The cliche “tough guy with a heart of gold” is at the center of “The Enforcer,” but there’s nothing new or complicated about it. Despite this, the movie is still enjoyable because of Antonio Banderas’ star charisma as a veteran mob strong-arm who turns against his own organization to rescue an imperiled teen. With the stylish and slick direction of “Point Break’s” Peter Hoare, everything improves somewhat. But despite a solid W. Peter Iliff story that maintains its entertaining originality, the effects are still restrained by an uninspired “Point Break” screenwriter with an ordinary script.
Billy (Zolee Griggs) is a foster-home runaway who’s 15 years old and out of prison after serving time for deeds done in service to Miami syndicate boss Estelle (Kate Bosworth). He aims to rebuild ties with his 15-year-old daughter, but she’s wary after his lengthy absence. Perhaps as a result of this, he takes an overbearing fatherly attitude toward Billie (Zolee Griggs), a foster home runaway who is also 15. Billie is saved from punishment for shoplifting by Rick, who protects her from getting arrested and ensures that she has a place to stay so that she will not be on the streets he is all too aware are unsafe. Billie is soon abducted from her short-term refuge, most likely by sex traffickers, and Cuda quickly understands that the perpetrators are very likely connected to his own employer.
This is the type of film that attacks exploitation while still providing us a slew of salacious views of barely-dressed females in strip clubs, kinky sex dungeons, and so on. Even more perplexing is the notion that Cuda – aka “The Barracuda” — a famously violent enforcer who appropriately wreaks havoc among numerous offenders here but now feels compelled to risk it all for one wide-eyed youngster. Did it never occur to him that Estelle’s enterprises run on the foundation of such abuse? It is beyond the plan to acknowledge any contradiction or change in his conduct. He’s just a decent, bad guy, for all intents and purposes.
Despite the fact that he appears to be wasted so soon after excellent range-stretching performances in films like “Official Competition” and “Pain and Glory,” Banderas does manage to bring respect and gravitas to a part that may have easily fallen victim to wooden macho postures. If he can’t make anything better, his presence at least helps to tone down the monotony.
Some of the worst dialogue is spoken by Bosworth in her role as a villainess. She uses a duplicitous, honey-like voice that never changes until Estelle’s florid exit scene. Wearing a black vamp wig, that character provides a scant opportunity to an adept performer who just portrayed numerous layers of ambiguity in both “House of Darkness” and “The Immaculate Room.”
The third lead, Mojean Aria, is a rootless young streetfighter who becomes Cuda’s professional protégé– which says very little about the writing itself. The fact that this figure is called “Stray” tells you just how much thought went into the writing. Although he’s quite talented, the Australian actor can’t do much to flesh out the lack of depth in this character. They did manage to fill some of the supporting parts competently; although a few were uneven efforts from personnel drafted from various places such as modeling agencies or hip-hop groups.
“The Enforcer” makes do with neon-noir style for its first hour or so, with DP Callan Green’s widescreen images and other design elements laying on “hot” colors to nicely portray a mostly nocturnal Miami flavor. (Their success is highlighted by the viewer’s surprise when the film’s credits reveal that it was really filmed in Thessaloniki, Greece.) In a climactic 20 minutes, bodies pile up as Hughes demonstrates some skill at staging action, even if certain sequences seem implausible. The steady pacing of Editors Damian Gomez and Mattias Morheden makes for a relaxing but not particularly thrilling or tense viewing experience.
But the film’s sad tone — not aided by its opening, which gives away a lot of what happens later on — can’t be fully achieved with so little depth to draw from. It never grasps anything more than the generic as it reaches for the extreme. The Enforcer (not to be confused with numerous others of the same title, notably Clint Eastwood’s 1976 Dirty Harry entry) will premiere 10 U.S. screens on September 23, followed by VOD availability.
Movie Name: The Enforcer
Watch free: Cinemahdv2
Cast Leads: Antonio Banderas, Kate Bosworth, Mojean Aria, Natalie Burn, Zolee Griggs
Director: Richard Hughes
Producer: Jeffrey Greenstein, Yariv Lerner , Robert Van Norden, Les Weldon, Jonathan Yunger
Written by: W. Peter Iliff
Music: Giorgio Giampà
Director Of Photography: Callan Green
Movie Rating: 2.3/5