Review | ‘The Tax Collector’ was Taxing to Watch, Costing Time You’ll Never Get Back

David Ayer’s The Tax Collector is an original piece added to Ayer’s polarizing filmography. The downfall of this film is Ayer was attempting to write from an experience he never experienced. Since he is not Latino, the stereotypes were poorly written and it is borderline offensive to the Hispanic community.

It is hard to explain but from the opening credits of The Tax Collector, something felt was off from the very beginning. The first 10 minutes of a film are super important, including the opening title sequence, and nothing in that important time frame grabbed my attention at all. The way scenes were assembled, written, and edited were quite messy and incoherent as far as storytelling goes.

The Acting

Shia LaBeouf in David Ayer's 'The Tax Collector' was the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak movie.
Credit: Justin Lubin SMPSP

Shia LaBeouf was the saving grace, in the supporting role as ‘Creeper’. His presence alone made the movie bearable. The characters were also at surface value and it didn’t go past what was currently on screen. There was no depth to these characters and it seemed lifeless for the rest of the cast, apart from Shia LaBeouf and George Lopez, who plays ‘Uncle Louis’.

The pacing of The Tax Collector was molasses slow. In the movie, we meet David (played by Bobby Soto) who was an uninteresting and basic character. He is a family man on one side of life, and someone who works as a gangland tax collector for high ranking Los Angeles gang members on the other.

Regretfully, there was a chasm of emptiness to Soto that made his character bland and boring. It wasn’t a strong enough performance to carry the entire film, especially since Shia LaBeouf’s character was so menacing. Soto’s character was more of background noise in any scene with minimal dialogue.

Also, for a film that depicts gang violence, the majority of the film offers only words instead of menacing actions to show the community — much less, the audience — what they were capable of doing to others. If you called LaBeouf’s character ‘The Devil’ in those streets, then why wasn’t more hell shown in the movie?

The writing

Shia LaBeouf and Bobby Soto in 'The Tax Collector'
Yeah. We don’t get it either.

Throughout The Tax Collector, there are plenty of conversations about collecting money from random characters who just enter and exit the script, without any reason. The movie was also ripe with dropped storylines making the plot difficult to follow.

As someone who loves a movie-watching experience, it is hard to sit through a film that has lost your interest in the first act with the way. The way this movie was filmed, I lost interest shortly after the first scene.

Admittedly, I enjoy Ayer’s previous films. I like his style, but for some reason The Tax Collector just didn’t agree with me. I commend David Ayer for always creating original content and using amazing scores and soundtracks. Nonetheless, The Tax Collector is such a weak film. I expected so much more, given the excitement from the trailer and creator.

The Tax Collector is a film that has too much empty dialogue and not enough action to warrant the status of David and Creeper on the streets. The connection of the characters were webbed to the point that none of the script made sense.

The characters were not developed enough to showcase their strengths in the film. The editing is what caused majority of my confusion because it was all over the place and I couldn’t settle in to any of the scenes because of how fast paced everything was.

the watching

The only ‘fire’ this movie gives up is through the amount of cigarettes smoked in the film

If I’m being honest, I stopped trying to make sense of what was happening on screen within the first 10 minutes. It was so incredibly hard to sit through because it was completely underwhelming.

If it weren’t for Shia LaBeouf, I probably would have stayed away from this film entirely. It is also pretty upsetting they plastered his name all over the place to sell the movie and then they barely used him (or that real tattoo he got for only one scene). It was just frustrating sitting through another Ayer movie that wasn’t strong because I do like his style. The whole film felt lifeless, pointless, and it was a complete waste of time. 


All Images Courtesy: Cedar Park Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures

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