Ava (2020) Review

Pretty generic Spy Thriller with lots of bloody violence and a very generic and predictable plot

Certificate: 15

Director: Tate Taylor

Screenwriter: Matthew Newton

Starring: Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Common

Genre: Action, Crime

Runtime: 96 Minutes

Rating: 2 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

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Lethally beautiful and incredibly efficient in her dangerous line of work, Ava, a taciturn lone wolf and cold-blooded assassin, is starting to develop a conscience. Having beaten her alcohol and substance dependence with the help of Duke, her grizzled mentor and father figure, unstable Ava lets guilt get in the way of closing her “deals”, attracting unwanted attention by breaking protocol. As a result, after a botched attempt to liquidate a high-profile target, Ava finds herself on the receiving end of a kill order, and has to fight for survival. – From IMDB

Originality definitely took a day off when they were penning this film.  Everything about it is formulaic and predictable right from the off.  There are a multitude of Spy thrillers about broken and troubled individuals finding themselves the target of their own operation, and so many of them have been done better than this.  With the huge success of the ‘John Wick’ franchise it shouldn’t be surprising that people are trying to copy that winning formula, but this one falls woefully short of its intended mark.

It tried really hard to be a serious and gritty thriller, really focusing on Ava’s troubled past with substance abuse and a less than desirable family life.  Instead the whole thing just felt flat, and unemotional. I didn’t care that much about Ava’s story, as it wasn’t really made relevant to what was happening currently.  It gave a good backstory for the character to explain how she got here, but the plot in the present needed more fleshing out to make it interesting.

It’s always sad when disappointing films are filled with such potential. And when the three main players in a film are Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich and Colin Farrell, that is a whole  lot of amazing potential.  The role suits Chastain well enough, she holds her own well in the physical scenes and we all know that she can pull off dramatic scenes fabulously.  Farrell really needed a winner under his belt after the debacle that was Artemis Fowl earlier this year, this film will not that winner.  Instead his standout performance of the year will probably be The Gentlemen. Malkovich has proven his acting chops over and over again, and therefore I have no idea how he found himself here. 

The fight scenes were well choreographed and well shot, but it is hard to believe that Ava should take the amount of punishment she does, especially at the end, at literally just walk away, no limp, nothing.  Or that an aging Duke, could hold up against a much younger and spryer Simon.  The fights are great to look at, but lack realism.  Even John Wick is limping in the end.

Generic and Unsurprising, this is one Spy Thriller that I would recommend you skip.  If you must check it out for yourself, ‘Ava’ is streaming on Netflix.  And is available to Rent/Buy on Amazon Prime.

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