16th Apr2021

‘A Reckoning’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: June Dietrich, Kevin Makely, Todd A. Robinson, Lance Henriksen, Meg Foster | Written and Directed by Justin Lee

If you have read the synopsis for A Reckoning you’d be forgiven for thinking you might have seen this movie before. It reads ‘After her husband is brutally murdered, a widowed homesteader seeks revenge and leaves everything behind to hunt down his killer.’ Very similar sounding to the brilliant The Nightingale from director Jennifer Kent. I will more than likely be mentioning that movie again in this review.

It’s not always essential to have action throughout, even if a movie is labeled as some kind of revenge thriller. A slow burn is sometimes the way to go but A Reckoning does feel like a very slow movie despite coming in at a little under eighty minutes. There are lots of scenes of the lead character Mary O’ Malley just silently walking and not doing much else. Some moments just feel like they are there to extend the length of the movie a little and no other reason. It’s a shame because plenty of the rest of the movie is extremely watchable and when two characters are chatting to each other and interacting it’s much improved.

As she is featured in almost every scene, it was essential that June Dietrich put in a good performance and for the most part, she does. It is hard of course, especially for an inexperienced actor to have much presence when in scenes alone and this is when she struggles. But when given an actor to work with and some dialogue, she’s enjoyable.

A Reckoning does have plenty of issues though. Like I’ve already mentioned it does drag, it is very light on action. But there are bigger problems. Because we don’t get to see anything at all of her husband’s murder or of their relationship or even anything about them at all. So it’s hard to understand Mary’s feelings other than her husband has been murdered. I’m sure some would say that is enough but I personally needed more. I want to feel the emotion that the led character is going through. And because of this, the final scene is nowhere near as emotional as it should have been.

The main villain and murderer should have also been a key part of the movie and it’s okay that he doesn’t show up until the last thirty minutes. The problem is that when he does turn up he’s like some over-the-top pantomime villain. His lines are at times ludicrous to the point that you’ll be laughing rather than scared of this person who is supposed to be a deadly killer.

One of the big positives from A Reckoning though are the locations. I believe shot in Oregon, it’s absolutely stunning from start to finish. Beautiful beaches, stunning forests, and breathtaking mountain tops and it is all shot really well. The filmmakers got this part of the film spot-on. And the final showdown between Mary and her husband’s murderer happens with the rain pouring down alongside rocks and a lake. It’s a shame the actual gunfight isn’t quite as great as it looks.

If you’ve never seen The Nightingale (and if not why not?), then A Reckoning is worth a watch if it sounds like your kind of film. But if you have, The Nightingale does everything A Reckoning does but better.

A Reckoning is out now in the US, the film comes to UK DVD on May 31st 2021.

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