Ranking: Zero Stars. One of the worst.
This review contains spoilers and a complete plot summary.
How woke is it? This movie is 7/10 woke. Does it villify the right groups? Yes. All White males in the movie are despicable (usually uncontrollably horny which results in their death) or hapless (can’t fight as well as Ava and are easily killed or badly injured). Do black lives matter in the movie? The African character, Michael, who is played by someone named Common (who actually does a decent job acting in this film), was engaged to Ava but later becomes engaged to (and impregnates) Ava’s sister, Jude/Judy. Is there an ass-kicking woman in the movie? You bet your ass there is. Ava plays essentially a super-hero (she kills about 40 men in the movie (Whites and White-presenting Arabs), all of them hapless / goofy / horny). Her flaws in the movie are either overcome (drugs, alcohol) or excused away (her assassination targets are presented as deserving of death). What about gay stuff? The movie does not have any gay or transsexual scenes or characters, which resulted in three woke points left unobtained. Seven out of Ten, woke.
DIRECTOR: Tate Taylor
SCREENWRITER: Matthew Newton
STARRING: Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Colin Farrell, Common, Geena Davis, Joan Chen
Ava (Jessica Chastain) opens the movie in a blonde wig feigning an Arkansas accent as she picks up a man from the airport. The man is easily identified as despicable. He is foul-mouthed and has an annoying, douche-like presence. It becomes clear, quickly that the foul-mouthed douche-bag has been targeted for assassination by Ava who we are supposed to regard as intimidating.
Ava/Chastain immediately outsmarts the man because he is horny and he is stupid. He says something to her (I didn’t note the comment) and she asks “if that usually works for him” meaning she understood that he was hitting on her.
She pulls over the Range Rover that she is driving him in and leads the credulous man to believe that she wants to get in the back seat to have sex with him. Right there, like a “me so horny” type situation, right out of the blue! However, we quickly learn that she did not want to have sex with the stupid sucker because she pulls a gun on him once she is in the back seat. This is top-tier assassin stuff, very convincing and well-done. LOL!
The horny man realizes that he has been had and he starts crying and begging for his life. When he realizes that is not working (she keeps pointing the gun at him), he makes a desperate lunge toward the ruthless and sexy (?) assassin. She shoots him once to fend off the attack but it doesn’t kill him. They banter a bit more before she casually shoots him to death. After he is dead, Ava gets back in the front seat and is totally unconcerned with the damage to the car and the dead body in the back because, well, because she’s just that good. A minute later we learn from a dramatic news report Ava is watching that the body was found in the abandoned Range Rover.
When the dust settles, she gets a call from a man (Duke / John Malkovich) we learn is her manager in the assassination organization.
The opening credits roll and we learn during the sequence that she was the valedictorian of her high school, but had a DUI that injured (or killed, I can’t remember) people, then enlisted in the military and, from flash-back footage we learn that she was a bad-ass soldier with a pony tail, wrecking the fuck out of Iraqis or Afghanis or whoever she was fighting in one of the US’s random and pointless desert wars. They hammer home the point that she has had a lot of trouble with alcohol.
Next, Ava heads to Boston and the film cuts to a scene where she’s running, quite unconvincingly, in the middle of the street, apparently as part of her bad-ass physical training regiment.
She goes to a night-spot and watches a mediocre singer perform. We learn shortly after the set ends that the singer is Ava’s sister, Jude. Jude is a bit of an ugly duckling if we’re honest. And, we learn with forced dialogue that Jude dates a guy named Michael who Ava clearly doesn’t like or is upset about or something.
Jude give Ava a hard time because she missed a funeral. Context tells us that it was, presumably, her father’s funeral. Jude yells at Ava for not reading the e-mail she sent that let her know that the Geena Davis character, their mother, is in the hospital with heart problems. They hammer home the point that Ava is quite aloof from a family perspective.
Duke (Malkovich) next sends Ava to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with instructions that she kill an important Saudi general, while posing as a hooker or a slut (unclear which). The entire Saudi scene is ridiculous and not the least bit believable, even in an action-movie context.
The General abandons all sense of personal security because, just like the initial male target in the Range Rover, he is very, very horny. Ava leads him to believe that she will make the sex with him, right there. She’s so hot and bothered she wants to go upstairs and fuck, or so she says / he believes. The General, who we are told is a powerful man in the Saudi military, is giddy as the forty-something year old woman agrees to go upstairs with him to his room. Powerful Saudi Generals usually are married and do not have problems obtaining mistresses much younger than Ava (should they want them), but this Saudi General behaves as if he has not seen a vagina in years. He can hardly wait to get upstairs with Ava. I’ll just say it: Jessica Chastain is a fit, attractive woman but this is not a remotely believable plot device for this assassination.
Anyhow, in the elevator, it comes out that she’s a ‘slut’ not a hooker. She actually says that, it’s her line. The Saudi General stares at her in amazement, he cannot believe his good fortune. The scene cuts directly to the hotel room and she gets him in a weird position on a table and we are shown his face (he’s moaning in pleasure but it’s not entirely clear why as his pants remain securely fastened). The man is so horny he can’t imagine that Ava is about to assassinate him (it seems that he may have been getting a foot massage, which seems so bizarre I can hardly type it but it is unclear that anything else was happening). The goofy General doesn’t notice that she is about to inject him between his toes with a poison substance. She gets the injection in, of course, and let’s him know that he is going to die because “he did something bad.” She tells him that he will die in fifteen seconds and it will look like natural causes.
For some reason, before the General dies, Saudi security forces bust into the room, armed. She slits his throat, I guess to make sure that they don’t administer an antidote in the next five seconds. Then, quite luckily (for Ava), she is able to kill the men, one after another after another. First she throws a knife into one’s chest. After that, she rushes them and disarms them and starts shooting them with their own guns. During the scene, more and more Saudi security forces rush at Ava but she fends them all off / kills them all. I lost count of how many of them she killed but let’s just say it was a lot.
They continue to rush toward the fallen (horny) General. Ava pretends to be distressed by all the shooting and is taken downstairs by an unsuspecting military man who doesn’t realize that she was involved in the whole mess. Once she gets in the lobby, she pulls a smoke bomb out of her dress and sets it off in the lobby allowing her to exit the hotel. Outside the hotel, for whatever reason, more Saudi security forces (army men carrying machine guns) rush at Ava. She disarms and shoots about a dozen Saudi soldiers. One of her key moves is grabbing a machine gun halfway from the arms of one of the hapless soldiers (while he hangs onto it) and, from behind the hapless goofball who originally had the machine gun, she starts shooting a bunch of Saudi security who continuously try to rush her and/or shoot her. Her aim is much better than theirs! They all die and the scene eventually, mercifully, ends.
Ava returns to Boston and runs again, unconvincingly. It just didn’t look right.
She runs into an African-American man (Michael, played by Common) at the hospital (her destination for the running). The Geena Davis character (Ava/Jude’s mom) is still acting like an annoying cunt in the hospital. She’s loud and talking all the time. She didn’t say anything worthy of reporting on here.
An awkward conversation ensues with Michael (there is tension between Ava and Michael and it turns out that he is the diverse boyfriend of the sister). The movie earned three woke points since the first/only male romantic interest is, unsurprisingly (Hollywood), interracial with an African man / White woman. It becomes clear that Jude’s diverse boyfriend previously dated / was romantically linked to Ava. Oy vey!
Next, we see Ava at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, where she tells a dumb story about how she caught her dad having an affair (the third despicable / horny White male introduced into the plot). Ava’s dad, she tells her AA meeting, made up a story that she stole money from him to use for drugs and alcohol in order to convince her mother (the nails-on-chalkboard Geena Davis character) that she was lying about his horniness and the resulting affair. She makes a note that, because of this incident, she wanted to kill her horny father but instead she joined the army which was where she stopped drinking and drugging.
Malkovich is seen bumbling around a few times and he goes to meet with Colin Farrel (not sure of Farrel’s character name, and let’s face it, it doesn’t really matter). Farrel, an awful caricature of an assassin / spook) is shown to be upset because the Saudi hit resulted in not a clean kill of the General but rather in chaos and the death of 20-30 Saudi military men. He fears that there will be blowback from the incident and wants to kill Ava.
Farrel now considers her a liability to their shit-tier clandestine organization (he is apparently in charge of the Malkovich character, Duke). As a result of all this, Farrel orders a hit on Gardner. The entire scene presents like a parody or a comedy skit.
Ava is next shown practicing karate kicks and doing exercise kicks in a hotel. The scene is very unconvincing. She then goes for another weird run in the middle of a street late at night. We are meant to believe, it seems, that when she is not on mission, she is busy working out. The whole thing is ridiculous, but the movie keeps rolling on. During her run through the street, she is immediately stalked by a man, a goofy-looking curly-headed guy, who is not subtle. It’s obvious that he’s the assassin ordered by Farrel. Curly-head runs after Ava and tries to knife her, but she disarms him and kicks his ass for a while then scurries off. After his knife attack failed and as she was running away, the man takes a shot at her. He misses, unsurprisingly, and she runs off.
The hit man (hapless but at least not horny) pursues Ava but can’t seem to locate her. We come to find out that he can’t find her because she had hidden herself under the water inside a big, decorative water fountain in the middle of Boston. Confused, he walks up to the fountain, still looking around for Ava. With the speed and ferocity of a crocodile snatching a zebra, Ava lurches out of the fountain and knifes the curly-headed would-be assassin right in his fucking neck, killing him. She dumps the still-warm corpse into the fountain and wipes the blood off of herself with water from the same.
After this latest kill, she goes to meet with the Malkovich, upset about being targeted for the hit. Malkovich assures her that it was not Farrel that tried to have her killed (at that point it seems that he really doesn’t think that Farrel did it). Ava is so upset she cries.
Ava goes shopping, again late at night but I wasn’t really clear what she was buying. I don’t think it ever mattered.
Next thing we know Ava’s at dinner with Michael (the African boyfriend) and Jude, her sister. The sister and Michael argue at the dinner, but it’s not over anything very memorable, just a petty fight. Michael and Jude ask Ava about her job; she pretends to be an event planner with some throwaway lines. The sister is drinking pretty heavily at the dinner and eventually leaves over some pointless argument at the table.
Michael and Ava remain at the dinner for a few minutes. Ava apologizes for not saying goodbye to the African before she left. I think they said eight years ago. The timeline makes no sense, though, since she joined the military after high school. Ava now looks to be in her forties. There are fifteen to twenty missing years in that timeline. That being said, perhaps Ava is twenty-six or so in the movie. I’m not buying that, but other viewers might not notice. Jessica Chastain is a pretty woman and she is fit. So it’s not entirely out of the question that explains the discrepancy. Either way, Michael leaves in a weird huff after she makes the apology.
Ava is shown back at her hotel. Her sister knocks on her door at 5 a.m., angry because she says Michael did not come back to their love nest. The sister confides in Ava that Michael is gambling again (we learn that he has had gambling problems in the past) and when he gambles, sometimes he doesn’t come home at night.
Ava suggests that maybe he is not gambling (implies that he is horny like the Range Rover guy, the General and Ava’s dad – and that Michael might be cheating on her).
For whatever reason, Ava sets out into the Boston underworld in search of the gambling Michael. She makes her way to a secret gambling organization which is disguised behind a port-o-potty. Not joking. There are poker games going on behind the port-o-potty in a huge underground (?) establishment.
Ava quickly spots Michael at one of the port-o-potty poker game and some old Asian lady who runs the game and makes fun of Ava for being an ex-addict.
Michael tries to leave but the old Asian lady won’t let him. It is not immediately clear why Michael can’t leave the poker game. Regardless, Ava and Michael become angry and kick the living shit out of the poker security guys. Once they rough up a bunch of them, Ava takes control of the Asian woman at knifepoint. LOL! A few seconds later, Ava lets the Asian go. The Asian threatens Ava verbally. She was hard to understand but it was blah blah blah I’ll get you type stuff.
Ava asks the Asian how much poker money Michael owes and it is learned that the total is $75k. Ava demands time to make a payment.
The Asian swears at the security as Ava and Michael leave the poker room.
In a conversation outside the port-o-potty, we learn that Michael and Ava were previously engaged to be married.
Ava offers him money for his gambling debt but he doesn’t want it from Ava because he is still upset about the broken engagement from years before. He insists that she will always be his “cookie” or “cakey” or some dumb nickname (I blocked it from memory).
To ease his anger, Ava tries to put her hand on him but he complains about it and says “Don’t do that, I’m not yours anymore.” Then he tells Ava that he is engaged to her sister Jude now. Apparently there was no engagement ring at the dinner or any of the other scenes with Ava and her sister Jude (I didn’t look and sure as hell am not rewinding), so Ava was unaware until the moment Michael told her. She is clearly upset by the engagement.
Traumatized, Ava goes to a bar and orders a double scotch. But she dramatically leaves the bar without drinking the scotch. The tension was palpable! LOL!
Scene change to Malkovich (Duke) and the half-retarded Colin Farrel character. Malkovich has figured out the hit (not sure how) and confronts Farrel about trying to kill Ava.
Farrel explains that it’s just business and that’s why he tried to have Ava killed twice (it turns out that security busted into the room in Saudi Arabia because it was a setup).
Malkovich pulls a gun on Farrel but Farrel’s daughter (LOL!) disarms him and points a gun at his head.
Eventually Malkovich disarms the daughter and tackles Farrel through the window. They fight hand-to-hand for several minutes. Malkovich looks like he’s 90 and Farrel is pretty fit but they are both kicking each others’ asses, back-and-forth. LOL! Malkovich finds a gun (his?) later and shoots three security guards who run toward the fight even though it is unclear how they knew it was happening (there were no gunshots at that point and they didn’t have a vantage point to see the fistfight). Malkovich takes them out from about thirty yards away with three shots from the pistol that he found, which I think was his own pistol that had been taken from him by Farrel’s daughter. LOL! Farrel disarms him again and they continue the absurd fight. Eventually Farrel pulls a knife and stabs Malkovich in a dramatic fashion first from the front and then from behind, severing his spine (?) as he falls to the ground in agony. The Malkovich character is dead.
Cut to Ava playing cards with her mother (the Geena Davis character, very annoying) who is now out of the hospital. There is a serious tone to the conversation. She wants to tell her mother something but her mother interrupts her to go on a lengthy screed about how horrible her father was and how he fucked all these other women all the time. The mother explains that she was “scared to be alone” and that’s why she chose the horrible father over Ava, but she knows now how horrible the father was. Ava cries.
The verbose mother is proud of Ava (not sure why) and she says that she knows Ava would never treat her own child like the Geena Davis character treated Ava. It is not clear why that is relevant since there has been no indication of Ava having a child and she presents in the movie as north of forty years old. But whatever, nobody fucking cares at this point. I certainly don’t.
The movie cuts back to Farrel and Malkovich. We learn that Malkovich was not dead from the dramatic back-slice stabbing but was just badly injured. We learn this because we see his face twisted up in pain and agony on a dock out over the water which we can presume is near Farrel’s house. Farrel has Duke/Malkovich in chains on the dock. Farrel films himself pushing Malkovich into the water. Presumably he is now finally dead. LOL!
Farrel goes to his computer, brow furrowed, and does some serious computing. Not clear what.
Farrel calls Ava and tells her he just killed Duke (Malkovich). She says if that’s true she is going to kill him. Farrel taunts Ava and hangs up. For good measure, Farrel sends her the video of him pushing the half-dead Malkovich character into the water. LOL!
Ava goes to the hotel restaurant and has a bite to eat. She then heads to her sister’s house. Her sister is not there. Michael (Jude’s diverse fiancé) answers the door. Ava practically jumps on his and starts shoving her tongue down his throat and asks him to leave with her, as in run away with her. Michael kisses her back for a second but then he stops and solemnly informs Ava that he has impregnated her sister. LOL!
Ava leaves and heads back to the port-o-potty gambling site. Not joking. A fat security man is sitting outside the port-o-potty. He sees the dangerous (LOL!) Ava and immediately walky-talkies someone with a very serious voice, saying only: “she’s here.” Ava immediately kicks his fat ass for a second and after the guy is beat down she goes into the port-o-potty entrance to the gambling facility. Ava immediately exchanges gunfire with port-o-potty / gambling security, killing at least two of them. As Ava enters the large underground gambling facility, we see that this time it is a massive nightclub establishment. People are dancing and having a great time, several hundred of them. LOL! Cut to the old Asian woman who is in a private room lustily watching two men who look like they are about to spit-roast a half-naked woman. Cut back to Ava who starts kicking the shit out of a whole bunch of people / guards. Eventually, people realize that there is a bad-ass on the premises and they scream and run out of the night club / gambling facility.
Somehow sensing commotion outside the private sex-show room (despite the loud music and sex act that’s about to take place in front of her), the Asian woman comes out of the room and starts kicking the shit out of Ava. Ava is on the ground babbling about some stupid bullshit while the old woman punches her in the face several times. We learn that Ava is letting the old woman beat her up because she is disappointed with herself for trying to leave town with Michael. But then, for whatever reason, Ava has had enough of the guilt. She beats up the old Asian woman. But she doesn’t beat her up too much… just a little bit. When she’s done with that she throws a bag at her and tells the woman that Michael’s debt is paid. Presumably the bag was filled with $75k.
Ava goes back to her hotel room and raids the mini bar. She drinks three mini bottles of liquor and holds her gun and starts laughing wildly, cackling. Then she points the gun at her own forehead and her chin while making an anguished face. She laughs and cries at the same time. Maybe over Michael? LOL!
Farrel sneaks into the hotel room, using a key card and aiming a pistol with a silencer around the room, looking for Ava. Ava hears the door and runs to the bathroom. A firefight ensues.
No one is hit in the burst of gunfire and they walk around the hotel room shooting at each other for a while. Farrel sees the empty liquor bottles and taunts Ava for raiding the mini bar since he knows from Duke / Malkovich she is a recovering alcoholic. It’s all so tiresome.
Ava hides under a desk in the hotel room and when Farrel walks by she fucks up his leg. Hand-to-hand combat ensues after she springs out of her hiding place, with both Ava and Farrel landing punches and kicks during the fight. Farrel smashes Ava’s head through a glass door but she recovers and kicks him and then jumps on him and squeezes him between her thighs like she’s trying to crack a coconut. Exhausted from combat, they take a break during the fight for some boring banter. They start fighting again and Farrel smashes her onto a table. More punches are landed, some elbows, etc. Both are bloody as all hell and they take a break to sit down, Farrel on a chair and Ava on a couch. It’s not clear where the two guns are at this point but both are just sitting around bleeding, they are not fighting anymore.
Awful dialogue ensues and Farrel says he sees why Malkovich liked Ava so much — “You’ve got moxy!” he says. LOL! He then says “If I see you again I’ll kill you” and he leaves.
Ava goes to get money and a gun that she hid behind the mini bar.
An alarm goes off in the hotel (it’s not clear why, maybe the gunfire?) and everyone has to evacuate. Ava somehow finds Farrel outside of the hotel and chases after him. Both are walking during the chase. Farrel has a limp, though.
The chase scene is asinine. Farrel is limping along and Ava is chasing him at a normal walking pace. Farrel calls someone on his smart phone and says to increase the security on his family because “the object is still open” which, in super-secret assassin code, means that Ava is still alive.
Farrel jumps down onto a pile of sand from an overpass but Ava is still right behind him.
They are both still walking along. Ava decides it’s time and she shoots him in the back of he leg.
Farrel is VERY upset now that he has been shot. He asks Ava not to hurt his family and she agrees. More pointless dialogue ensues.
Ava shoots him through the forehead.
She goes back to Jude/Michael’s. Michael answers the door.
Ava tells Michael she needs to talk to Jude alone as Jude walks over. She tells Jude to go out of the country with her mother (the annoying Geena Davis character). She gives her a paper with an account for $500k and hands her $20k in cash and tells her to “take care of her family” like “I was never able to.”
[It is unclear who would even give a fuck about Jude at this point since Farrel is dead.]
Michael keeps listening anyway.
Ava tells Jude to take care of her baby that she is having with Michael. LOL!
Michael delivers a letter to Ava. For some reason it came to Jude’s apartment.
Malkovich narrates the ending with a load of bullshit that I won’t summarize here. Before the movie goes to credits, Farrel’s daughter is seen walking behind Ava with an angry look in her eye. It’s all so tiresome.
This movie sucked. Avoid.