Dog’s Movie House: “Ava” Wastes Great Cast In Mediocre “John Wick” Wannabe!
“Ava” is the first name of Chastain’s character, an elite-level assassin who just happens to be an recovering addict. (Not a great combination if you ask me, but hey, I didn’t write the script.) That particular cocktail gets her into trouble when a job goes south. Her handler Duke (John Malkovich) vouches for her but his employer Simon (Farrell) decides it’s easier to off her. Thus begins a cat and mouse game between Ava and other nameless assassins until we get to the inevitable showdown between Ava and Simon. The story tries to add layers of nuance by addressing her addictions as well as a gambling problem involving Ava’s former boyfriend (Common) and a local loan shark (Joan Chen with nothing to do). Unfortunately all that does is slow the movie down.
In hindsight, Tate Taylor (“The Help”) may not have been the right director for this type of film. The script by Matthew Newton doesn’t do him any favors, but Taylor is clearly much better at drama then he is at action. There are some good scenes in this film, particularly between Chastain and Geena Davis as Ava’s mother, and again between Chastain and Malkovich. They don’t make the movie any better, mind you, but as individual scenes they’re quite good. The action scenes, unfortunately, fall into the realm of mediocre at best. There is no energy to them and the fact that Bear McCreary’s score bears a striking resemblance to the music in the John Wick films only serves to remind how much better those movies are.
The performances are fine for what they are, but the flimsy, cliched script makes any attempt at emotional depth seem ham-handed. Chastain does the best she can, as do the others, but there is only so much she can do and all of her efforts don’t make us care about her character very much. Davis, Common, Farrell and Malkovich are veteran pros, but the script hobbles them as well. Great action thrillers are a combination of wonderful stunt work and engaging characters. Unfortunately “Ava” has neither. 2 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!