John Gold is back – all 6ft 7in of him. After making his debut in 2018’s I Am Vengeance, the mild-mannered ex-forces hardman played by former WWE wrestler and bare-knuckle boxer Stu Bennett gets a sequel. The first of many, no doubt. This time, Gold is heading up the crew tasked with bringing in a traitor and former comrade in arms (Vinnie Jones). In exchange, Gold will receive an unofficial government pardon for all the military rule-bending he got up to in the first film.
The script efficiently dispenses with such necessary exposition in a few lines of dialogue: “Elite operative gone rogue” … something something … “black site facility” … something something. Then they’re off, bouncing from punch-up to car crash to punch-up, then another punch-up, with some barracks banter in between. (The budgets of British action flicks rarely stretch to Die Hard-style explosions.)
This is the kind of film where the fight choreographer (Tim Man) gets higher billing than the director of photography (Simon Rowling), and Jones stands out for his naturalistic acting abilities. Seriously, though, Jones has a genuine charisma and a light comic touch evident since the Lock Stock days, and he applies both to playing the amiably amoral villain Sean Teague, with pleasing results. No one else in this can really act, but they can all fight, including the women, and I Am Vengeance is impressively equal opportunities when it comes to divvying up screen time.
For all its rough edges, there’s a pure-hearted passion for movie-making evident here, that’s often awol in slicker productions. You have also got to admire writer-director Ross Boyask’s thick-skinned productivity. He’s going to keep on churning out this post-pub fare until he runs out of synonyms for “vengeance”, isn’t he? And there’s nothing a bunch of film snobs can do about it.
• I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is available on digital platforms from 13 July.
Source: The Guardian