The Tax Collector. Review

With his last two films, David Ayer cemented himself as one of these critics least favourite filmmakers currently working in Hollywood. The aesthetic choices in both Suicide Squad and Bright give off the impression that Ayers main interest in the production of those films was pandering to what a 13-year-old edgelord might think looks “cool.” Before he inflicts Bright 2 on an unsuspecting Netflix viewership he has made this gangster flick that easily wins the award for most boring title of 2020. The plot sees Bobby Soto and Shia LaBeouf play two criminal enforces who go around collecting debts owed by various gangs on the streets of LA. Is the film as bad as the title and Ayers last two features suggest?
Yes and no. The film desperately wants to maintain a “hard” exterior in its depiction of LA gang culture. Once again it falls victim to Ayers insistence that everything needs to be played through the lens of a teenager’s idealised view of “edge”. His screenplay comes across as if it was written by someone who watched a lot of gangster films they perceived to be “edgy” whilst simultaneously getting angry that they need to hand their work in on time. The film embarrassingly attempts to maintain this tone throughout. If viewers have seen any street-level gangster film in the last 30 years everything The Tax Collector offers will come across as screamingly one note. Ayers previous two films had moments that were prime fodder for so bad it’s instantly memorable watch parties. This effort will slide off their brain the moment the credits roll. The performances certainly don’t do anything to help. The two leads are stranded with some of the dullest material ever seen in this genre and struggle to elevate it. The entire production has the feel of a cast and creative team going through the motions. They know films like this have a target audience they can very easily market the final product towards. Films this generic could very well have an audience but there’s also much better available in this exact tone and style (especially in the age of streaming .)
The Tax Collector is arguably just as embarrassingly edgelord as David Ayres previous two films. Unlike both Suicide Squad and Bright, there are no mimetically memorable moments that make the film somewhat enjoyable for ironic viewers. His latest effort feels as if it was written by a computer algorithm that watched every gangster film perceived to be “hardcore” and then spat out its findings in the form of a screenplay. This level of insane genericness is reflected at all levels of this production. Gangster film completions might get something out of it but everyone else should avoid at all costs.

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