Review: ‘Ruthless’

Dermot Mulroney Can't Beat Clunky Dialogue And A Derivative Story In This Old Man Revenge Thriller.

Dermot Mulroney has signed up for some interesting roles lately. One could argue he is officially in his “old man action film” with nine films released this year alone. Over the last couple of years, the quality of the parts he’s taken has varied from the well-liked Scream VI to the shaky Umma and Gone in the Night. His latest work in Ruthless doesn’t stray much from his last few roles on his IMDB page. This character is stoic with alternative ideals about moral justice which he demonstrates by protecting a young woman somehow connected to his life. While he tries to elevate the material, director, and co-writer Art Camacho’s take on this “ruthless” character comes off as more laughable than watchable. 

Mulroney plays an everyday slightly disgruntled wrestling coach named Harry, though you wouldn’t know it from the first scene. While watching a movie, he admonishes a young man for groping his date without consent, something that escalates in the parking lot. Harry breaks the kid’s arm, and then asks him if he has health insurance before offering him a ride to the hospital. 

From there, his daughter is killed by her abuser and he returns to the hallowed halls of a high school gym. There he reluctantly connects with student Catia (Melissa Diaz) who is being abused by her step-father and neglected by her mother. When she is eventually trafficked by her father to a criminal organization run by Dale Remington (Jeffy Fahey), Harry does whatever he can to bring her home from Las Vegas no matter the consequences. 

I’ve said on this site before that when a film has more than three writers, be prepared for clunky dialogue. Four people are credited with this script besides Camacho, including James Dean Simington, Javier Reyna, and Koji Steven Sakai. With Ruthless, the dialogue is stale with an unnatural feel. There are comfortable pauses after statements and everything is said with serious sincerity. The plot feels like the low-budget version of Nobody but without any stable story structure. 

While Mulroney’s commitment to the part is worth watching nothing else much is. What he chooses to do next remains unknown but here’s hoping it’s better than Ruthless.

Ruthless is in theaters and on-demand. Watch the trailer below.

Cortland Jacoby
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.
review-ruthlessDermot Mulroney's always committed and solid performance can't save 'Ruthless' from an extremely low budget, stale and laughable dialogue, and a Hallmark movie production