What if the IRS took it to the streets?
David Ayer needs no intro. If you’re a film buff, you know his touch. As solid standouts, “Training Day” and “End of Watch” are ones he may (or may not) be known for the most in terms of ruthless storytelling. But you can’t win’em all. “Suicide Squad” raised eyebrows and led to some finger-pointing over film’s execution. Either way, this man’s made a mark, which leads to anticipation for what’s on deck.
His latest, “The Tax Collector,” has been on the radar for a little over a year. Not only serving as writer/director, he also produces the film, which stars Bobby Soto, Shia LaBeouf, Cinthya Carmona, George Lopez, and Hip-Hop artist Jose “Conejo” Martin. The plot follows two tax collectors (played by Soto and LaBeouf) for an LA crime lord whose strong-arming business winds up in shambles when a now well-connected, old rival (Conejo) reappears with harsh intentions.
In a nutshell, in true Ayer-like fashion, “The Tax Collector” is a heavy film. Its narrative is deep-rooted in family, partnership, loyalty, heavy build-up, a twist, and the inevitable chaotic climax. So, if you’ve seen one crime-laced flick, you’ve seen them all. While the film can feel a little slow a handful of times, it is done for emphasis, allowing some character development upon its leads. I didn’t feel it was as dark as “Training Day” or emotionally harsh as “End of Watch,” but it rides the same wavelength of grit and intensity when it calls for it. The film pulls no punches in terms of its rough, rugged, and raw appeal upon the visceral side of the drug/gang game.
The film isn’t geared for everyone. It’ll ruffle feathers and might be called out on plausibility. What film isn’t? But the art of cinema at the hands of Ayer will always present something that’ll resonate. You’ll feel the angst. The soundtrack is fairly good, the cast (mainly Latino) has swag, and the execution is pretty wild. Like all of his films, the story thrives off an odd pairing and I appreciate his bold move on making the lesser known name ride hard as lead, alongside a menacing antagonist. (Conejo is one intimidating brotha! Fantastic Job!) Truth be told, “The Tax Collector” is fire in many ways. It isn’t Ayer’s best, but definitely not his worst. This piece stands its ground.
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Run Time: 1:35
Starring: Bobby Soto, Shia LaBeouf, Cinthya Carmonia, George Lopez, and Jose “Conejo” Martin
Directed by: David Ayer