Adverse (2020) Film Review

Adverse (2020), directed by Brian A. Metcalf | FEATURE FILM REVIEW

Thomas Ian Nicholas leads a stellar cast in Adverse (2020), a thriller brought to us by Brian A. Metcalf who not only writes, directs and acts but also produces alongside his lead actor. The film is certainly a collaborative effort from these two and they are joined on the journey by some notable actors, namely Sean Astin, Penelope Ann Miller, Lou Diamond Phillips and Mickey Rourke.

Redemption or revenge is the driving force

The movie opens with Ethan (Thomas Ian Nicholas) an ex-convict attempting to go straight by doing a job driving a taxi for Uber copycat ‘Ride’, whilst also being a guardian to his younger sister Mia (Kelly Arjen) with whom he has troubles communicating.

Beyond that his only troubles are having to meet with his therapist (Lou Diamond Phillips) and Lars (Jake T Austin), his sister’s drug addicted boyfriend.

Mickey Rourke and Thomas Nicholas in Adverse (2020)
Mickey Rourke and Thomas Nicholas in Adverse (2020). Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

Initially the story seems to be leading towards one of redemption, where a young man tries to get his life and family back together after some wrong choices which he made in the past. However, several underworld characters are circling the story.

A passenger in his taxi (Mickey Rourke) admits that whilst he lends money, he doesn’t recommend borrowing money from him; Lars, the sister’s boyfriend, is seen visiting Dante (Brian A. Metcalf), a seedy nightclub owner who also has connections with loans and drugs.

Gradually these characters take on a stronger presence in the film and after an unfortunate event the movie flips from redemption to revenge thriller, more in the style of Death Wish (1974).

To say any more about the plot would spoil any twists along the way.

Mickey Rourke is back in town

Thomas Ian Nicholas is definitely the main star of Adverse (2020); his performance is very different from many of his previous roles, especially in films such as American Pie (1999) but all eyes will be on Mickey Rourke who never truly capitalised from his success with The Wrestler (2008).

For reasons that are superficially obvious, Rourke’s facial performances are now rather expressionless, though he still can convey a lot through his voice and the look in his eyes. When he comes on screen, he really draws the attention and it can overpower some of the other actors with whom he is working.

Except for these two actors, none of the other big names are given much to do and some of the younger, more up-and-coming actors are left struggling to compete with the obvious experience around them.

Adverse reaction

The opening of Adverse (2020) promises an interesting dramatic piece which is not delivered on, though what we get is not bad.

Actor Lou Diamond Phillips in Adverse (2020)
Actor Lou Diamond Phillips in Adverse (2020). Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

Between them, Thomas Ian Nicholas and Brian A Metcalf have created an exciting, bloody revenge thriller in Adverse (2020) which at only 94 minutes doesn’t outstay its welcome. The quality from Thomas Ian Nicholas gives the film a good central performance but the big names involved in the movie do highlight the gulf in quality with those who are less experienced, making part of the ride feel a little off kilter.

Brian A. Metcalf is certainly an interesting talent worth keeping an eye on for the future.

IMDb score: 4.3 | Film Forums: 6.0