John (Michael Lombardi) is a fine upstanding pastor, a turn the other cheek guy who won’t even stand up for himself and his daughters when an asshole (Clerks’ Brian O’Halloran) claims their Christmas tree for himself. When his daughter is brutally murdered while on her way to a party, he erupts with rage. It’s only when a police detective with a secret finds the culprit does he see how far he can go for his revenge.
It’s something that many people who have been on the tragic side of lawlessness have felt: the need for retaliation. Directors Samuel Gonzalez, Jr and Bridget Smith delve into this dark side of humanity with this gruesome version of ‘an eye for an eye’. Joseph Gatt is a terrifyingly imposing figure as the embodiment of evil, a seemingly unstoppable machine who you are desperate to get his comeuppance.
Despite the story's seriousness, there’s an Evil Dead II feel to the last act as our Ash surrogate John bears the brunt of the bloodshed. There’s also plenty of impressive practical effects that make the climax a fun watch. The hard-rocking soundtrack keeps the energy up throughout, backed up on-screen with appearances by Papa Roach’s Jacobi Shaddix and the entire line-up of Five Finger Death Punch as various baddies, plus Mötley Crüe’s legendary schlong Tommy Lee as a club DJ.
Despite the grim tone of the majority of the film, The Retaliators bursts to life as a riotous, air-punching, gory thrill ride, twisting it into a crowd-pleaser.