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Repeater (2022) Review

Repeater was directed by R. Ellis Frazier (Rumble, Larceny), written by Frazier and Benjamin Budd (Uppercut, Dead Drop), and stars Paul Sidhu (Hustle Down, Aakhari Decision), Gary Daniels (Bring Him Back Dead, Skin Traffik), Nick Moran (Renegades, Avengement), Kristanna Loken (Dark Power, Purity Falls), James Faulkner (Hunted, Never Back Down: Revolt), Geoffrey Ross (The Line, Antidote), and Corbin Bernsen (A Bennett Song Holiday, Hunting Evil). It’s about a contractor whose most recent job forces him to take a risk and bring a wanted hacker to his employer.

The Plot: Movies whose titles accurately describe the sensation of watching them always deserve praise for that choice. What props Repeater earns for honesty quickly comes away with the complete lack of creativity in its story; you’ve seen this before.

Data thievery is no small thing for retiring Silver (Faulkner), so when his employee Howard (Ross) copies every precious file with intent to sell them to Rousseau (Moran), hitman Botha (Daniels) swoops in to make sure the delivery isn’t completed. There’s a decent level of intrigue generated within the first 20 minutes, but Repeater doesn’t have much interest in developing its central conflict, as it relies on ambiguous writing in reference to it. Howard had codes, sold them, and they’ve been re-encrypted. The (unoriginal) idea is there, but not substantiated.

Needing a job after his last one went wrong, hitman Smith (Sidhu) contacts his advisor Mann (Bernsen), who tells him about an open kill contract in Tijuana. Smith takes the job and finds that Rousseau has his own security duo, with Sykes (Loken) among them. Obviously, the job doesn’t go as smoothly as desired, and Smith ends up with Botha and Sykes coming for him, and for the now-captured Rousseau. Repeater later reveals the significance of the codes, which causes a change of direction for Smith, but none of this comes as a surprise.

Budd and Frazier don’t do much wrong in their storytelling, but it’s difficult to be content with repeated mediocrity. This is all humdrum stuff done passably.

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The Characters: Bog standard players and parties litter the film, with most characters able to be labelled with a few words. Whatever development there is gets betrayed almost instantly and makes staying with these archetypes a bore.

Smith would be a typical lone-wolf contract killer, but the writing has trouble maintaining even this easy thread. After his wife died (I’m assuming this comes after, anyway) he lost interest in following orders, opting to execute contracts his own way, which comes as a detriment to his pay. Maybe he has some subliminal desire to die and be out of his misery, but Sidhu isn’t strong enough an actor to hint at the idea. Repeater tries to make him untrusting of everyone, but the fact that he still works with Mann, as well as recruits some help to get to Rousseau, doesn’t track. He’s just another film hitman.

Rosseau is a cocky Frenchman. He’s neurotic and paranoid, as seen when he has his room service patted down and gets suspicious at the slightest mention of the word “computers” but there’s not much else to him. His reasons for wanting the data that Howard stole aren’t that interesting, though his backstory is enjoyably out there, and he doesn’t play much into the action. He’s a package waiting to be delivered or destroyed.

Neither of the competing killers is given anything to work with aside from basic descriptions like “jaded” for Botha, and “ex-colleague” for Sykes. Repeater tries to have a connection between Botha and Silver, as during a monologue he mentions being taken care of for over 20 years, but there’s never time devoted to this, making any attempts at humanizing him hollow. Doubly so for Sykes. The expectations for assassins and conspiracy are only barely met.

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The Action: What’s most important in an action movie is the action, and Frazier is at least able to deliver a few above-average sequences throughout the runtime, though it takes a while for them to appear.

Having brought a hotel staff member on board to draw Rousseau from his room that he has rented on the way to the US/Mexico border, Smith essentially steps on his own foot, but it does bring about an action scene where he, Sykes, and Rousseau fist fight in an elevator. It doesn’t show much promise until Smith gets kicked out and forced to run down the stairs to stop the elevator from going any further. It’s a bit of comedic action that’s a little forced but delivers some decent hand-to-hand choreography in the process.

Between this setpiece and the time it takes Sykes and Botha to catch up, there are a couple of random moments of violence that pop up in Repeater, but they all feel jammed in to allow Smith’s huge advantage to slip away. A stop at a convenience store is ironically the most convenient, as a trio of robbers show up and get gunned down. Following this, there’s a fight at a crowded border crossing that – while acceptably entertaining – again feels contrived, as both baddies arrive at the exact same time to spur a generic traffic-set showdown that never truly kicks off.

Climactic conflict isn’t a highlight, as Frazier has trouble coming up with scale in the enterprise and vulnerability in the main character. It’s another cliched outcome when Smith takes the final act to an abandoned highrise where a multi-teamed deal almost goes down, only to have it take no risks. Repeater’s action is perfectly safe, fine, and unfortunately in relatively short supply.

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The Technics: I have to guess that a series of films shot in Mexico have netted Frazier with some influence around the area, as this film has the same level of eye candy as his last, but that’s balanced by similar problems too.

Locations and lighting are some of the best parts of Repeater, as it traverses the dingy, dirty urban streets of the cities, the messy chokepoints of the border, a beach, and a few upper-end buildings that paint a full picture of the country’s environments. Very little of this was engineered specifically for the film, but it provides an atmosphere that’s desperately needed in an otherwise completely perfunctory film.

Script problems are the biggest ones for the movie. Excessive scenes like Smith renting a room in a hotel for a night and hiring a prostitute for no reason could’ve been cut without changing a single thing for the worse. It would’ve been better to cut some bits where Sidhu was tasked with reaching out of his range because the writing is average, and his acting is below that. The supporting cast doesn’t get many opportunities to bring their skills either, though Daniels, Moran, and Faulkner certainly tried. Loken is as blank as ever, and Bernsen is present for maybe five minutes.

“Inessential” is the word that best suits Repeater; it’s generic to many a fault. Again, the name doesn’t lie, as Frazier’s film certainly repeats old beats to its script’s content.

Repeater is available in select theatres as well as on VOD and Digital Platforms via Saban Films. And if you want something that repeats the experience of watching this film, FilmTagger can suggest some similar titles.

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