Frank Grillo stars as Jacob in recent Defiant Screen Entertainment release Reprisal, a bank manager, whom after a bank robbery, begins to try and track down the perpetrator, Gabriel (Jonathon Schaech), alongside his retired cop neighbour James (Bruce Willis). The title ‘Reprisal’ is quite fitting in terms of the story as it’s not just Jacob seeking out revenge on Gabriel, but after Jacob foils one of Gabriel’s robbery attempts, Gabriel also goes after Jacob.
Reprisal is a low quality b-grade action film at best. It certainly tries to bring in an original perspective using the bank manager as a main character, but he more or less becomes a vigilante – a character we’ve all seen before. Jacob does try to go down the legal path of following the suspect and calling the cops, but he fails massively because he fails to advise the police the location where Gabriel is working out of, presumably information that would have largely aided in his capture. Grillo comes through with his career intact as Jacob however, he’s a capable support actor and handles the lead roles in these types of films with aplomb. I’d like to see him in the lead of a blockbuster though to see how he goes as I’ve followed his career since the first season of Prison Break.
Bruce Willis as James is Willis scraping the bottom of the barrel as he has done for a few years now. His star-power, aside from his iconic roles as David Dunn and John McClane, seems to have fizzled out as he takes on more and movie b-grade movie roles. After watching the special features and doing some reading on Willis’s 2010 effort Cop Out, helmed by Kevin Smith, I learnt that Willis is incredibly difficult to work with. I wonder if this is a factor, as cast and crew seem to be less and less inclined to take shit from bigger actors. We all remember when Christian Bale was forced to apologise after inappropriately having a go at a cast member on set of Terminator: Salvation.
Schaech’s output as Gabriel is fine, his character is angry as the treatment of his father from the American government and Schaech shows this anger with ease. I was a little taken aback by how angry how he seemed until his motivation was revealed. His voice is deep and raspy, lines feel almost forced – you can feel his irritation and frustration easily.
Experienced B-grade director Brian A. Miller makes the least of this latest script from novice screenwriter Bryce Hammons. The direction from Miller and editing from Ryan Dufrene is cringeworthily in parts. Moments where the camera blurs, which don’t fit in with the film, fast cuts that make no sense. The scene where we are introduced to James is one of the worst I’ve seen put on film. Jacob leaves his house and yells out to James who’s in his back yard working out. It cuts to Willis’s face where he gives the camera one of the most intense looks ever put to film, it changes angles again and then without Bruce uttering a sentence cuts back to Jacob walking away. Then all of a sudden James replies, the sentence which was clearly added in later, sounds completely out of place and sets the stage for what we are about to witness. In all honesty the idea had potential to be a solid R-rated thriller but Scheach’s character is never truly let off of his leash, his anger never really explored and the lengths both Gabriel and Jacob would be willing to go to is never really established.
Reprisal is a B-grade film that only Grillo and Schaech can be proud off. Their efforts in this film will go unrewarded due to how badly it is put together – I watched the making of featurette on the blu-ray and it was far more interesting than the film itself. Unless you’re a die-hard Grillo or Schaech film, don’t stress if you miss this one. If it weren’t for those two performers this would be a zero rating.
Director: Brian A. Miller
Cast: Frank Grillo, Bruce Willis, Johnathon Schaech
Writer: Bryce Hammons