VOD Review: 'Silencer' Starring Johnny Messner And Danny Trejo

Of all of the action movie clichés the “hitman who is forced to take one last job” has to be the most used, that or the cop who’s two weeks from retirement, but for our purposes here we’ll just assume that “one last job” is in the top spot. Silencer starring Johnny Messner, Danny Trejo, Robert LaSardo, and Tito Ortiz follows just that plot line. Now let me clarify before we get going, a cliché is not a bad thing if it’s executed correctly, there’s such a negative connotation but as long as the cliché isn’t used just for the sake of checking a box it can be a good thing. Silencer follows ex-assassin Frank (Messener) as he’s called back into action by his former drug lord boss Ochoa(not surprisingly, Trejo) and right hand man Lazarus (Robert LaSardo). When Frank elects not to finish the job he’s given, Lazarus and his gang shoot Frank’s girlfriend and kidnap her child. Frank must then call back all of his lethal skills to take out a drug kingpin and his empire while saving the little girl he’s grown to love. So, yeah, nothing exactly knew here but there is a lack of proper action movies centered around South American drug lords. As we saw with Sicario if done with care and the right amount of talent a myriad of stories can be taken from that region. As I mentioned, there’s nothing wrong with cliché….but was the movie strong enough to elevate those aspects or was there little more to it?

Sadly, there was little more to it. This flick was not without merit, and I’ll get to that soon, but as a whole the film left a LOT to be desired. First things first, the action. You have a retired assassin going up against a drug gang so it’s not like you have to dig deep to think of set pieces but somehow just when the action gets going it’s over. The movie is quite a bit slower than I expected and when things finally being to kick into high-gear in the middle of the second act it all ends not a minute after it begins. You’ve heard the term ‘Non-stop Action’ used to describe countless movies, this was the opposite of that…literally start then stop action. Take for instance a scene in the middle of the film where Timothy (Tito Ortiz) and Frank track down one of the gang’s lieutenants to a strip club owned by the boss. Frank heads to the back room while Timothy holds everyone at gunpoint, eventually he’s rushed by 6 guys. Now you have Tito Ortiz, MMA legend, 6 bad guys, and a strip club, those are the textbook ingredients for a great fight scene, but it’s over in all of 20 seconds. This was the MO of each action scene in the movie and the fact that they action they showed was actually really good it became more disappointing then had the action sucked completely.

The biggest transgression I encountered was the fact that watching this movie has lead me to type the following sentence. I really wasn’t feeling Danny Trejo. The guy is one of my favorite character actors of all time, he is a master of playing the same type of character in 100 different projects and always nailing it. It wasn’t really his performance, it’s more that he wasn’t the right guy for the character they wrote. His character Ochoa is an unhinged sociopath…sounds like Trejo’s type right? Well, I left a word out of that, he’s an unhinged emotional sociopath (how’s that for an oxymoron). Ochoa spends equal parts of the film as grandfatherly nice guy, sadistic drug lord, and a man on the verge of crying for loss. I suppose this could have been done in a compelling way but it’s just not the kind of thing Danny Trejo excels at. Lastly is Chuck Lidell. I’m not going to go so far as to say no fighter or wrestler can act, not in a world where the Rock and Dave Bautista are starring in the biggest movies of the summer, but I will say they also shouldn’t get an open invitation to Hollywood. Lidell is painful to watch, it doesn’t help that his character is an insufferable dick but ole’ Chuck can’t do anything to make his character believable much less intimidating.

There’s a nice dichotomy here though, one of the pleasant surprises this movie brought was Tito Ortiz, who I would have put money on being horrible in any movie outside of playing a silent Bond villain. I’m not saying Ortiz oozes charisma but he definitely shows a talent at playing the tough sidekick. His sheer physicality projects intimidation from the screen and he delivers his lines as well as anyone in the movie…honestly, I’ll go so far as to say better than anyone else in the movie. Silencer is not an unwatchable film, if you have a few hours to kill and have already seen the summer action blockbusters you probably won’t regret spending the 6 bucks to stream it…but just the same I’d wait for Netflix.

2 out of 5