Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Retribution (DVD Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 10.01.2015

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Retribution (DVD Movie Review)

Retribution (UK Rating: 15)

Retribution did the rounds at the American film festivals last year, Sundance and South X Southwest included, under the name of Hellion, but the American term for somebody who's unruly and troublesome would have meant little to British audiences, so its arrival in the UK on DVD comes complete with a new title. Curiously, the original is a much better indicator of what to expect from the film, which is certainly not the thick-ear crime thriller that Retribution implies. Released on 12th January, Lights, Camera, Action! gives readers the lowdown…
Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Retribution (DVD Movie Review)

Hollis (Aaron Paul) hasn't coped with the death of his wife, neglecting his two sons and turning to drink. As the older boy Jacob (Josh Wiggins) increasingly goes off the rails, Child Protective Services places the youngster, Wes (Deke Gardner), in the custody of their aunt Pam (Juliette Lewis), and when Hollis continually fails to improve the chances of the little boy returning, Jacob takes matters into his own hands.

This is no thriller. Instead, it's a low budget social drama with the issues faced by a one-parent blue collar family at its heart. The territory is familiar - recession-hit town, out of control teenager already with a criminal record, family conflict - the only twist being that the parent of the family is the father. Parenthood is the main theme of the film: the older son behaves more like the parent, even if his actions are misguided and have terrible consequences, and the aunt, who never wanted children of her own, ironically finds herself looking after the younger boy - and doing it well.

That familiarity is one of the film's own issues. The family's situation is established early on but it's as if director and writer, Kat Candler, thinks her audience has not quite got the message, so the storyline soon starts to go round in circles and simply gets repetitive. The background of motorcross - which the film's publicity presents as being of huge significance - is more of a relief from Jacob's catalogue of misdemeanours, his father's drinking, and their fast-food diet. Thankfully, just as the film looks to be digging itself into a grim hole, it suddenly starts to speed up towards its distressing climax.

This is one of Aaron Paul's smaller post-Breaking Bad efforts and he's also an executive producer. He leads a cast that's mainly made up of young boys and, while his character is no role model, as an actor he certainly gives the youngsters something to aspire to. He's impressively intense and emotionally illiterate as the one time ball player fallen on hard times. As his son, Josh Wiggins is full of teenage anger and confusion, one moment lashing out, the next trying to give his little brother the father figure he needs.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Retribution (DVD Movie Review)

Rated 6 out of 10


With all the characteristics of a low budget movie, including handheld camera work, Retribution's biggest asset is its cast, who deliver honest performances. Their commitment to this blue collar drama deserves a stronger story, which would have meant a more powerful, satisfying film. Then there's the title…

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