Review: Ava (2020)

Ava is a stylish action drama with high aspirations but delivers a messy final product. A good promotional campaign, strong cast and lots of potential but struggles to create an identity. 


Ava is a high end assassin who ends up fighting for her survival when a job goes wrong. As per the official synopsis that is the bulk of what the movie is about and had that been deeper layered then it might have been more interesting. Unfortunately the story goes backwards and forwards between Ava being a deadly assassin and dealing with her family issues.

I found Jessica Chastain’s Ava as an assassin believable and interesting. She has a deep relationship with her handler Duke played by John Malkovich and I wanted to see more about this which unfortunately the story doesn’t focus on. We scratch the surface regarding their relationship but I wanted to see more, I wanted to know how they meet, why they become friends, how they have helped each other yet the movie doesn’t give this any great focus.

A large part of the movie focuses on Ava and her troubled relationship with her mother and sister. This has a heavy part to play in the story yet fails to have any real significance to the other elements of the movie. This is possibly why I found it to be the worst part of the movie and made me lose interest. The movie felt very much like 2 separate movies edited together as they had no real relation. The first being a story about an assassin dealing with espionage and being double crossed packed full of action and chaos. The second story being a family drama which in no way inter links with the first story.


You can tell this was not a cheap movie to make by the style, tone and locations we visit. Ava is an international assassin which naturally takes us to some exotic locations, all of which are shot very well with some beautiful long sweeping shots of places like Paris, Boston and Saudi Arabia.

Most of the action sequences were ambitious and realistic but in comparison to similar movies they felt slow and choreographed. Jessica Chastain is a talented actress and I admire her determination to make a movie like this but I was not sold on her performance as an action star. There were multiple times a fight literally stopped still for a second while she was awaiting for her attacker’s arm or leg to be in the right position before performing her counter move.

To compare the action in this movie to something like John Wick, Taken or Atomic Blonde they do not come close and felt very far away from the high standard we have come to expect from modern movies. This was not my biggest issue with Ava though. I simply wished it was one type of movie and stuck to it. If it wanted to be action then commit, make it a 90 minute adrenaline pumping action flick. If it wanted to be a family drama then go with that, bulk out the story and trim back the action. Unfortunately I felt Ava didn’t know what type of movie it wanted to be and badly attempted to be multiple genres which overall made the outcome disappointing. 


The best part about this movie was its cast. Jessica Chastain who I will admit did not sell me on the idea of her in an action role but she is a wonderful actress who did make me believe her emotional turmoil and addiction struggles. John Malkovich as I previously mentioned is someone I wanted to see more from. He is at that stage in his career now where he plays a perfect older mentor and had some great moments with Chastain. He would make a great M in the James Bond movies or Bosley in Charlie’s Angels.

Colin Farrell’s character Simon is someone else I would have liked to have seen more from. He becomes more prominent towards the final third bringing charisma and a touch of evil to the plot twists. Geena Davis played the role of Ava’s mother in what I can only imagine was a silent nod to her role in The Long Kiss Goodnight, a movie which I think must have been an inspiration to writer Matthew Newton or director Tate Taylor. Common, Jess Weicler, Joan Chen and Diana Silvers round out a decent supporting cast.


Ava passed the time but failed to impress me. The draw of the trailer and a strong cast sparked my interest but its below par action sequences and failure to have an identity made this a disappointing experience. The story left many questions unanswered which could be followed up by a sequel if the interest is there for it but I for one won’t be holding my breath for it.

I watched this via the Sky TV store and have received no incentive to review this movie.

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