Adverse (2021)

Director-Writer Brian Metcalf brings with him a strong crime drama that he hands over to a wonderfully seasoned cast of character actors. While a movie like “Adverse” could have stumbled right out of the gate, it manages to only improve by the time the movie has closed and ends as a sharp crime thriller. It’s a bold mix of “Taxi Driver,” and “Drive,” with a nigh unrecognizable Thomas Ian Nicholas staring.

Anxiously trying to keep his head above water, shared ride driver Ethan is desperately trying to keep his teenage sister out of trouble and drugs. When she comes in to debt with a drug dealer, she suddenly goes missing. Learning she’s died, Ethan goes on the hunt for crime boss Kaden, taking a job in his organization and systematically picking off people closely associated with him.

The fuel behind “Adverse” is Thomas Ian Nicholas and his stellar lead performance. As Ethan he’s a man literally at the end of his rope that does everything to keep his life from sinking. This becomes tough as his sister fights him every step of the way, allowing for his more violent urges to rise to the surface. Once Mia is ultimately the victim of the vicious crime, he submits himself to the darker urges, which makes him a pure force of vengeance. The movie isn’t primarily centered on revenge, but more on the willingness to do whatever it takes for justification and self-redemption.

Nicholas is complimented by Mickey Rourke’s surprisingly competent supporting performance as a mob boss who utilizes Ethan’s anger and rage as a means of picking off his rivals. Director-writer Metcalf also packs in a great respective, supporting cast including Sean Astin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Samm Levine and so many more. The plot Ethan ultimately enacts is compelling and it ends up devolving in to a darker, desolate tale that doesn’t spark much hope when all is said and done. Metcalf side steps flair in favor of more grounded realism; even spending more time on the fall out of Ethan’s inability to save Mia.

It amounts to an entertaining, absolutely engaging neo-noir revenge thriller. Especially with Nicholas committing to his flawed protagonist every single step of the way.

In Limited Theaters and now available on VOD.