As the Australian thriller Avarice begins Kate Matthews (Gillian Alexy, Anchors, People You May Know) is not living her best life. Her husband Ash (Luke Ford, Infini, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) spends so much time at his job that it’s affecting their marriage. And daughter Sarah (Téa Heathcote-Marks) is a typical teen which seems to be more than Kate can handle. Worst of all, the stress from all this made her miss an easy shot and place second in the local archery tournament.
She’s even less amused when Ash takes a call from the office on what is supposed to be their vacation to tell him they just closed a big deal. And that no one can get a hold of Tom (Nick Atkinson, Let’s Get Skase, Bert: The Last Virgin). We know why they can’t and pretty soon Kate and her family will too when Reed (Alexandra Nell, The Dustwalker, Rattlesnake) and Kane (Ryan Panizza, Sissy, The Gateway) abduct them in order to force Ash to use his knowledge of the banking industry to steal a lot of money for them. Ten million dollars to be transferred into three accounts to be precise. And he has three hours to do it.
Director John V. Soto (The Needle, The Gateway) and co-writers Andrew Slattery (Reg Makes Contact), Adam Enslow, and Dane Millerd (There’s Something in the Pilliga) have come up with a very straightforward thriller with a simple plot that sees Kate having to use her archery skills to take down Reed, Kane and their hired muscle.
It might actually be a bit too simple at times though. Near the beginning of Avarice, we see Kate tell her therapist about how difficult Sarah is but the worst we see is Sarah telling her mother that it’s none of her business who she’s texting. If that’s as bad as her behavior gets Kate should consider herself lucky.
Similarly, Ash’s long hours at the office are a problem but they’re living in a big expensive house and, as far as the viewer can tell, Kate is a stay-at-home mother. So those long hours are paying for their lifestyle. This lack of background makes Kate seem whiny and unsympathetic rather than put upon through most of Avarice’s first act. We really needed to see Sarah doing something concerning or a reason to suspect Ash is doing worse than missing her tournaments because he has to be at the office.
Thankfully once Reed and Kane show up and Avarice gets going none of that matters as the villains are pretty much pure evil and all that matters is that they be killed off as quickly as possible. And the script does deliver on the action as Kate has to use her fists as well as her bow to get the job done. The cast is a bit on the small side, but there are enough targets for Kate’s arrows to keep it interesting without it getting unbelievable.
It’s all delivered in a brisk, efficient manner that for once isn’t complicated by plots within plots and double-crosses that aren’t as surprising as the filmmakers think. There are only a couple of twists in Avarice, of which one is fairly obvious. The filmmakers gave it just enough of a plot to hang the action on and that was about it.
As a result, while it’s nothing exceptional, Avarice is a decent low-budget action thriller that should keep fans occupied for an hour and a half. One thing still puzzles me though. If this really is an Australian film, how come there wasn’t a single killer snake, spider or drop bear to be seen?