My last review opened with a statement about my yearly losing battle of conducting all-month-long horror marathons. This year, although it’s only been four days, I can say that I’m doing well. While I’m sure I will be watching a genuine horror film tonight at some point, I wanted to take a break and discuss a different genre film — David Ayer’s The Tax Collector.
Street enforcers David (Bobby Soto, The Quarry, A Better Life) and Creeper (Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy, Fury), known as ‘the tax collectors,’ are responsible for collecting money from 43 different local gangs for the crime lord Wizard. When one of Wizard’s old rivals returns from Mexico, a war erupts, leaving David in a desperate situation to protect his family.
Outside of the horror genre, one of my favorite directors is, without a doubt, David Ayer. With films like End of Watch, Harsh Times, and Fury as just a small sample size of his filmography, it should be clear as to why he is one of my favorites. Hell, I even really enjoyed Suicide Squad even though I seem to be alone in that train of thought. Still, there is no denying that this man’s ability to display and depict real-life street level violence is unparalleled.
Like the rest of his films, The Tax Collector puts that street level brutality at the forefront. You can’t have a film about the Mexican cartel and all of the gangs under its umbrella and NOT have it be a violent one. There is carnage in almost every scene and the ones not explicitly showing said carnage, are at least alluding to it.
At its core, The Tax Collector is a drama. It’s about family and honor, and it’s about a bad situation becoming even worse. There is so much more than that here, as well, however. This drama quickly takes turns into action and most certainly horror at the drop of a dime and is an intense ride the whole way through.
A lot of Ayer’s films focus on one or two main characters and the really bad situations they get themselves into. In End of Watch, it was Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena’s Brian and Mike who got into the heavy stuff; Harsh Times saw Christian Bale’s Jim and Freddy Rodriguez’s Mike plunged into the deep end. This time around it is Bobby Soto and Shia LaBeouf who find themselves struggling to stay afloat.
As David and Creeper, respectively, Soto and LaBeouf do a tremendous job portraying tough-as-nails gang enforcers. They are hardened men who perform violent acts on a daily basis. Yet, there is more to them on many different levels.
David’s number one priority is his family, first and foremost. Creeper has a different woman seemingly every night, but he is a deep thinker. Their on-screen conversations are often inconsequential, but there are these shreds of wisdom tossed around that are hard to ignore. “I’m into mindfullness… I wake up, focus my breathing, clear the noise in my mind, and then head into my day… we gonna kill anyone today? I have my nice shoes on.”
I don’t really know what the general consensus is on Shia LaBeouf as a performer, but I personally think he is incredible. His portrayal as Creeper in The Tax Collector is a pleasure to watch throughout the film’s 94 minutes. He is a certified killer, often shown by Ayer in short clips covered head-to-toe in blood. He also cares deeply for David and will do anything to help keep him safe, eventually leading to a very violent end.
Bobby Soto’s performance as David is just as good as LaBeouf’s, if not better. His is a very emotional one and this talented performer has no problem showing his different sides, as well. I have no problem saying that I was rooting for his character the entire time, no matter how crazy things got.
I can go on and on about the characters and the story, but if you’re here, you probably mostly care about the brutality. The Tax Collector has plenty of that to go around, too. As I’ve mentioned, this 2020 film is a drama, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the bloodiest films I’ve seen in a while.
With zero computer-aided effects, The Tax Collector is a gorefest. This is gang warfare amongst the most violent gangs in the world, on the streets of Los Angeles. The little I know of the Mexican cartel is no joke and Ayer has done a great job of showing just that. People have their faces ripped off by being dragged by a moving vehicle, heads are stomped in and their bodies skinned alive. The barbarity knows no bounds and I’m sure most, if not all, horror heads can appreciate that.
The Tax Collector at Home
This film came out of nowhere for me. As I’ve already stated, I am a huge David Ayer fan, but I don’t follow the man on social media (I don’t really use social media like that for anyone really). I am not in-the-know about every single thing he does. Because of that, The Tax Collector came out of left field.
Hopefully I can inform some people who are like me and weren’t aware of it until now. The Tax Collector will be available on DVD, Blu-ray, and UHD/BD Steelbook this Tuesday, October 6 from RLJE Films.
I was given the privilege of getting my hands on one of the UHD Steelbooks, which delivers the film in a 2160p High Definition Widescreen 1.85:1 format. It boasts a DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio track and contains English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles. The film is not rated.
In terms of special features, the home release is somewhat bare. There are only a small collection of deleted scenes available, but the steelbook I hold in my hands does feature some beautiful artwork on both the inside and the outside cover, of course.
I generally stay far far away from other’s opinions about films. It sounds silly because here I am giving you all my opinion, hoping you take the time to read it. In hope that my opinion may mean something of merit to you guys, I will say that this film is most certainly worth your time. In the little I did read about other critical response to the film, I completely disagree with everything said.
They say “there’s little depth to make you care about the characters,” but I actually cared deeply for these characters and found myself getting emotional on multiple occasions throughout. They say there is “so much mismatched content…” I actually don’t even know what the hell that is supposed to mean, frankly.
Long story a little bit shorter, I love this film. It is character-driven and violent, action-packed and emotional. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
The Tax Collector gets 5 hammer-smashed kneecaps out of 5 from yours truly.