- Movie Rating -

Defiance (2022)

| March 14, 1980

Sometimes you get a feeling for things unspoken.  Like, even though you’re watching a movie that is completely disposable, someone during the production had a feeling for it that wasn’t made of green paper.  All around the edges of the action-revenge picture Defiance, lie hints that perhaps somebody wanted to make it.  That doesn’t make the movie good, but it does give me a sense that even when a movie doesn’t work, perhaps someone wanted to make a good movie.

What you get here is a movie that feels like it was made out of spare parts.  It borrows pieces from Death Wish and Dirty Harry and grafts them onto a plot that would seem like a natural fit for Chuck Norris.  It’s one of those lone wolf movies in which the underdogs get tired of being bullied and run down by the criminal element until one man stands up and takes action.

That man is Tommy and he is played in a bland performance by Jan Michael Vincent which was probably due to reports that he spent much of the movie either inebriated or hung-over.  Anyway, Tommy is a seaman who has lost his license to work and is stuck in a rundown ghetto in New York City until he can get things worked out.  Unfortunately this neighborhood is controlled by The Souls, a violence street gang who have been terrorizing good-hearted residents like Abe (Art Carney), Carmine (Danny Aiello) and Marsha (Teresa Saldana).  The gang is run by the ruthless Angel (Rudy Ramos) a walking stereotype whose entire being is dominated by threats of violence followed by actual violence.  Tommy, naturally, wants nothing to do with any of this, until The Souls cross the line and that spurs him to not only confront the gang but also to encourage his friends to do the same.

What is tiresome about the movie are the action scenes which have no heft, no thrills and really no more juice than the latest Norris picture.  But where it stands apart are in its attempts to build characters.  Yes, the villains are all stereotypes but the group of friends that Tommy defends are really drawn as people.  That’s probably because they are played by good actors.  In that, you sense that director Joe Flynn (whose last film was the underrated Rolling Thunder) perhaps wanted to elevate this dreck above the norm and really make something.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2022) View IMDB Filed in: Action