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“THE TAX COLLECTOR” Hell in a Handbasket

 

 

 

 

 

Review by John Delia

As street gang films go, The Tax Collector is right alongside the most memorable films with a vicious story that should make you shudder. A high octane thriller, the early back story plays out with some nice drama and setup, before going into a hellish cacophony of bullets and explosions. In the middle of it all is the fine acting of Bobby Soto and Shia LaBeouf.

Bobby Soto as David in the action / thriller THE TAX COLLECTOR, an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of Justin Lubin.

The household of David (Bobby Soto) shows his love of his wife Alexis (Cinthya Carmona) and his two children. Being a member of the most ferocious street gangs his job along with his bodyguard Creeper (Shia LaBeouf) is to collect “taxes” for his boss Wizard. His overseer is his Uncle Louis (George Lopez) one of the most feared gang captains in Los Angeles.

Each day David and Creeper run their route visiting several of the 43 street gangs in LA along with their messengers. As each hands over their tax money, the messengers speed off with the cash. The payoff to David is 30% of what gets collected and it’s a good life as long as things go well.

(L-R) Cle Sloan as Bone and Bobby Soto as David in the action / thriller THE TAX COLLECTOR, a RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of RLJE Films.

But on this one day, when they are supposed to pick up the tax from Venom, they are greeted by Conejo (Jose Conejo Martin), a Mexican rival of Wizard who just returned to the states with his capo Gata (Cheyenne Rae Hernandez). When Conejo refues to cooperate with the tax system, the drug lords gets ready for a fight.

I like the way Director David Ayer (Suicide Squad) takes you through a day in the life of David and Creeper as they collect and take care of problems with their pick-ups. Each of the gangs have daily problems and as the day goes on David’s power over them starts to give way. Ayer uses the brutality that he laid out as writer of Training Day, the tense drama of his End of Watch and mixes it with the fury and explosiveness of Sabotage with a mix of Suicide Squad thrown in for good measure. It’s a culmination of his astute brilliance that makes this film a winner.

(L-R) Shia LaBeouf as Creeper and Bobby Soto as David in the action / thriller THE TAX COLLECTOR, an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of Justin Lubin.

In the lead role of David, Bobby Soto gets to show his action ability as the gang’s collector who will stop at nothing to protect his family from his visceral world. Even in the midst of being hunted down, David takes a chance to save his wife and children from the brutal gang leader Conejo. He makes his character look real and conflicted as he faces off against his new adversary.

What a very nice surprise performance by Shia LaBeouf who shows he can be as vicious and scary as most of the characters in street gang films. I can’t remember when he has taken on a role as dangerous and savage as Creeper. It’s a pivotal role that could make or break the film, but he nails it and makes Creeper very intimidating.

Jose Conejo Martin as Conejo in the action / thriller THE TAX COLLECTOR, an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of Justin Lubin.

The brutality in the film looks very real with the fine make-up, special effects, nicely choreographed fight scenes and cringing sounds of bullets and nails flying by from explosions. When the attacks start coming David Ayer puts all he has on the line to make it look real and very chilling. Much like Suicide Squad it’s that ruthless and ferocious that made it a winner and he does it again. And as for being brutal, move over Margot Robbie there a new tough girl in town named Cheyenne Rae Hernandez and her portrayal of Gata is up there with the best of the vicious ladies.

The Tax Collector has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains pervasive language, extreme violence, drugs, drug use, disturbing images, gore, and nudity. The film has been released VOD, Digital and Select Theaters check local listings. If you can find a theater in your area, it’s the best way to see the film. If not, turn up the volume on your TV when the film goes frantic for some very terrifying moments.

Cheyenne Rae Hernandez as Gata in the action / thriller THE TAX COLLECTOR, an RLJE Films release. Photo courtesy of Justin Lubin.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A memorable action thriller. (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Bobby Soto, George Lopez, Shia LaBeouf, Cinthya Carmona
Directed and written by: David Ayer
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
MPAA Rating: Not Rated, contains language, extreme violence, drug use, disturbing images, gore, and nudity.
Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.
Opening Date: August 7, 2020
Distributed by: RJLE Films
Released in: VOD, Digital and Select Theaters check local listings.

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