Starring: Scott Adkins, Louis Mandylor, Vladimir Kulich
Director: Jesse V. Johnson
Running Time: 97 mins
The Debt Collector is an American film about a man who, in order to get out of his own crippling debt, takes up a job as a debt collector, where he finds himself presented with numerous moral difficulties as he struggles to come to terms with the realities of his new industry.
From the very first scene, The Debt Collector looks like typically average, dumb, hulking straight-to-DVD action rubbish. However, although it’s far from the most astonishing film ever made, it is worlds better than what I first expected, impressing with genuinely engaging characters, a respectable moral compass, and even a number of thoroughly entertaining action sequences, all of which makes for a film that, although it may not look the part, is actually worth a watch.
Now, I’m not going to say that The Debt Collector is a sleeper hit that everybody should rush to see, but for a film that you, like me, will likely dismiss as a generic action flick, I have to day that there is a whole lot more to see from the film, principally in the form of genuinely interesting lead characters.
Although the film starts off in fairly vulgar fashion, with aggressive fighting and an excessively macho dynamic between the two leads in Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor, the way in which that central relationship develops through the film is not only a refreshing change for an action film of this ilk, but also introduces real, intriguing and often even thought-provoking character depth.
Rather than playing out like a generic Jason Statham-style movie that simply ham-fists the lead characters into as many big fights as possible, The Debt Collector actually takes time out from its crashing and tumbling to look at the unique struggles of its two leads. Starting off with the clashes between the morally principled Scott Adkins and the battle-hardened Louis Mandylor, the film sees the pair change and learn from each other in a way so many other films simply aren’t bothered to show.
Now, as that story takes a little bit of time to really get into its stride, the film doesn’t have the same dramatic intrigue in its first two acts, something that may put you off a little, and certainly doesn’t make the film as a whole as good as its strongest moments.
However, with genuinely likable performances by both Scott Adkins and Louis Mandylor in roles that typically prove anything but, along with the odd top-quality action scene here and there, the film does have enough to keep you engaged and moderately entertained throughout, even if it does to sag at times in the middle act.
In the end, however, The Debt Collector finishes on a real high note, not only impressing with an exciting final action shootout, but an equally engaging and unpredictable dramatic finale, all played out to a central theme that features a genuinely heartwarming and arguably even moving moral core, something I really didn’t expect to see from this film when I started with it.
Overall, The Debt Collector may not be the greatest work of action or storytelling, often struggling to really hit the mark early on as it strives to push the boundaries of an often very restrictive genre. However, with likable performances and some good action here and there, the film proves far stronger than you may expect at first, even ending on a real high note deserving of real acclaim, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0.