"Due Justice" doesn't entirely do justice to the revenge picture subgenre.
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If you’ve ever seen “Death Wish,” “Death Sentence” or any other revenge picture with “Death” in its title you should pretty much know what to expect with “Due Justice” (in select theaters and on VOD beginning Friday, Nov. 24). It’s not a good movie per se, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an entertaining one despite its inherent ickiness/ineptitude.
Max (“Twilight” hunk Kellan Lutz) is a Seattle real estate attorney whose work often keeps him from spending quality time with his wife Sue (Hallie Shepherd) and their daughter Ari (Kyrie Chapelle). A fateful restaurant run-in blows the cover of his FBI agent brother Jerry (Manu Intiraymi) and places Max’s family in the crosshairs of Ellis (aces veteran character actor Jeff Fahey), whose gang Jerry had successfully infiltrated.
Ellis’ crew consisting of Roxy (Chelsea Lopez), Keko (Raymond Power), Tommy (Christian Day), Junior (Edgar Martinez) and Pete (Steve Vanderzee) turn up at Max’s apartment where they kill Sue and Jerry and kidnap Ari.
Det. Santiago (Efren Ramirez, he was Pedro in “Napoleon Dynamite”) is assigned to investigate the murders and the kidnapping. His inquiry draws ties to a human organ trafficking ring ran by Ellis. Meanwhile, Max – a military veteran – takes it upon himself to take out the trash with extreme prejudice.
“Due Justice” is written and directed by one-time Indianapolis resident Javier Reyna (“Regionrat”) and it’s a weird one to be certain. On paper you’d assume Lutz’s Max would be our protagonist, but he’s mostly just a vengeful cipher. We spend far more time with Santiago and Ellis.
The way Reyna wrote and Ramirez plays Santiago is completely confounding, which makes the character somewhat hilarious and interestingly intriguing. We’re “treated” to numerous scenes of Santiago driving around with his sons Sam (Alfred Castillo) and Ray (Kai Bagley) and a prolonged sequence of them playing cornhole at the picture’s conclusion – none of which moves the needle nor the narrative forward.
Fahey is undeniably value added to “Due Justice.” I almost feel as though he’s acting in a different/better movie, but he elevates the material at every turn and is intentionally funny as opposed to Ramirez.
This is the sort of flick where Max dumps Ellis’ son’s cremains from an urn in front of him and later beats a junkie woman to death with a nailed baseball bat and we’re supposed to cheer. I’m more likely to jeer “Due Justice” – which doesn’t entirely do justice to the revenge picture subgenre – but it’s a curious curio.