REVIEW: ‘Ava’ Mixes Assassinations with Family Drama

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Ava mixes Assassinations with Family Drama - But Why Tho?

Ava is an action drama movie produced by Voltage Pictures starring Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Common, and Colin Farrell. Ava has a checkered past. Eight years ago she was suffering from drug and alcohol abuse. When the situation got out of control, she fled to the army where she proved highly capable and highly unstable. After getting out, she was recruited by a man named Duke to become an international assassin. While Ava struggles with the morality of her job, she’s one of the best at it. That is, until things go wrong.

We are introduced to Ava (Chastain) during one of her assignments. While she is clearly good at what she does, she also clearly has conflicts with what it is she does. She wants to believe her target has done something to bring her to their door. That their death is justice and not just a murder. This sense of conflict in Ava is a key piece of her character. As the viewer sees more and more of her, they find that virtually every aspect of her life exists in conflict. And there is only so long a person can stand being so divided.

Things come to a head for Ava when a hit in Saudi Arabia goes wrong. Fearing she is about to break under the pressure, her mentor and handler Duke (Malkovich) suggests she take some time off to clear her head, lest she falls into old habits. She agrees and decides to head to Boston. This is the city she is originally from. And while Duke has concerns about her potentially reopening old wounds, he is left with little choice but to consent to her plans.

Upon returning to Boston, Ava soon reconnects with her estranged family. Needless to say, it doesn’t go smoothly. Having basically ghosted them for eight years, there is a lot of tension and bad blood that needs sorting. And whatever axes she might want to bury need burying quick. Duke’s boss Simon (Farrell) doesn’t share Duke’s faith in her stability. Like all businessmen looking at a potential loss, he’s looking to minimize her damage to his company.

When I first began watching this movie, I expected a fairly predictable plotline. Woman made some huge mistakes, hurt her family, now comes back to make amends and try not to get them mixed up in her current life. And while these themes do exist, the situation is more nuanced than Ava simply being the troubled woman who made horrible life decisions she needs to make good with. As the movie progresses through its narrative, the viewer comes to realize the title character isn’t the only one with emotional blood on her hands. This was an extremely pleasant surprise.

By spreading the guilt for the past between several people, Ava mange’s to avoid the tired trope of using drug addiction like a villainous trait. Does Ava screw up and hurt people during her fight with addiction? Absolutely. Is every disaster and problem that touches her family directly caused by it? Happily not. Even when she is screwing up, Ava is still permitted to be the victim. This allows her to be human. Something that many movies seem to forget people struggling with addictions are.

Aside from the nuance that this story brings to its family drama, the rest of its plot is solid, if not exceptional. The family meetings are always played with that cool tension that only long-standing family issues can bring with them. This solid level of performance also extends to the acting which fills the scenes. While none of the actors ever really break out with the characters, no one really stumbles either. Instead, they provide convincing enough portrayals of their characters, though no one ever reaches the level of outstanding.

While on the other side of the coin, the action moments are delivered with a similar level of competency. I enjoyed each sequence as it played out, and there were a few moments that made me wince, but none of them will stand out permanently in the blur of countless action sequences I’ve watched.

At the end of the day, Ava provides an enjoyable and often nuanced story of family drama and international assassins. If you are looking for an easy to watch action flick, that also provides some feeling, this certainly isn’t a bad way to spend an hour and a half.

Ava is streaming now on Netflix.

Ava
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

At the end of the day, Ava provides an enjoyable and often nuanced story of family drama and international assassins. If you are looking for an easy to watch action flick, that also provides some feeling, this certainly isn’t a bad way to spend an hour and a half.