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Ludwig Shammasian, Paul Shammasian
Orlando Bloom, Janet Montgomery, Charlie Creed-Miles
Writing Credits:
Geoff Thompson

An adult victim of childhood sexual abuse confronts the horrors of his past.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 9/8/2020

• Audio Commentary with Directors Paul Shammasian and Ludwig Shammasian
• “Brutality and Honesty” Featurette
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Retaliation [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 6, 2020)

On August 18, 2020, Lionsgate released a violent direct-to-video drama entitled I Am Vengeance: Retaliation.

On September 8, 2020, Lionsgate released a violent direct-to-video drama entitled Retaliation.

Did no one in marketing think this might create some marketplace confusion?

In the “Nothing Else in the Title” Retaliation, Malky (Orlando Bloom) works a job in demolition. At the pub with pals one night, he encounters an unwelcome reminder from his past after he sees Father Jimmy (James Smillie), a priest he knew as a child.

When Malky was 12, Jimmy sexually abused him, and this left him scarred. Faced with this reminder of his trauma, Malky goes on a mission of revenge.

Going into Retaliation, I expected a pretty standard one-dimensional revenge flick in which the main character goes after bad guys. This notion doesn’t hold up well in the opening minutes, and it evaporates entirely at the 13-minute mark when Malky sodomizes himself with an enormous phallic object.

Alrighty then!

Retaliation clearly wants to confront the issues of child sexual abuse in general, with an emphasis on the misdeeds by those in positions of trust – and more specifically, by clergy. Sadly, this topic doesn’t become dated, as we continue to get revelations of religious leaders who misused their positions.

All of those topics remain important, and Retaliation occasionally feels like a bracing examination of the ongoing pain caused by abuse. However, the film goes down such a grim, masochistic path that it seems more likely to offend than to create compassion for the main character.

Not that I disagree with the choice to make Malky self-loathing and self-sabotaging. Those decisions seem logical, as they depict the struggles someone in his position might encounter in terms of various forms of functioning.

However, Retaliation digs into Malky’s misery with such abandon that it becomes off-putting. We can’t connect to the character because the movie depicts him and his environment with so much brutality.

Actually, I’d not mind the ugliness so much if Retaliation balanced the darkness with complexity. A film in which the bleak material gives real insight would work fine.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen here, as Retaliation seems more concerned with the aforementioned graphic content along with ham-fisted dialogue and imagery. Malky becomes less a real character and more a vehicle for anguished monologues.

Bloom gives the part his all and seems unafraid to confront Malky’s demons. He doesn’t attempt to win over the viewer or make the audience like him.

All of that lends an impression of depth where little exists in the part as written. Malky lacks dimensionality, so while Bloom manages to add life, the role’s inherent limitations remain an issue.

As such, Retaliation winds up as a frustrating character study. Despite its potential to offer a strong look at the long-term impact of sexual abuse, it seems too concerned with dark titillation and it can’t compensate in other areas. Toss in an oddly unconvincing finale and we find a disappointing drama.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Retaliation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not great, the movie offered generally good visuals.

Sharpness was usually fine. A few shots could be a little soft, but not to a significant degree. Instead, the program normally appeared concise and accurate.

I noticed no issues related to jagged edges, shimmering or edge haloes. No source defects marred the presentation, either.

One wouldn’t anticipate bold colors from a tale like this, and Retaliation went with a subdued palette that favored chilly blues and ambers. These choices seemed stark but effective.

Blacks were acceptable, though they could be a bit inky, and shadows were decent. Overall, the movie remained pretty appealing.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Retaliation seemed low-key as well, without a lot of real involvement on display. This was a quiet film overall and not one that threw a lot at the viewer.

Music used the speakers nicely, and the occasional “action scene” brought out good activity. Much of the movie concentrated on environmental audio, but the track opened up to other information as appropriate.

Quality appeared positive, with speech that felt natural and distinctive. Music boasted good range and impact, and effects appeared accurate and lively. The audio felt like a “B” to me.

A few extras appear, and we find an audio commentary from directors Ludwig Shammasian and Paul Shammasian. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of the original short film and its adaptation, story/characters/themes, cast and performances, sets and locations, music and sound design, editing, photography and related topics.

Though it starts very well, the commentary becomes less consistent before long. Not that it fizzles, but the Shammasians occasionally go AWOL and they occasionally have less to say. Still, they bring enough good notes to make the track worth a listen.

Brutality and Honesty runs 21 minutes, 21 seconds and includes comments from Ludwig Shammasian, Paul Shammasian, producer Jasper Graham, and actors Orlando Bloom, Janet Montgomery, Rory Nolan, Alex Ferns, and Charlie Creed-Miles.

“Honesty” covers the short film precursor to Retaliation, story, character and themes, cast and performances, and some scene specifics. Some of this repeats from the commentary, but “Honesty” adds some good insights and becomes a fairly informative piece.

The disc opens with ads for Guns Akimbo, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, and Vivarium. No trailer for Retaliation appears here.

As a look at the never-ending pain that impacts survivors of sexual abuse, Retaliation comes with potential. However, it seems too invested in grim elements and lacks the depth it needs. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive as well as a few bonus materials. Despite a strong lead performance from Orlando Bloom, the film doesn’t work on a consistent basis.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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