The Debt Collector is one of those movies that’s difficult to write about because there’s so little substance there worth exploring. The story follows French (Scott Adkins), a veteran and classically-trained martial artist who’s paired with Sue (Louis Mandylor) to go around and make collections for the mob — just as the title suggests.
What follows are a series of scenes where they burst into the homes of unsuspecting debtors, where they proceed to beat and bloody them until they acquire the funds they’ve been sent to acquire. After a rough-and-tumble fight scene, some snappy dialogue, and the continued banter between French and Sue, they hop into their car and head to the next locale.
That’s… that’s pretty much it. There’s a little plot thrown in about a mob boss and betrayal, but it seems more like and afterthought after a rough-cut was screened that revealed there wasn’t really a story underneath all the stunt-work and squibs.
Stuntman-turned-director Jesse V. Johnson seems to be following in the footsteps of Chad Stahelski, the stuntman-turned-director who’s helming the John Wick franchise. While the John Wick films are light on the story — the first one was entirely about him seeking revenge over the death of his puppy, The Debt Collector lacks any kind of singular motivation that made John Wick (Keanu Reeves) the kind of character you root for.
Sure, Johnson is able to compose a few decent action sequences, but there’s no cause for the audience to be invested in either of its two characters. The fact that Johnson shares screenwriting credit with co-writer Stu Small makes this even more baffling, as one would assume that, at some point, one of the two scribes would think to address this problem before the cameras started rolling.
Equally baffling is the fact that this is billed as an “action comedy,” when the latter word in that description seems to go entirely unfulfilled throughout The Debt Collector’s 90-odd minute runtime.
The fact that it’s a direct-to-video release is telling, as its hard to imagine this film finding an audience in theaters, particularly against the brutal competition that is this year’s summer movie season. One where even Solo: A Star Wars Story hasn’t been able to find the kind of audience that the Star Wars franchise is known for.
That’s not to say that The Debt Collector is inherently bad, per se, it’s just… sort of there. A serviceable, albeit not terribly engaging, action film that could’ve used a bit more time in the incubator before the cameras started rolling.
The Debt Collector is currently available for purchase on DVD and Digital today