7 November 2023

Pick of the Flicks: The Collective

| Rama Gaind
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The Collective aims at a highly sophisticated human trafficking ring backed by a network of untouchable billionaires. Photo: Supplied.

Director: Tom DeNucci, Defiant Screen Entertainment

Do righteous assassins really exist? The Collective charts the story of just such a group of people who take aim at a human trafficking ring backed by a network of billionaires who appear to be untouchable.

A young recruit to a mysterious agency of assassins finds himself going rogue on his first assignment, tracking down a dangerous group of traffickers. Sam Alexander is employed as a member of The Collective, an organisation that operates to get things done, working apart from government bureaucracy.

For this mission, the group has no choice but to trust rookie assassin Alexander (Lucas Till, Son of the South, Monster Trucks, MacGyver), who is eager to prove that he is a worthy member.

However, the leader, Liam (Don Johnson, Knives Out, Django Unchained) initially assigns Sam to a desk job. However, Sam is prepared for any contingency because what he lacks in experience he makes up for in know-how, determination and a strong aptitude to ad-lib in the most precarious circumstances.

Liam has to send Sam to do this job because no one knows him and he is the master of disguise. Before he goes into the field, he has to meet with Hugo (Tyrese Gibson, Fast X, Morbius), who initially treats him with suspicion. Their interactions are intense as details of The Collective’s existence become clear.

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Liam and Hugo are former CIA operatives who have turned rogue vigilantes. They started up the group because they got sick of ignoring the “root of the problem … and have conducted countless operations, including toppling governments”.

Hugo elaborates: “Our targets think they are above the law. So, we speak for the innocent; the judge, jury and executioner.”

The CIA has a list of enemies they consider unpunishable, people like sociopath Miro Lindell (Paul Ben-Victor, The Irishman, Grudge Match, The Banker).

However, the target is Christopher Neely (Michael Zuccocla, Witnesses, Vault, Agent Toby Barks), who is being held captive by Miro. Neely is an analyst who has leaked information about billionaires buying elections. Miro holds him hostage and plans to sell the whistleblower to the highest bidder for more than $50 million.

Even though Neely has angered a lot of people, he is the key to taking down the untouchables. Tracking him down is not going to be easy, as Miro’s location keeps changing.

Although the newest recruit does not have a military background, any CIA experience and no special ops training, he thrives on creative ideas. Sam is eager to go out in the field and do some damage to the bad guys.

After getting briefed by Hugo about Miro and Neely, Sam understands the urgency of the situation. Neely has upset a lot of wealthy, evil billionaires who would buy him at an auction, no matter what price they had to pay. The trouble is nobody knows the time and place of the sale, until Sam finds a way.

He immediately plunges into the criminal underbelly, endangering the lives of everybody in The Collective.

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As Daisy (Ruby Rose, The Meg, John Wick Chapter 2) is the general manager of the human trafficking organisation and the film’s villain.

The decent star cast does a good job, particularly Lucas Till, who quickly becomes aware of the dark side of the world’s reality, understanding how outwardly some people are not that respectable after all.

The film, directed by Tom DeNucci (Johnny & Clyde) and penned by Matt Rogers (The Survivalist) and Jason James (Entanglement), takes a while to gain momentum, but when the action happens first impressions of tedious unevenness and mediocrity are laid to rest.

The Collective launches on Digital and DVD on 8 November.

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