Take a look to your left. We've got a gun toting Milla Jovovich on the slick doing her best La Femme Nikita impression, a title that is reminiscent of an Abel Ferrara revenge classic, and a tagline that reads "Nobody does revenge like a woman". Surely, after having seen all that, it would not be entirely unreasonable to assume that .45 might be an action packed tale about a woman done wrong who paints the gutters red in an orgy of retributive violence, would it? Would it?!
|Director: Gary Lennon
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Angus Macfadyen, Stephen Dorff, Sarah Strange, Aisha Tyler
Screenplay: Gary Lennon
Music: John Robert Wood
Tagline: Nobody does revenge like a woman.
On the seedy streets of New York's Hell's Kitchen, Kat (Milla Jovovich) is desired by many but finds herself stuck in a going nowhere relationship with petty crook/gun dealer Big Al (Angus Macfadyen). Their relationship has its highs and lows, and while Kat does at least seem happy enough with his performance in the sack (wanna know why he's called "Big" Al? Take a guess) the big guy is also a paranoid and intimidating partner, and when physical violence is eventually brought into their relationship Kat decides to turn the tables and initiates a scheme for revenge…
That's the plot of .45 in a nutshell, but while the film may sound like a gun-toting revengesploitationer on paper it's really more of an examination of a dysfunctional and abusive relationship, which doesn't deliver much vengeance but gives us a lot of chin wagging. The actual planning of Kat's payback doesn't come until fairly late in the piece, and even then the story doesn't end with a kill crazy rampage as Kat uses her street smarts - not an arsenal of firepower - to resolve the situation. That's not really a criticism as such however - in fact the chat heavy script from writer/director Gary Lennon is full of catchy and profane dialogue (those offended by the C word should stay away!), and his collection of likeable and thoroughly dislikable characters are brought to life by an enthusiastic and uninhibited cast of performers. Jovovich (who can actually act, despite what some might have you believe) is tough, sexy, smart, and vulnerable in the lead role, and she is backed up by a talented support cast which includes B-movie regular Stephen Dorff, but it is Angus Macfadyen who steals the show, and chews much of the scenery, as Big Al. This guy truly is piece of work! He's cocky, he's slimy, he's entertaining … and just when you think Big Al might actually be the sort of bloke you'd like to have a few beers with his mood changes radically and we see a side of him which isn't very funny at all. Indeed, the sequence where he bursts into a fit of drunken rage and beats and brutalizes Kat for a good five minutes isn't easy to watch.
As a first time director Lennon doesn't do anything too flashy (no MTV style shit here folks), and actually gives the film a documentary like feel at times, with the set design and use of grimy street locations adding to the gritty realism. The guy obviously has talent, and I look forward to seeing what else he has up his sleeve.
Often hilarious, sometimes offensive, and occasionally unsettling, .45 may have put a pin in my revenge seeking bubble, but it's still a palatable piece of direct-to-DVD entertainment which is similar in tone to something like The Boondock Saints and would have fit snugly into the post-Tarantino wave of filmmaking in the mid-90's.