Saturday, May 30, 2020

Debt Collectors (2020)

Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Notable Cast: Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Ski Carr, Vladimir Kulich, Charity Collins, Mayling Ng

As both a huge fan of director Jesse V. Johnson and action icon Scott Adkins, I’m always down to partake when either of them release a new film. Put them together and I’m throwing my wallet into their hands. However, when it was announced the two would be re-teaming up for a sequel to The Debt Collector, called Debt Collectors, I was a bit perplexed. You see, if you’ve seen the first film, you know that it definitively ends the story of our two makeshift anti-heroes, French and Sue. There wasn’t a lot of room for a sequel. Yet, here we are with the bickering banter of our two favorite collection agents in this – and I only assume – first sequel to the surprise action hit. While Debt Collectors isn’t quite the pleasantly humorous surprise of the first, it’s still a rock ‘em, sock ‘em slab of entertainment that delivers on all of the expected elements of the first film. It’s impeccably charming, loaded with the usual action awesomeness from the directing and star duo, and gives the fans what they want from a sequel.

Seven months after the events of The Debt Collector, Sue – once again played with the charming trashiness of Louis Mandylor, finds French bouncing at the local bar. A bar that was, more or less, used as a comedic set piece in the first film. French, played by my pick for Batman Scott Adkins (how many letters do I have to write to Warner Bros. to get that to happen?,) is having a rough go of it and Sue gives him the opportunity to get back into the debt collecting game for one last round. Three collections. Two days. $70,000.

As you can imagine, the film quickly deviates to twists and turns related to the first film as the plot is revealed. It’s occasionally a convoluted story, starting with getting our two anti-heroes together in the beginning of the film, but the plot is not the selling point here. Like the first film, Debt Collectors is not too concerned with making the twists, and when those do arrive, most feel like the usual spins one might see in a smaller budget action film rather than truly surprising reveals.

What Debt Collectors provides though doesn’t need any kind of revolutionary script. The reason that this film deserved a sequel is the chemistry and performances from Mandylor and Adkins. Like the first, this next entry heavily relies on their ability to banter like an 80s buddy cop film and they deliver in spades here. The continued underlying heart and comedy of their characters reacting to situations remains the soul of this series and carries the film through its rougher script. Even when the film seems silly, like having our dynamic duo end up in a boxing match, the results are so entertaining to watch that the fact it’s illogical to the plot is irrelevant. It’s just French and Sue, doing what debt collectors do.

 It also sincerely helps that once again Debt Collectors is helmed by Jesse V. Johnson. After delivering TWO of the best action films in 2019 (Avengement and Triple Threat) he returns to this series and delivers another fantastic directorial effort. He perfectly balances the moments of heart, particularly with Sue’s past, and the action with that touch of humor that exists in the dire situations our anti-heroes get themselves into. This film tends to be more of a Sue story than the first, thanks to a final act that sees Adkins disappear for a chunk of time, but Johnson’s ability to navigate the pitfalls of the plotting and concept are certainly on exhibition here. Not to mention, Johnson once again partners up with stunt coordinator Luke LaFontaine to deliver some fantastic street brawling style fight work to punch up the pacing. The highlight, outside of the previously mentioned humor of a boxing match, is the They Live/Quiet Man-inspired alley fight between French and Sue that results in some of the best stunt work and brutal hits of the film. It’s delightfully brutal and honest in its execution.

While Debt Collectors ultimately takes a shuffling step back from the incredible balance of its predecessor, this unlikely sequel is just what action fans ordered. It’s unlikely set up is only made better by the dismissive nature of the two characters, survivors in a world where they only can trust each other to deliver the goods for a brighter future. The action is entertainingly well crafted, the banter is spot on, and the performances easily carry the film through its spotty script.

To be honest, the most disappointing thing about Debt Collectors is if this is the last film in this franchise. Bring on a third one.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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