Monday 14 August 2023

REVIEW: The Collective (2023) - Starring Lucas Till, Ruby Rose, Mercedes Varnado, Paul Ben-Victor, Tyrese Gibson and Don Johnson

Review by Jon Donnis
"The Collective," directed by Tom DeNucci and penned by Jason James and Matthew Rogers, takes audiences on a journey into the morally complex world of a righteous assassin organization determined to dismantle an impervious human trafficking ring operated by formidable billionaires. While the film follows a formulaic pattern common to direct-to-video thrillers, it manages to deliver moments of intrigue and action that should keep you engaged.

The story revolves around a group of skilled assassins, known as The Collective, led by the authoritative Liam (Don Johnson). Their mission: to eliminate the seemingly untouchable individuals who profit from heinous crimes. The plot introduces Sam (Lucas Till), a rookie assassin whose skills are put to the test through a cleverly staged mission. As Sam is reluctantly assigned to a desk job, he quickly yearns for more meaningful action. His desire to contribute actively to the cause propels him into a dangerous investigation involving the elusive human trafficker Miro Lindell (Paul Ben-Victor), aided by enforcers Daisy (Ruby Rose) and Nikita (Mercedes "Sasha Banks" Varnado).

Despite adhering to a conventional narrative template, "The Collective" offers glimpses into the characters' minds and motivations. Sam's analytical approach (which was instantly remind you of his previous acting role of MacGyver), is showcased well in a scene where he discusses an assassination mission with Hugo (Tyrese Gibson), providing insight into his strategic thinking. While the film treads the familiar path of a novice stepping up and defying orders to achieve justice, it does manage to add depth to its protagonist's development.

The cast, including familiar names like, Ruby Rose, and Don Johnson, contributes to the film's watchability, always nice to see recognisable faces. Till's portrayal of Sam exhibits a mix of determination and vulnerability, effectively driving the character's evolution. Ruby Rose's Daisy exudes an enigmatic toughness, while Don Johnson brings a seasoned gravitas to Liam's leadership role. Mercedes Varnado's portrayal of Nikita offers a refreshing departure from her wrestling persona, though it could have been explored more.

Where "The Collective" falters is in its reliance on well-worn tropes. The hero's journey from desk duty to field action is predictable, and the plot offers few genuine surprises. The film's climactic showdown lacks the ingenuity and tension necessary to make it truly memorable. While the partnership between Sam and Hugo adds an interesting dynamic, it ultimately adheres to expected mentor-mentee dynamics.

In spite of these shortcomings, "The Collective" manages to salvage itself through sporadic bursts of action and character-driven intrigue. The film's pacing keeps audiences engaged, and its thematic exploration of vigilante justice and morality adds a layer of depth to the proceedings. While not groundbreaking, the movie serves as a competent entry into the action thriller genre.

The Good
I really like Lucas Till in this role; he has proven he can carry the lead in an action setting plenty of times in the MacGyver TV series, and this film lets him showcase his acting chops in a movie setting.

The action scenes are all well done, everything looks sharp, well directed etc. 

The Bad
I've already mentioned that this is pretty much a clich├ęd action film, very paint by numbers, nothing really original, or particularly memorable about the film. I see it very much as one of those films you will find on demand in a few years and forget you have already seen it.

Although the film isn't very original, it is still an enjoyable action thriller. The strong cast with some recognisable faces really helps here. 

I score The Collective a solid 7.5/10

Out now on digital, check it out on Apple TV at