The Debt Collector (2018): 6 out of 10: A dojo owner (Scott Adkins) gets a side hustle collecting debts to help save his business and his first weekend out with his new partner (Louis Mandylor) is a lot more than he bargained for.
The Good: These guys deserved a better movie. The characters are fairly well acted with Louis Mandylor, in particular, a standout. The set-up is fine and would also make an excellent film (Think of Stallone in Rocky collecting debts but making the entire movie about that.) There are some good fight scenes and the character interaction keeps the plot moving along for about two-thirds of the movie with limited speed bumps. The film does a pleasant job making one want to see what whacky job or situation the boys are going to get into next.
The Bad: This movie wants so badly to be an old style Tarantino joint. It simply doesn’t have the script to carry the water. The character interaction (good acting aside) seems forced, with Adkins coming across as whiny rather than the snarky I think they were aiming for. These are cartoon characters in a cartoon world playing it very straight. The movie isn’t very realistic. (Protip: Shootouts and fist fights in quiet upscale suburban neighborhoods get the police’s attention very very quickly. I mean, those people call the cops if someone is mowing the lawn incorrectly.)
While the movie has a nice pace with colorful characters for the first two-thirds, it hits a roadblock when it gets serious. Suddenly kids are dying of cancer and somebody has to kneecap Jesus. It is an unfortunate tonal shift where a movie that was about as realistic as Death Wish 3 decides it was going to be End of Watch.
The Ugly: What is it with the black and white newsreel of cattle? Those of you are hoping it isn’t an over the top, on the nose allegory prepare to be very disappointed.
In Conclusion: There is a fun romp buried under all the arty pretension and wannabe Tarantino riffs. Last act tonal shifts aside, I found The Debt Collector enjoyable if eventually disappointing.