Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Ava

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Copyright: Vertical Entertainment

WHILST the slate of releases for this year wanes ever thinner, it’s nice to see that cheap, sloppy action films are thriving in this time of global uncertainty.

Where would we be without the likes of Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal and Nicolas Cage clogging up my schedule with their latest offering of weak, ill-filtered, bland releases? We’d be in a far greater state than we are currently, that’s for sure. Ava is the latest bland entrant into the genre, proving once and for all that no actor can make a totally barren script work whatsoever. 

Trope-heavy, Ava relies on its inability to move away from the predictable.

An assassin, who for years, I assume, has carried out her job with relative competence, suddenly finds herself in a job going wrong. Fighting for survival, we follow our titular Ava (Jessica Chastain) as she races against those wanting her dead, to uncover the expected twists and turns that accompany this sort of action flick.

At least this breakdown of order is reliant on human error, rather than some grandiose double-cross, or at least it seems that way initially. Yes, it seems that no matter which talent is reeled into this sort of film, the attraction of cliché is never out of reach.  

There are a great deal of inarticulate sub-plots looking to steal away the spotlight. A love triangle featuring Chastain and Common has underlying effects on the main storyline for some reason.

It never crops up until the very end of the film, with littered, plodding approaches made to its development in the earlier stages of the film, but by then an audience should be hooked on the far more fascinating world of Colin Farrell and John Malkovich running an assassin agency. No resolution or happy ending can be found in these sub-plots anyway, most are left loose and untied, whilst others are underwhelming and sudden conclusions to otherwise well-paced stories. 

What could’ve been a relatively engaging action piece is rather underwhelming, thanks to some ineffective, glazed-over camera shots. The cinematography and just general handiwork of director Tate Taylor makes for a flimsy and ultimately clumsy effort. Trying too much to have the neon aesthetics that John Wick made popular (even ripping off the nightclub scene of the second film), Ava has nothing unique to offer or say.

Every moment of the film has been articulated better, elsewhere.

Its action is dry and weak, its characters never amount to anything more than walking stereotypes of the genre, it feels like a completely neutered, neutral approach to a genre where anything is possible, and, more importantly, believable.  

A talented cast of heavy-hitting names yields nothing of interest here, with Ava retiring itself to generic action sequences and some rather poor storytelling. We can’t have expected anything more from the director of The Girl on the Train. Predictable, barren of almost any originality and fun, it’s a forgettable action piece that you’ll waste 90 minutes on without any form of attachment to the characters or events of the film.

But even with these awful tropes, the poor writing oozes off of the screen and turns into something that is arguably mindlessly entertaining. The strengths of these performers really carry the burden of this story, but to think for a second that they pull it off with a grace or respect is to think too much of this bitterly disappointing release.