The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
An intimidating Shia LaBeouf chews the scenery in The Tax Collector’s trailer and poster, but his minimum screen presence in the actual film makes for an underwhelming experience when expectations for the character were so high.
Director David Ayer (End of Watch, Suicide Squad) clearly has good intentions behind everything he’s doing here, but in actuality the execution is severely lacking. Something that Ayer (apart from Suicide Squad) does so well is make the world we are shoved into feel like the world we currently live in, and that continues with The Tax Collector. Stylistically, Ayer has a confused vision, with different directing styles intertwining and making an uneven film to watch from a direction standpoint. For every intimidating scene with LeBeouf’s Creeper that makes the viewer tense at the hesitancy of the character, there’s an abomination of a scene where the camera zooms in, slows down and brings a comical undertone to a serious scenario taking place.
The Tax Collector follows David, the son of a crime boss who goes around Los Angeles with his associate, Creeper, and collects the “taxes” owed by the gangs within the city. The film has a solid start displaying just what a daily route consists of for the duo, but after the initial day, the film significantly dips in quality. With that in mind, the audience is taken through a slate of estranged scenes about whom the proper “tax collector” of Los Angeles is, followed by a deplorable twist to close the film out. I didn’t despise the entirety of the film’s runtime, but as it kept pushing forward, interest began to waver, and after certain choices with several characters, I ran out of patience with this spiraling storyline.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
David (Bobby Soto) and Creeper (Shia LaBeouf) are fantastic together on screen, with their opening scenes especially being reminiscent of the relationship we got from Gyllenhaal and Peña in End of Watch. Their scenes are short, but they bring a lot to the overall tone of the feature. Sadly though, their time together is short-lived, and when David is associating with anyone but Creeper, I could care less about the character development taking place. Ayer, similar to End of Watch, brings an incredible realistic nature to his filmmaking, making even the worst actors appear as though they were pulled right off the streets of LA. However, no matter how real the characters are, their significant lack of chemistry or connection between one another makes the film drag. There’s such an inconsistency to the characters being put on display here; the villain of the tale is so extremely “evil” that he doesn’t feel from this world, almost as if he could be a rival to Chev Chelios in the Crank films because he’s so (mentally) out there.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
"...An intimidating Shia LaBeouf chews the scenery."
For the most part you can tell The Tax Collector was filmed actually out in the public, as nothing here feels like a set (apart from the closing hotel room), and that’s a beautiful thing. The costume design fully captures the characters and their personalities, especially Creeper’s suave outfit. Unfortunately throughout Ayer’s usual direction, we are ambushed by numerous slow motion shots that simulate a mistake you’d see from an amateur trying to make their film even “cooler;” obviously it doesn’t work here.
The Tax Collector (2020) | VOD
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Composer Michael Yezerski gives a wonderfully tense and thrilling score, something that stays consistent throughout the entire experience. The lyrical music choices work well in context with the tone being portrayed, making the musical element of The Tax Collector the unchallenged best attribute.
The Tax Collector brought a fantastic background performance by Shia LeBeouf, but ultimately there was nothing else worthy of the 90 minute runtime. The villain was over the top, the family dynamic was lacking emotional draw, and the key component that brought people in from the poster/trailer left the viewer wanting more because we barely got to see why he’s so feared amongst the community. I’d be all in on a prequel focusing on Creeper, but beyond that, let’s just leave this story where it is and forget it.