Female action heroes aren’t a new thing to Hollywood, neither are female villains. The industry has been seeing a bit of a surge in female leads over the years and it’s been a positive thing for the most part since it’s been helping to elevate women in a big way and show that they can be every bit as effective in an action movie, which again, isn’t really anything new. That could be why Ava, which came out in 2020, isn’t exactly a barn-burner, but it is a fairly dark and somewhat entertaining story of a former addict turned soldier turned assassin that has a lot of personal issues that start appearing once she starts to question the targets she’s after as to what they could have done that would make it possible for someone to want to kill them. There have been a lot of assassin movies made throughout the years, and morality is usually a pretty common thing to see in such movies, as the killing of other human beings for money is something that does bring up the issue of moral character and how cold-blooded one has to be to take the life of another in order to get paid.
It doesn’t help that Ava has, as mentioned, personal issues that are fully capable of interfering with her job since she hasn’t seen her family for 8 years and after the job that the audience sees her complete at the beginning of the movie, she travels home to Boston to see her mother, who is laid up in hospital with a case of angina, and her sister, who is now engaged to the man Ava left behind almost a decade before. The death of her father, who Ava was firmly set against thanks to the fact that he cheated on her mother, who in turn sided with her father, made it safe for Ava to return, though one can easily see that she’s not exactly welcomed in by anyone, even if they’re willing to be civil.
When her handler, Duke, played by John Malkovich, confronts his first protege, Simon, played by Colin Farrell, about Ava’s well-being, Simon is adamant that she has become a huge liability and needs to be taken out. Duke argues against this, showing that he cares for Ava and believes that it was the fault of those that are giving her intelligence, namely, himself. Eventually, Simon ends up killing Duke and sending Ava a file showing her Duke’s final moments. Without surprise, Ava vows to kill Simon, who believes that killing her will take care of his problem. In the meantime, Ava’s former fiance, her sister’s current boyfriend/fiance, is in debt with a local gambling den to the tune of $80 thousand dollars. Ava pays this debt and warns the woman that runs the den to stay away from her family shortly after her discussion with Simon. Upon returning to her hotel room, Ava raids the minibar, which is a big deal thanks to her former addiction. When Simon shows up the two have a shootout which devolves into a fistfight that leaves them both injured and winded. Simon then tells Ava if he sees her again he’ll kill her.
Ava ends up following Simon after the fire alarm is pulled and the building is evacuated and kills him to prevent Simon from coming after her family. Following this, Ava gives her sister the account number of a Swiss bank account that is in her name and holds her small fortune that she’s earned from killing before heading out. Before the credits begin to roll the audience can see that Ava is being trailed by the young woman, Camille, that was introduced as Simon’s daughter and protege. There are a few great things about this movie, such as the fight scenes, the tortured assassin that is attempting to put her life back together, and the realization that it’s not going to happen that easily, if at all. Ava went down a road that no one could follow and disappeared for so long that people ended up going on with their lives in order to get past the idea of losing her. It’s a bit of a muted plot to be fair, but it’s enjoyable enough.
In a lot of ways though there are certain tropes that assassin movies tend to follow, much as any other movie might, and it becomes a little tiring that nothing new ever appears to happen. It might sound like nitpicking, and it kind of is since this movie is fairly solid, but there’s still a desire for something more, a bit more of a pop to the senses than this movie delivers. Overall, it does work as an assassin movie, but it could have been just a little edgier here and there if only to make it stand out a bit more.
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