Review: The Tax Collector (2020)

The Tax Collector is a stylish and entertaining movie exploring the underbelly of gangland LA. Although early reviews from the critics have been poor I recommend this doesn’t put people off watching what I found to be a pretty unique movie.

PLOT AND STORY

A tax collector is someone who collects a cut of money from all the different gangs who operate in certain areas of LA. As far as stories go this is something new to me. We have all seen endless movies showing us the glamorous and not so glamorous lives of gangland America but The Tax Collector shows us something different.

The two main characters David (Bobby Soto) and Creeper (Shia LeBeouf) are not drug dealers and they are not the hierarchy of a cartel, they are essentially the middle men who help keep everyone in check. This again is a new dynamic to storytelling and much of the reason it kept me intrigued, especially in the opening third of the movie.

Writer and Director David Ayer is well known for his credentials in the LA crime scene, especially focusing on the hispanic side during previous movies like Training Day, End of Watch and Harsh Times. Ayer once again delivers a layered story with plot twists which moves at a relentless pace. There are times I found myself predicting what was going to happen next and then in the next moment something completely unexpected would hit you like a sledgehammer to the chest.

CAST

A relatively unknown cast with mainly young up and coming actors who have plenty of TV experience while Tax Collector may be a launch pad for a few to get noticed for bigger projects. The main character David is played by Bobby Soto who I was not familiar with prior to this movie. 2 appearances on Narcos: Mexico is about all I would know from his IMDB credentials but im positive this will not be the last we see or hear from Bobby Soto. Soto carried the movie well on his shoulders and played the character with a Denzel Washington type swagger as he can shift from cool and calm to intensely intimidating with the click of his fingers.

Jose Conejo Martin made his acting debut in this movie as the main villain as Conejo and what an impression he made. A character who actually frightened me and made me worry about what I was about to witness every time he was on screen. Jose Conejo Martin could easily be a future Bond villain. Conejo’s partner in crime was Gata played by someone else who really stood out, Cheyenne Rae Hernandez. Crazy, scary and beautiful is a mix that makes you love and hate Gata for all the wrong reasons.

Finally the only genuine hollywood name attached to the movie is Shia LeBeouf who plays David’s enforcer Creeper. LeBeouf in my eyes is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors and The Tax Collector again shows why he is an actor who can do anything. Having worked together on Fury David Ayer obviously picked Lebeouf for a reason and I think that was to get a performance that nobody else could give him. LeBeouf doesn’t have a menacing statute so he has to use his words and his expression to strike fear into people and that’s what LeBeouf does best. He can go inside the character and find something you would not expect to be there. Creeper will absolutely be your favourite character giving to most highs and lows throughout the movie.

SETTING AND DIRECTION

It’s gangland LA, something the movies have shown us many times before, especially in previous David Ayer movies. What Ayer does well is by not relying on the city of LA to provide all the backdrop and atmosphere. Much of the film is shot in close quarters like inside a car or 12 people crammed in a small crack house. This reminded me of how he shot Fury, a war movie set in war torn France but most of the story and atmosphere is built inside the hull of a tank. 

I think David Ayer has a specific style in the way he shoots his movies and it’s very unique to him. The way in which he angles the camera to demonstrate the frustration in Creeper when things don’t go his way or the way in which David embraces his family highlights how small they are in this big city.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Tax Collector is a different and untold story told within a very familiar genre. Some bright up and coming stars who are allowed to let loose in this graphic and brutal story which explores friction between sexs, races and gangs. I recommend people to watch this movie even if it’s to see a Shia LeBeouf performance like never before.

I watched this via Sky Store and received no incentive to review this movie.

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