How can an action movie with Lucas Till, Tyrese Gibson, Ruby Rose, Mercedes Varnado aka Sasha Banks, Don Johnson, and classic screen baddie Paul Ben-Victor be so damned boring? Tom DeNucci’s The Collective makes this improbability a reality. Grim, dull, and way too serious, the film creaks from one poorly-executed setpiece to the next, wasting a ton of talent that deserve far better than this.
This is an unforunate showcase role for Till, who plays Sam, a new recruit into The Collective, an elite strike force who live by the motto, “May the privileged fall”. These ethical mercenaries are tasked with hunting those criminals deemed untouchable due to their wealth and powerful connections. Sam shows off his killing skills early as he busts through a training exercise, killing the target without breaking a sweat. This is enough to impress The Collective’s leader, Liam (Johnson), who promptly…sends him to HQ to be a desk jockey.
But of course, this won’t last long. Sam is quickly swept up in a mission to stop chatty human trafficker Miro Lindell (Ben-Victor), who has kidnapped a problematic whistleblower worth a lot of money. Ben-Victor is the only actor in the film who seems to be having a good time, frolicking around and repeating his numerous threats like a psycho.
Does anybody pay to see Tyrese Gibson not be a loudmouth wise-ass like he does in the Fast & Furious movies? Definitely not, and they’ll hate his performance here as Hugo, The Collective’s top agent. In a somewhat clever bit, we see Hugo bulldozing his way through an assignment while Sam, who couldn’t be more different, maps out how he’d do things in a polar opposite way. The question the film seems to be asking is which agent’s tactic is most effective?
Unfortunately, when Sam and Hugo link up to stop Miro, all they do is argue. And not like fun buddy-comedy arguing. Sam wants to do one thing, and Hugo, who is usually talking through a radio, tells him it’s a bad idea. This goes on for far too long, none of it even attempting to be humorous or entertaining in any way.
The action is weak and poorly shot, although credit to Till who shows off some decent athletic gifts. The minimal budget does none of them any favors. Sam’s gun literally sounds like a prop weapon from a high school play, and the setpieces are unremarkable.
Varnado and Rose are two of the most legit female badasses in movies right now, but the ex-WWE superstar spends much of her time hiring assassins to do Miro’s dirty work, while Rose talks on the phone and holds a clipboard. Their time on screen is a waste, and probably the biggest offense this movie makes.
Only when a human auction explodes into chaos, with victims running buckwild in vengeful rage, does The Collective embrace the over-the-top tone it should’ve had from the beginning. I felt bad for literally everyone in this movie that they felt compelled to be part of this.
The Collective will open in theaters and VOD on August 4th.