Orlando Bloom, known for the Lord of the Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, occasionally pops up in something other, reminding us that he can in actual fact act. Having last seen him in Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown, I’ve not been rushing to watch the next movie that he was starring in. However, this Shammasian Bros film, Retaliation had some hard-hitting and gritty themes, and I was curious if he would be able to handle these. Unexpectedly, he was.
Despite the title (spoiler alert), Retaliation, doesn’t carry the revenge message that you believe this film is building to. While the trailer for Ludwig and Paul Shammasian’s sophomore feature film suggests that it will be a confrontational vengeance film there is something more to Retaliation that gives it a darker edge than what you could initially imagine. Handling trauma, toxic relationships, aggression and many other themes this is a formidable film that feels weighty and substantial.
There are several religious undertones within the film from the relentless statue of Jesus in the frame, to the fact that these construction workers (Bloom being one) are tearing down a church. And as we later realise that connection to the church and priest is pivotal to the synopsis, one which disrupts and destroys Bloom’s character, Malky’s, life. Carrying trauma and affecting scenes from his childhood, there is much that gets in the way of Malky’s relationship with Emma (Janet Montgomery), and is the obvious basis for their unhealthy and toxic foundations.
Foundations are another theme that is evoked from this notion of tearing down the church but also of the beginnings of things, as we consider Malky’s relationships with many around him, Joe (Alex Ferns), Mother (Anne Reid) and Emma. The metaphorical foundations of the church, Christianity and religion are questioned throughout this film, and it’s clear that the filmmakers do not side with the institutions.
The directors get some darn decent performances out of the aforementioned cast and not only that heighten the drama as we await a confessional scene that has us in suspense. The gritty rawness of the life and cinematography of this feature add to the grime of Malky’s existence, and it feels all too conceivable, this life that Bloom and the Shammasian’s have created. Handling traumatic themes with sensitivity and conceivability, this is an impressive feat that will mean I won’t be so dismissive of Bloom’s acting career and will take a more active role in seeking out his next move.
Retaliation will be released in digitally on Friday 26th March