VOD film review: Retaliation
Ease of watching5
Ivan Radford | On 27, Mar 2021
Director: Ludwig Shammasian, Paul Shammasian
Cast: Orlando Bloom, Janet Montgomery, Anne Reid, Charlie Creed-Miles
Where to watch Retaliation online in the UK: iTunes
From playing Legolas in The Lord of the Rings to Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean, Orlando Bloom isn’t an actor necessarily associated with gravitas. Retaliation, a film about a survivor of childhood abuse, gives the star a chance to bring some dramatic weight to the screen – and he certainly doesn’t hold back.
He plays Malcolm, known as “Malky”, a demolition worker who is working to take apart a church before the whole site torn down. His motivation goes beyond professional into something deeply personal, as we learn that he was abused as a young boy by the priest at that church – a burden he bears with a glowering sense of vengeful purpose. He is ferocious in his dismantling of the bricks-and-mortar establishment, wielding a hammer against an altar and at one point shouldering a cross with Jesus still mounted on it.
Retaliation isn’t exactly subtle with its symbolism or themes, but there’s something compelling in how unvarnished and open it is in its depiction of someone trying to find catharsis and release from an unspoken trauma. Bloom is a tormented, introverted presence, yet lashes out with violence when encountering anything that angers him. He also turns that rage against himself in one uncomfortable scene, while moments of intimacy with his sort-of girlfriend (Janet Montgomery) are intentionally unpleasant and cold affairs – in short, viewers should be aware in advance that this isn’t an easy watch.
A finale delivers a particularly grim conclusion, but the script by Geoff Thompson brings with it the weight of experience and directors Ludwig Shammasian and Paul Shammasian ensure that honest, blunt tone extends throughout the 90 minutes. The result is a tough but thoughtful study of trauma, recovery, masculinity and shame – and at its dark heart is an intense, committed Orlando Bloom, who’s almost unrecognisable.