Cypress trees in their grey winter garb, moss and rust-covered RVs, McMansions and omnipresent double-wides show off Greater Tampa to accurate effect in “Painkiller,” a thriller about the opioid epidemic, those who profit from from and a murderous “avenger” out to stop them.
It’s a straight-up C-movie starring Michael Paré (“Streets of Fire,” “City of Lies”) and horror movie mainstay Bill Oberst Jr. as a pill-pushing doc and the internet radio host and ex-cop hellbent to “out” him and others behind the “white collar genocide” crippling the “pill-plagued USA.”
And then there’s the hooded, masked “six shooter” killer who ranges far and wide, from Lutz to Temple Terrace, Baskin to Carrolwood, lecturing and shooting street dealing grandmas, doctors and lobbyists and Big Pharma execs and the like.
“D’ya ever stop to think about the lives you’ve ruined?”
The intrigues aren’t intriguing, the complications aren’t complex and the performances perfunctory.
And then there are all the incendiary, legally-actionable “headlines” slapped on the fake newspapers and on the screen after many a murder. That’s the sort of detail that comes from screenwriters whose only experience of newspapers is seeing them on the screen in B-movies.
As the body count piles up and we’re told, point blank, that the police approve of his work, we accept that filmmaker Mark Savage has no interest or idea how to create mystery or suspense. Perhaps he has a future in video games, where “story” isn’t as important as the “score.”
Kudos to any actor who gives her or his all to enterprises like this, but “Painkiller” is nothing to be proud of or highlight in your credits.
MPA Rating: unrated, graphic gun violence, sex, drug abuse, profanity
Cast: Michael Paré, Bill Oberst Jr., Alexander Pennecke, Kristina Beringer
Credits: Directed by Mark Savage, script by Tom Parnel, David Richards and Mark Savage. A Delirium release.
Running time: 1:25