Life’s journey is rife with injustice. Too often, it seems, some get away with murder while countless others die before their time. Who amongst us—usually in the heat of the moment—have not plotted the immediate demise of our oppressors? A few, brief vengeful moments temporarily help to ease the pain, even as we delight in giving those who so deserve it a taste of their own medicine.
Meet Anna Carter (Kristine Blackport). She’s a woman on a mission. With an agenda known only to her, she travels the country and—one by one—rids it of child molesters, abusers and poisoners (via corporate chemical spills). The executive director of a huge charitable foundation is armed with the quiet certainty that no judge will ever convict her—even if caught. With less than three months left on the planet (an inoperable malignant brain tumour) she’ll never survive long enough to attend a preliminary hearing. Murder on: revenge is mine!
As incongruous as the premise sounds (particularly from the medical angle—anyone who has witnessed the ravages of brain cancer knows that the physical toll during the final stages is so debilitating that our intrepid vigilante would have been sidelined long before the first “monster” tasted the receiving end of unbridled terror) this film is well worth seeing.
Director James Seale and writer Robert Gosnell have done a masterful job in readily suspending our disbelief by their deft use of pace, tone and style.
The opening sequence is a brilliant gem of narrative technique. With virtually no back-story (save and except for those who may have seen the trailer) Anna efficiently tracks, confronts and despatches her initial target with a cold-blooded professionalism (e.g., the gun has no serial number) that might cause veteran hit men to cast an envious if nervous glance of admiration (even as they hightail it in the opposite direction—you never know who might be next!).
With a successful first assassination under her belt, Anna/Seale/Gosnell close that sequence with several, successive takes. Each one adds more to our understanding of what preceded, building the character of the doomed beauty who’s last wish is to personally settle the scores of those whose punishment—according to the orphan’s idea of justice—was not nearly commensurate with their wicked deeds.
Through best friend Chloe (Elizabeth Rose), company pilot Chuck (Andrew Porter), sudden love-interest Michael (Bill LeVasseur) and most especially multi-millionaire boss (and one-time saviour) Jonathan (John Hutton), more of Anna’s inner being is gradually revealed. Incredibly, none of those in her circle realize just how desperate their friend/co-worker/lover/employee is (“You don’t seem to be yourself lately,” offers Jonathan) or the bloody therapy she’s self-administering, knowing her last breath is nigh.
Yet how many of us have been taken totally by surprise when someone dear to our hearts acts in a completely incomprehensible way? This great truth is frequently underscored in the subtext.
And so the vigilante goes about her business (with subtle—an Old Masters painting of a woman sweeping the floor; not-so-subtle—a bronze of blind justice slips into frame as a corrupt CEO is shot dead—images reinforcing the action) with nary a single moment of suspicion from the authorities (when an off-duty detective—Jeff Nicholson—finally cottons on, his reaction fits the creative team’s broader purpose like a brain-spattered glove) and plot points that should tax all credibility (several barrages of gunshots draw no one to the crime scenes). Anna’s juncture of circumstance trumps the lot.
Finally, her condition takes its inevitable course (the numerous seizures horrifically trigger hallucinations of the expired victims-of-vengeance in yet another once-removed metaphor that underscores the absolute personal terror of unstoppable death by disease).
None of this would have been possible without the considerable talents, physique and intuitive sense of timing that Blackport (who also supervised the wonderful music tracks that feature a real string quartet delivering a spirited performance of the opening movement of Mozart’s K. 387) brings to the role of Anna. More’s the pity that a sequel ought to be a medical impossibility, but with so many evil bastards still walking the planet … JWR