Movie Review: Payback (The Debt Collectors) (2020) Starring Scott Adkins & Louis Mandylor
From Jesse V. Johnson, the director of Triple Threat and Avengement, comes the Scott Adkins-led actioner, Payback aka The Debt Collectors.
So what's the premise? Well, after skirting death, debt collectors French (Scott Adkins - Avengement, Doctor Strange) and Sue (Louis Mandylor - Rambo: Last Blood, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) get back to doing what they do best - cracking skulls and breaking bones - as they chase down the various lowlifes who owe money to their boss, Tommy (Vladimir Kulich - The Equalizer, Vikings).
The collectors get summoned to Las Vegas to collect from a dirty casino owner, who happens to be a vicious ex-lover of Sue's. Meanwhile, a notorious drug kingpin is on the warpath to kill French and Sue to avenge his brother’s death. Facing danger from all angles, the pair has no other choice but to fight their way out of an explosively dangerous situation.
Having not seen the first film, 2018's The Debt Collector, I was unsure about diving straight into this sequel, thinking I should probably check it out first, but the film gently guides you in and seeing the original is not required, however, you'll want to go back and watch it after seeing Payback; it's solid old skool action fun.
Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor have effortless chemistry and the characters of French and Sue bounce of each other well; they are a cross between the usual buddy cop type dynamic and in someways a bickering married couple lost on holiday arguing over the map. Ultimately, it's they who make the film work due to their banterish repartee and it's their relationship that keeps you invested in the proceedings, leading to some quality comedic highs and dramatic lows. So yeah, get ready to actually care about a couple of characters for once.
The highlight, asides from the dynamic between the film's leads, is a knock-down alleyway brawl. It's not only a solid bare-knuckle slug-fest well shot by director Jesse V. Johnson, it's also emotionally impactful, as, up until that point, the set-up and development ensures the scene is loaded with drama and you don't really see it coming.
Overall, it's a decent watch. Nothing that will change the world but a well executed action flick with heart. The plots gets going as Sue seeks out French to make that classic "one last job" type of offer, and while that's not the only cliche, the film mainly leans into them and just goes for entertainment value over anything revolutionary.
One of the film's strengths could also been viewed as a weakness. The movie meticulously takes its time to setup the plot, reintroduce and develop the lead characters -- where they are in life for this sequel -- with a focus on "scenes", so some may find it slow to get going compared to some of the more frenetic action flicks from the past decade. The action scenes are cleanly shot and framed so you don't lose your bearings, but similar to how the story carefully unfolds, if you're looking for fast paced, frantic quick edits and shaky cam, then it's probably not going to get your pulse racing. However, if you want an action film with likeable characters, a steady pace, and with cheeky, quippy banter dialogue, the you should check this one out.
Coming to digital on 8 June and DVD 6 July.
Pre-order on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/payback-2020/id1512162553
Payback is helmed by Jesse V. Johnson (the acclaimed director of Triple Threat and Avengement) and stars Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Vladimir Kulich, Mayling Ng, Vernon Wells, Josef Cannon, Jermaine Jacox, and Mariano 'Big Dawg' Mendoza.
Featured Image & Promo Art: Payback (aka The Debt Collectors) (2020), Dazzler Media
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