Having endured his legendary twelve labors, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.
Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.
A lone man, recently released from prison, seeks out the people from his past who he believes betrayed him. While he forces each to atone for their sins, he must also face what meting out vengeance will do to his immortal soul. Meanwhile, he's not the only one looking to settle old scores. Hired by the man responsible for the events which lead him to prison, an eccentric contract killer follows his every move. Scenes of them crossing paths, sometimes violently, are interspersed with the assassin's self-realizations of how to deal with struggles within his own life. As if old enemies & hired guns aren't enough, a young female detective begrudgingly works alongside a veteran investigator looking to simply survive his last two weeks on the force before retirement, as they seek out the brazen ex-con who has been blazing a path of gasoline-powered destruction in his vintage Chevelle. Written by
I was surprised by this somewhat. I expected a brainless revenge thriller. What I got was a nicely crafted caper, a throwback, a homage, to several genre films.
The storytelling was straight to the point, almost linear. A vengeful juggernaut-The Rock-gets out of jail and seeks revenge for his murdered brother. He's as focused as a laser missile. An eclectic cast of characters are in his way. A strung-out cop out for redemption (Billy Bob Thornton), a neurotic hit-man and various unsavory people.
I thought this was nice nod to 70s style vengeance driven movies and somewhat reminiscent of Richard Stark/Donald Westlake's PARKER character (seen, in its most recent incarnation in PAYBACK, starring MEL Gibson: one man seeking revenge against fellow criminals). A man focused on his mission. The Rock is a cold-blood murder machine. Nothing heroic or even sympathetic about this guy, which makes him fascinating to watch as he runs down his list.
This movie doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it is a nice cure for the sugar coated holiday releases flooding our cinemas. A nice balance of violence, solid acting and some great music provided by THE HEAVY.
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