I don’t think U.S. marketing knew what to do with RETALIATION, considering that this movie was just released recently in the States, but back in 2017 overseas and under a different (and more sensible) title, Romans. If you look up the movie on popular streaming services like VUDU, FandangoNow or Amazon Prime Video you will see Lord of the Rings’ Orlando Bloom’s face front and center, all beat up, holding a hammer and the hand holding it all bloody, with a look of…well… revenge and retaliation on his face. Per IMDB.com, it describes this movie as such: “An adult victim (Bloom) of childhood sexual abuse confronts the horrors of his past.” To expand just a tiny little bit on my own for you to understand the point I’m eventually going to make in terms of being marketed incorrectly, this childhood sexual abuse is from a priest that raped him when he was 12 years old. Believe it or not, IMDB has the better description of this movie (not to mention it correctly lists it as a 2017 film). Let’s take a look at VUDU’s description: “Malky, a demolition worker whose life receives a seismic shock when, out drinking with friends at a local pub, he sees a disturbing figure from his past: the man he holds responsible for a traumatic childhood incident. Fueled by anger, Malky sets out on a path of vengeance–and discovers that no one can escape the consequences of their sins in this taut thriller.” Thriller…pfft. So combine that brief description with the visual marketing to get you to rent or buy the movie, No go and watch the trailer. I’m serious, go and do it, this might be the only time where I recommend you do before diving head first into a movie. You’ll thank me later.
Done watching the trailer? Okay, so now, combine VUDU’s description of the film, the visual stupid direct to U.S. video on demand image of Blood beaten up and holding a hammer, as well as the trailer you just watched. What movie does it seem like it is going to be to you? A revenge thriller where Orlando Bloom goes all “crazy” and kills a bunch of pedophile priests? WRONG. It is not that movie, but here’s a twist you didn’t see coming, I knew that going in. So this review isn’t going to be how my expectations were damaged because of false advertising. No, I’m determined to give you different expectations before you watch this movie (if you watch it) so that you don’t hate it after you view it or if you’ve already seen this and hated it, why you shouldn’t hate it that much because it isn’t the movies’ fault. For me, Retaliation is a hard to watch, half way decent, one time viewing featuring Orlando Bloom’s incredible, best performance to date. The movie is hard to watch because there are a couple of self mutilation scenes that make make you gasp and/or stomach churn. However, they are necessary as it correlates with the themes of the movie and make sense with the protagonist’s plight. At first the movie makes you think it is going to be a revenge type thriller, but quickly pulls a 180, being more of a very slow burn character piece that is much more juicy narrative wise with a pitch perfect ending. I’m glad it took the 180 route, because if it hadn’t, and it was just a straight tale of revenge, then my disappointed feelings with The Last Of Us Part II would’ve effected by critique greatly.
But it doesn’t! Just expect a lot of characters talking to each other, some love and friend mishaps, ‘mommy issues’, several long (and very well written) monologues where Orlando Bloom vents his frustrations about what to do with his thoughts and demons, followed by an earned final 10-15 minutes. Don’t expect ‘Kill Pedophile Priests: The Movie.’ The film doesn’t overstay its welcome at a lean hour and 35 minutes and to watch Orlando Bloom powerfully and emotionally steal every scene he is in was an acting treat to behold. He’s never ever ever been this good. If this was a normal movie, released under normal circumstances, he probably could’ve been considered for Awards at some point. Alas, maybe something else down the line, he’s still young. I can’t get into the writing and directing history of the filmmakers involved all that much, because I’ve never seen any of their other work, but I can say that the dialogue was believable and true to the subject matter, and the direction was dark, moody, and the shots looked good. Look, I’m not a religious person at all, I just admitted on social media that I’m an Athiest (especially in part with the whole priest sexual abuse allegations that have been going on for quite some time), but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to respect the source material if it happens to be in a movie. Far from it, as after watching this I wish it would’ve been released in the U.S. under its original title, Romans, the film being centered on that part in the Bible that talks about enemies and forgiveness. That title makes so much more sense, especially near the end. I don’t know who the fuck came up with ‘Retaliation’ but they need to be crucified.