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With: Bobby Soto, Cinthya Carmona, Shia LaBeouf, Jose Conejo Martin, Cheyenne Rae Hernandez, Cle Sloan, Richard Mesquita, George Lopez
Written by: David Ayer
Directed by: David Ayer
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 95
Date: 08/07/2020

The Tax Collector (2020)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Wack 'Tax'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

While it creates a vivid urban backdrop and though it has many interesting, dedicated performances, this crime drama is both too wearily familiar and too unrelentingly vicious to really succeed.

In The Tax Collector, David (Bobby Soto) and his childhood friend Creeper (Shia LaBeouf) work for Uncle Louis (George Lopez), and for a mysterious figure known as "Wizard." They are "tax collectors" in South Los Angeles, who make sure protection money is paid. At home David is a loving family man, father and husband to Alexis (Cinthya Carmona), and occasionally shows kindness, letting one man off the hook when he learns that his child has leukemia. Unfortunately, a new, evil crime boss (Jose Conejo Martin) suddenly appears on the scene, looking to take over. And David finds that his own family is threatened. In the end, he has no choice but to head for a showdown.

After the dull thud of his movies Suicide Squad and Bright, filmmaker David Ayer returns to the streets with The Tax Collector, bringing along actor LaBeouf, who worked on Ayer's excellent Fury. LaBeouf reportedly got real tattoos for his role, though, unfortunately, his character doesn't have much to do other than act psychotic and misogynistic. That kind of detail, which also includes LaBeouf's cauliflower ears and the sign language used by Uncle Louis and David, promise a much richer movie than what we actually get.

The plot of The Tax Collector consists of ancient elements from any number of action-adventures and Westerns, and there's hardly a surprise in sight. And because things feel so manufactured, the performers, who seem to be trying, tend to be stifled. They end up slavishly serving the story, rather than emerging as living, breathing characters. Even the slo-mo showdown feels just a little too tired, except for the insane levels of blood and violence. But, given that so much of it is directed toward women, it moves past thrills and into cringeworthy territory.

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