The Tax Collector (2020)

“Clear my head of noise. Boom. Focus on my breathing. Observe my thoughts. Then I lean into my day.”“Clear my head of noise. Boom. Focus on my breathing. Observe my thoughts. Then I lean into my day.”

“Clear my head of noise. Boom. Focus on my breathing. Observe my thoughts. Then I lean into my day.”

So far, the year 2020 has provided films on both ends of the spectrum. More films that have been in the public’s eye before COVID-19 i.e. trailers, have had a better shot to succeed in this new model the film industry is forced to take. As more films release on VOD, lower budget independent films have more of an availability than ever before. Those that have the big time, blockbuster, need to be seen on the big screen feeling are still coming out too. The medium is sadly different. The Tax Collector has provided a whirlwind of images of it’s stars that just seem too good to be true.

The Tax Collector is set in Los Angeles – oddly, familiar territory for director David Ayer who seems obsessed about using this setting in 80% of his films. The couple of films that aren’t about gangs and street politics include the likes of Fury. It’s a breath of fresh air since it is actually a pretty good war film. There is also the academy award nominated and winning Suicide Squad (yes you read that right, it’s no illusion) but like Justice League the fandom has started the hashtag #releasetheayercut referring to the director’s final cut of the film since the theatrical version is a complete and utter mess.

At first glance the allure of this film comes from the casting of the main characters. The story follows two tax collectors who collect on behalf of all the criminals, drug lords and gangsters who need to pay their taxes to a higher up named Wizard. David (Bobby Soto) and Creeper (Shia LaBeouf) are ruthless, and violent in their mission to take no prisoners and intimidate the intimidators day after day. David gives a gives a galvanizing speech to a new client painting a bloody picture of all the bad things him and creeper have done to those that come up short. This speech would have landed better if we see more than just a flashback of these events.

“Are we killing anybody today? I’ve got f***ing nice shoes on.”

When one thinks of method acting few names pop up. Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Daniel Day-Lewis. We’ve seen all transform into their characters like never before. Bale has lost and gained somewhere over 300 pounds total spanning all of his roles. Heath Ledger, shockingly sad in his transformation into the Joker’s mind took his life in his Oscar winning performance. Method acting can go terribly wrong too. Dustin Hoffman for his Role in Marathon Man where he deprived himself of sleep for 3 days and nights and more recently Jared Leto’s Joker in Suicide Squad where he sent dead rats and other disgusting products to his castmates.

When word and proof of pictures got out that Shia LaBeouf got a full chest tattoo for his role as Creeper, the internet was set ablaze. For those that have tattoo’s know (and there is a lot of us) it is a lifelong commitment. Not all tattoos are good tattoos as most actors and actresses use the fake kind in their films. Shia’s case is different. Creeper is never seen without a shirt in all but one scene. In that one scene his chest is barely noticeable, so one has to ask this question. Why? Why get a massive permanent tattoo for a role when no one sees the artwork. Has Shia never heard of Henna? It doesn’t make sense as Shia appears to have turned over a new leaf in recent years.

Looking at the film as a whole it’s even more puzzling that this methodology was used for a film that is not what it seems. The Tax Collector is a poorly developed bloodbath that has a weird satanic cult feeling that doesn’t fit in with what the film is portraying on screen. The twist is completely out in left field, it’s gruesome to watch – instantly taking you out of the film. This film asks more questions than it answers. The character development is lackluster – Creeper is a complete sociopathic pit bull who maybe has one too many screws loose thanks to his life as a former boxer with cauliflower ear. Does the fact that he is a former boxer even get brought up? Shia is less than creepy as his characters name implies. I’m not too sure as I was too busy scratching my head at what was actually happening on screen when Conejo (Jose “Conejo” Martin) shows up on screen.

“I’ve seen motherf***ers skinned alive, dipped in acid. Arms and legs chain-sawed off, rolling around like a seal pup crying for mama. If your stack’s short, go rob a bank. Rob your own mother. There’s no excuses.”

David, for the most part is able to be more composed and impassive when conducting business. He is able to separate business life and family life effortlessly. He is most importantly a family man who loves his wife Alexis (Cinthya Carmona). David believes that he can solve any situation with words rather than violence but will use violence if pushed to those limits. The scenes with his family (and they are scarce) are the best ones because they feel authentic to the culture. David’s uncle Louis (George Lopez) acts as a father figure to him who molded David to take over once Louis retired. Their brief relationship is more compelling than David and Creeper as the two speak in sign over fear of a rat or prying ears and eyes. Give me more of those two interacting together.

The pacing in the first act is done well as we see the tax collectors make their rounds driving all over LA while also breaking up some disagreements between trigger happy rivals. Things slow down in the second act when the villain Conejo makes his way out of the shadows. Conejo is a dark character, almost too dark in what he would consider religious beliefs. This film is filled with a lot of unnecessary violence with horror film level amounts of blood and gore.

Overall, The Tax Collector misses every mark that it was trying it’s hardest to hit. It has the feeling of a poor man’s Bad Boys film from the perspective of the bad guys who are the good guys in this. The acting by Shia and Bobby can hit or miss at times throughout with a lot of painful dialogue. There is plenty of eye rolling in almost every scene. If I were to rate The Tax Collector, I’d rate it a 1.5 out of 5.

So, tell me guys, have you seen The Tax Collector and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.

The Tax Collector is written and directed by David Ayer is Rated R and has a 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Tax Collector was released on August 7th, 2020 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 35 minutes. The Tax Collector can be bought by online retailers such as Itunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu.

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*I do not own these photos used in this article; all rights reserved to the copyright holder*

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