This recent action thriller from director Ravi Dhar is a welcome throwback to the grindhouse action genre that consists of both brutal violence and a typical plot in this genre of film.
After serving a ten-year prison sentence for a murder as the set-up man in a gang of robbers, John Falcon is getting released from prison. He has only one thing on his mind: take out his old gang, who have set him up to begin with and to do it at any costs.
The mastermind behind the whole plot is John’s younger brother Sam, a drug-addicted dealer who has been holding John’s wife Darling hostage during the entire prison term. Darling, like Sam, has a serious drug addiction and is forced into a complicated relationship with Sam. Meanwhile, John hunts down the members of his old team one by one and all he needs is a car, a shotgun, and his street smarts to get the job done.
Written by John Fallon (who also plays the mute gang member Tongues), this is a straightforward action film with revenge as the central plot. The central character is by far one of the most bad-ass anti-heroes in films today. Actor and stuntman Nick Principe, whom die-hard horror films will best know him as “Chromeskull” in the Laid to Rest films, plays the vicious John Falcon. Falcon is exactly the type who doesn’t take anything from anyone. His opening scene involves him in prison and confronting a fellow inmate for losing a bet and when he tries to get stiffed, the inmate (and the audience) knows this is clearly one man who is not to be messed with.
Todd Farmer does a good job playing the main nemesis Sam, John’s drug-addicted brother who sets him up for the whole ordeal and not so much because he wanted John’s wife, but more because he saw his older brother as a threat to his wanting everything. Of course, there is the required bumbling sidekick and after seeing him in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV, Trent Haaga made the perfect bumbler in this film. As for Robin Sydney’s Darling, she performs well in the flashback scenes but the present scenes only show her all doped up and scared as if she doesn’t know if she was going to go that far with everything that’s happened.
AMERICAN MUSCLE is definitely a millennial grindhouse action film that is actually pretty good, especially when it comes to a shocking twist in the finale. Definitely worth checking out if you love grindhouse cinema.
WFG RATING: B/B- (B if you like grindhouse/B- if you’re not too thrilled with that genre)
A Snowfort Pictures/Automatic Entertainment Production. Director: Ravi Dhar. Producers: Jeffrey Giles, Michael Lurie, and Travis Stevens. Writer: John Fallon. Cinematography: Ravi Dhar. Editing: Robert Deichmann, Ravi Dhar, Brody Gusar, and Mike Scantlan.
Cast: Nick Principe, Robin Sydney, Todd Farmer, Trent Haaga, John Fallon, Malice McMunn, Joshua Lou Friedman.