The Retaliators

Stockbridge, New Jersey, a pleasant town nestled in the wooded hills where John Bishop ministers to his devoted congregation, his loving daughters Sarah and Rebecca in the front pew as they prepare for a Christmas season suddenly struck be tragedy. Travelling to the high school dance, Sarah is driven off the road and killed; worse, Detective Jed Sawyer informs Bishop that the evidence suggests the act was deliberate, targeted.

The evidence pointing to local drug dealer Ram Kady, he has been on Sawyer’s radar for some time yet he has inexplicably delayed intervention until now; apprehending the suspect through unconventional means, the officer presents Bishop the opportunity to unleash his wrath on his daughter’s killer, vengeance beyond the law and off the record, complicity which will require his silence to protect both of them.

The Retaliators credited to three directors, Samuel Gonzalez Jr, Michael Lombardi and Bridget Smith from a script by brothers Darren and Jeff Allen Geare, Lombardi also produces and stars as John Bishop, preaching peace and forgiveness, accustomed to turning the other cheek but quick to rummage around the rusty tools in Sawyer’s torture dungeon when the platitudes and homilies he offers to others fail to give him closure.

Establishing its supposed premise clearly and directly in the opening voiceover as Bishop questions when the weight of sins committed condemn a man who has lived an otherwise righteous life, any aspiration to delve into the ambiguities and contradictions of compromised characters is abandoned in favour of violence and misogyny, most every woman in the film a victim, a stripper, a coked-up whore or all three at once.

Less a movie than a marketing strategy taken hideous life, shot and edited like a music video it is telling that the supporting cast is populated by rock stars, a rampaging biker gang populated by members of Five Finger Death Punch and Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee spotted as a strip club DJ, the heavy soundtrack carrying the film when the script and performances flounder, Sawyer’s actions justified in his mind by the murder of his pregnant wife ten years before by Quinn Brady (Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix).

The ghost of Unborn Elizabeth disturbed when a liberal mayor ordered early release of the notorious serial killer after only six years incarceration, The Retaliators seems to have been created to appeal to a specific audience of right wing America who believe the presence of God is manifested semi-automatic weapons, Jesus conspicuously failing to take the wheel despite endless shots of stained glass windows hanging judgementally as any attempt to present an examination of morality is overwhelmed by a Biblical flood of blood improbably pumping from severed limbs.

The Retaliators will be on general release from Wednesday 14th September



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