By: Anthony Francis
There is nothing like a good revenge film. The sub-genre has given us many classics and gave certain actors some of their most popular films.
In perhaps the best example, Charles Bronson finally became a bankable lead actor in the U.S. with the “Death Wish” series, films based on his character becoming a vigilante due to the rape and murder of his wife and daughter. While Bronson’s Paul Kersey was very much a vigilante, his motives were based on revenge.
Lest we forget, Bronson became an international star with his portrayal of Harmonica in Sergio Leone’s masterpiece “Once Upon a Time in America”, perhaps the finest revenge film ever made.
Revenge films have always been and shall always be popular. They can be Action, Drama, Comedy, and so many things. Everyone from George C. Scott to Scott Glenn to Denzel Washington and Nicolas Cage have done good work in this most lucrative of genres while filmmakers such as Henry Hathaway, Paul Schrader, Quentin Tarantino, and both Tony and Ridley Scott have found great success with their revenge films.
Now comes the Barcelona-set “Xtreme”. A slick and exciting Action/Revenge flick that should not be missed.
Maximo, is a hitman who works for a major crime boss who cares dearly for him. The boss treats Maximo like more of a son than his own blood, Lucero.
As Maximo has decided to leave the business of violence, he agrees to one final task that his boss promises will solidify a long overdue retirement to spend more time with his young son and, hopefully moving on to a normal and peaceful existence.
Shakespearean jealousy from within his power-hungry stepbrother Lucero, brings viciousness and tragedy to Maximo’s world.
Lucero wants the family business and makes sinister moves to earn the loyalty of his father’s men. If he cannot, he will kill every one of them, including Maximo.
If Maximo will not swear a blood oath, then all shall be punished. Maximo refuses, an unimaginable tragedy strikes at the hands of Lucero and Maximo goes into hiding (along with their adopted sister played by Andrea Duro) to prepare for the takedown of Lucero’s dangerous organization and to exact on brother for his betrayal.
Teo Garcia (who also co-wrote) is quite striking as Maximo. He is a stuntman first and actor second. Garcia’s skills are present,and we watch him lay waste to the bad men with fists, blades, and guns. His action scenes were all designed and choreographed by Garcia and director Daniel Benmayor and the care and craftsmanship that went into them is to be commended. Every scene of action and violence is first rate and exciting. Benmayor goes easy on the shaky cam style of directing to allow his audience to experience every movement. It is fantastic work.
Óscar Jaenada is great as Lucero. His performance is pure psychopath, but the actor doesn’t play it one-note. We learn that his character has studied the ways of the Japanese Yakuza and uses their stylings to execute his takeover. This makes Lucero more than just a cliched nut job out for power. While that is certainly the goal of the character, Jaenada gives him a hint of a soul.
The film is edited by Peter Amundson, an editor who knows his way around an action film. See his great work on films such as 1993’s “Dragon”, 1996’s “Daylight”, 2002’s “Blade II”, and the “Vanishing Son” films with Russell Wong.
Admunson’s work for this film is like a firecracker. The sharp style he uses for the action scenes recalls the great work Freeman Davies did for many classic Walter Hill films. His work here makes the actions sequences pop.
And what action it is! Swords slice and guns blaze in a fire of blood and broken limbs with some truly inventive moments that would impress even John Wick.
Director Benmayor tips his hat to a few revenge films, and it is fun to spot them. He also wears his influences on his sleeve ever so proudly. The filmmaker is a big fan of Ridley Scott and especially Scott’s “Gladiator”. Check the name of our hero. It is a direct homage.
“Xtreme” (“Xtremo” in its original Spanish language) does not want to change the game. It exists as what it is, an unapologetic revenge tale with some truly kick-ass action.
For fans of this kind of film who are tired of the cookie-cutter Hollywood take, this is the film for you. It is a complete blast.