The story is as old as the movies — or at least as as old as the John Boorman/Lee Marvin vengeance thriller “Point Blank (1967).”
Mob-connected guy is set up and either shot and left for dead, made the fall guy and sent to prison, or both.
“Payback” such variations on a theme inevitably-called (Mel Gibson was in the most famous one, a remake of “Point Blank.”), although most abandon that title as its become common as dirt.
The director/co-writer Joseph Mensch version of this “Payback” is about a hustling boiler-room broker with a Russian mob-backed New York brokerage who stumbles into something he shouldn’t know, gets sent to Los Angeles, set up for a mob hit and sent to jail thanks to his mob-provided lawyer.
Naturally, Mike Markovich (Australian Matt Levett, not yet the Next Mel Gibson) has had a lot of time — six years in prison — to figure out what happened and who did this to him.
He gets out, and even though he has no experience with this kind of dirty work, cozies up with his old bosses and plots his revenge.
There’s not enough novelty to this story to make it feel fresh. The heavies in the cast make slightly more of an impression than the bland, forgettable leads. There’s a Baryshnikov daughter in it playing Mike’s wife, and veteran character actor Rade Serbedzija plays another version of everybody’s favorite Slavic grandpa.
The tacky, thuggishly dim and gauche Russian/Ukrainian/Georgian milieu — very “Eastern Promises” — is a nice touch. No wonder Trump identifies with them.
But there’s nothing here — not the modes of revenge, not the learn-as-you-go novelty of Mike getting in over his head (poorly exploited in the script) and especially not the dull, colorless acting — to recommend this latest “Payback.”‘
MPAA Rating: unrated, violence, some sexual situations, profanity
Cast: Matt Levett, Toby Leonard Moore, Anna Baryshnikov, Lev Gorn, Elena Satine and Rade Serbedzija.
Credits: Directed by Joseph Mensch, script by Metin Aksoy and Joseph Mensch. A Vertical release.
Running time: 1:31