lake) waking up to a video from a couple of her friends who are on a camping trip in Morocco. In the time it takes her to play with her cat, and do some yoga while listening to an absolutely awful ballad her friends have been killed, apparently by ISIS, and their deaths announced on the news.
But not to worry, she has a friend who has a friend who is willing to make a substantial investment in someone with her “particular set of skills”. He tosses her a backpack with “everything you need” including a fake passport and a scorpion and sends her on her way.
Next, we head to Maimi where the feds are keeping tabs on an extremely ugly dude who’s active on a snuff film forum. While they watch him he’s watching footage of Mya’s friends being killed. Then someone in black leather and a motorcycle helmet breaks in and kills him leading to a comical chase between the feds on foot and the killer on her bike. Yes, I said her, because there isn’t any doubt who it is.
Most of The Moderator revolves around her pursuit of musical superstar Vance Wilhorn (Michael Patrick Lane, Shelter, Rekindling Christmas) who has a bad habit of not taking no for an answer and a fondness for “special parties” in Morocco organized by Hakim (Don Bigg, Burnout, Redemption Day) who has a connection to the murder of her friends.
I have to wonder when The Moderator was written and shot because I can’t imagine anyone thinking that this is the perfect time for a film about a righteous Russian assassin killing rapists. I’m sure it’ll be a hit in Moscow, but with Putin’s army raping and murdering its way across Ukraine I’m not seeing it being warmly received elsewhere even if it was a good film. Which it isn’t.
The Moderator is a lower-budget film so the amount of action we get is, as expected, limited. Unfortunately, it’s also not very good. The “chase” where she casually strolls after an obese man who is trying to run away but can barely manage a fast walk is typical of what we get. Most of the fights are over almost before the viewer notices they started.
To be fair the film is classed as a drama on IMDB, but the poster and trailer both point up the film’s action elements. Unfortunately, the trailer also contains most of its action as well.
Plotwise, The Moderator is just as bad. The villains couldn’t be more cartoonishly obvious if they had “RAPIST” tattooed across their foreheads. The film’s dialogue is equally obvious and clunky, frequently feeling less like conversations and more like lectures. It’s preachy to the point viewers will be rolling their eyes even if they agree with the point the film is trying to make.
The film’s two subplots, one about Selma (Soraya Azzabi, Arctic Dogs) a Moroccan policewoman and the other about INTERPOL agents Bourdeau (Gary Dourdan, Reversion, Righteous Villains)and Ross (Robert Knepper, WarHunt, Prison Break) are irrelevant until the very end of the film. And then they’re just there to allow for an ending you can see coming from miles away.
Director Zhor Fassi-Fihri and writers Hicham Hajji (Redemption Day) and Jonathan McConnell could have delivered an entertaining mix of Taken and I Spit on Your Grave. Instead, they gave us I Snore During Your Movie. Saban Films will release The Moderator in theatres as well as on VOD and Digital platforms on July 29th. And if that’s not quite what you were looking for, FilmTagger has a few suggestions.