By: Laurie Coker
By virtue of the genre, thrillers should be thrilling and Ava, starring Jessica Chastain falls short in countless ways. Instead of using his exceptional cast better, director Tate Taylor relies on clichés and wow-able international sets. Chastain puts heart and soul into the role of a former drug-abuser turned hitwoman but even that doesn’t breathe life into a plodding, implausible plot. Ava never builds momentum.
Ava rehashes every hitman thriller I can remember. Little stands out expect for Chastain and co-stars John Malkovich and Colin Ferrell. After recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, Ava, turns her life around -first in the military and then in murderer for hire trade, with forty confirmed kills. Unfortunately, Ava’s demons run deep. Broken and battered ties with family, a desire to know why her targets are targeted, and a rocky mental state plague her and as with so many hitmen before her, she becomes the mark.
Chastain stuns battling the baddies sent to “close” her. She demonstrates all the class, cool and cunning of an action hero, but Ava is not the suitable vehicle. It lacks the punch and power she deserves. Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde got it but Ava lacks all the thrill, style, and glamor offered up by Atomic Blonde. Chastain has what it takes, she truly does, but even with Malkovich and Ferrell costarring in it, the plot plays out sloppily and with no surprises. The secondary story of a dysfunctional family torn apart by lies and infidelity clunks along and feels forced and out of place. Neither it, nor the primary plot are particularly interesting or engaging anyway. Who cares? – keeps coming to mind.
Regardless of Chastain’s remarkable performance, nothing in Ava is worth caring about. Writer Matthew Newton appears to have taken two completely separate story ideas – one wholly outlandish the other dull as dirt – and melded them together, poorly. Fight scenes disappoint too. They have potential but only one stands out and it is not the final battle sequence. Clad in a gorgeous red dress, hit two in the film, Ava takes out her target and countless soldiers but this in early in the film and from there its downhill.
Ava demonstrates that even with all the right ingredients, a recipe can fail miserably. Where other films in the genre can make fresh from ordinary, Taylor and Newton cannot. Chastain deserves another chance to prove her action-hero mettle, so hopefully the right team notices. Ava earns a dismal D in the grade book.