Directed by: Ludwig Shammasian, Paul Shammasian
Written by: Geoff Thompson
Starring: Janet Montgomery, Orlando Bloom, Anne Reid, James Smillie
Religion was created by the mortals to instill upon us a belief about an immortal being pulling strings from above. What primarily started as a way to introduce social order among human beings has now completely gained devoted following (and followers) around the globe. Whether god exists or not is up for debate. But what absolutely unquestionably exists is the concept of the divine deity. The one true creator with infinite power to conjure universes and produce life, like grass growing on a lawn. With such great powers came great sermons, delivered to us by priests in a church. These priests are considered to be the mouthpiece of gods. And since god is believed to be kind and compassionate, it’s only natural that the priests - the representatives - would also be charged with benevolence.
This level of trust is what impels some people to attend the churches. The feeling of being close to a “Man of God” washes their body with sanctity. In this process, one often forgets to dislodge our priests to the position of a common man. They simply don’t see them as a vessel of sin. This is exactly why when Malky (Orlando Bloom) opens up about his trauma in front of her mother (Anne Reid), she responds by saying, “That didn’t happen to you.” She chooses denial over fact. She sides with religion, not her son.
What happens is that in his childhood, Malky is sexually abused by a priest named Jimmy (James Smillie). This tribulation has emotionally scarred his adult life. He inflicts self-harm on his body and wallows in porn and rough sex. In one chilling scene, he looks up as if bored while her girlfriend, Emma (Janet Montgomery), unbuttons her clothes. It’s disturbing because you see a man who does not recognize love in lovemaking.
There is a rage burning inside Malky, which erupts at the sight of Jimmy. Some consider the church to be an abode of the almighty. For Malky, it’s just another structure made up of walls and bricks. This theory enables him to demolish a church without flinching. He is an embittered man, and Retaliation gives him moments to exhibit his annoyance. Admittedly, among all of them, only the one that occurs in the final scene is delivered with the necessary fervor. Elsewhere, Malky’s inner turbulence takes a hit and comes across as a limp. The blame should not be put on the actors but on the treatment. There is a wall built around Malky for the majority of the time. Due to which I didn’t feel for or against this tortured soul going through hell. I mostly watched Retaliation with a neutral mind, which, of course, should not be the case for a viewer. There must be an active engagement, especially with these types of films. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with me.
However, as I am required to award a rating to this film, I will give Retaliation three stars. The reason: the sporadic points where it works, it works fabulously. You can almost sense a tornado arriving when Malky confronts Jimmy for the first time (the sound design is gripping). If only such sentiments were present frequently.
Retaliation will be released in digitally on Friday 26th March