High functioning people often like their stuff just so. Change something and they are not happy. That is doubly true when it comes to tax collectors. Tax collectors are men who work for crime lords doing the rounds to all the people who owe them money.
Such a job requires a particular set of skills and a certain type of person to do it. David Cuevas (Bobby Soto – A Better Life) is that man. Despite the fact that he has a family David does a very dangerous job. That job is operating as a tax collector for gang members operating in Los Angeles. He does this with the help of his partner Creeper (Shia LaBeouf – Honey Boy, Fury). Things are going as smoothly as they can in this type of job until they aren’t. This puts David’s family in danger. He cannot tolerate that.
Does this all sound familiar. Decent guy doing bad things because of circumstances. Something goes wrong and you find yourself cheering for the “bad” to come out alright. It is alright to make a film using a well worn film idea, what is not acceptable is that you do not instill that framework with something extraordinary. Something to separate it from the others.
Written, produced and directed by David Ayer (Suicide Squad, Street Kings) he is the person to look to for any of the flaws here. He has his finger in almost everything behind the camera. The major decisions about the how, when and what about The Tax Collector were made by him. A major one is how long it takes for things to get going. You need either tension or action in a film of this sorts and for long stretches neither are happening. Then all of a sudden an explosion of action coming at you fast and furious like. Almost too fast.
Ugly keeps coming with awkward dialogue. Each of the actors tries his best to make what is coming out of their mouths seem plausible and natural. Precious few are successful at this. You find yourself wavering between embarrassment and cringing.
Shia LaBeouf is great despite all this. Unfortunately he is not the main character as the film could have done with more of him.