The Collective (2023) Review
“We sleep soundly in our beds, because rough men stand ready in the night to do violence on those who would harm us”.George Orwell
In The Collective, the new film by director Tom DeNucci (Army of the Damned, Johnny & Clyde) and writers Jason James and Matthew Rogers (Code Name Banshee, The Survivalist) those men and women belong to the titular agency, a group of ethical assassins under the direction of Liam (Don Johnson, Cold in July, High Heat). Their mission is to take down those who are above the reach of justice.
A man, we’ll find out shortly that his name is Sam (Lucas Till, X-Men: Apocalypse, The Disappointments Room), lets himself into a house through a window and begins gunning down masked guards until he reaches his target whom he promptly shoots in the head and snaps a photo as proof of his success. Turns out he was firing paintballs, it was a test to see if he had what it takes to join The Collective. Having proven his skills, he’s promptly given a desk job helping to decide what contracts the agency should accept, something he’s not happy about.
Of course, he’s not going to stay there for long, and he’s soon on the case of Miro Lindell (Paul Ben-Victor, The Amityville Murders, The Wire) a human trafficker whose wealth and connections, not to mention his enforcers Daisy (Ruby Rose, SAS: Red Notice, The Doorman) and Nikita, played by Mercedes Varnado who has been in several episodes of The Mandalorian but is still better known under her pro wrestling monikers Sasha Banks and Mercedes Monè, render untouchable.
There’s a scene in the first act where we see Hugo (Tyrese Gibson, Come Out Fighting, Dangerous), another of The Collective’s assassins on a mission while Sam explains to Liam how he would carry it out in a totally different manner. It not only delivers a bit of action, it gives us a look into Sam’s mind and how the character thinks. It’s probably no surprise when I say the two of them end up working together as well.
Unfortunately, that’s about the only time The Collective really breaks out of the mould. The plot hits plenty of the usual notes for a film like this. Hero is recruited and gets some on-the-job training from a veteran agent. Then the mission goes sideways, and he has to trust his own instincts and disobey orders in order to bring down the villains. Standard fare for a DTV thriller.
The difference here though is that The Collective mostly gets the formula right There are enough action scenes to keep the film from dragging, and they are for the most part staged well apart from the one where bad guys keep pouring through a door even after it’s obvious Sam and Hugo are picking them off as they do.
The filmmakers also avoid the common mistake of having a bland villain He’s a human trafficker so, of course, he’s going to be hateable, but they give him a few quirks like singing to a caged victim, to make sure he isn’t another generic bad guy and Paul Ben-Victor leans into it nicely. It’s actually Sam, with his lawyer turned assassin because he saw too many guilty people walk free backstory that seems a little bland by comparison. Indeed, a lack of backstories on all the good guys is something that should be corrected in any sequels.
The Collective is a solid thriller that doesn’t break any new ground, but does deliver the action that people tune into these films for. And, unlike another high-profile film on the topic, it doesn’t make any claims to being true, so you can enjoy it without controversy.
Quiver Distribution will release The Collective in theatres as well as to VOD and Digital Platforms on August 4th.