Revenge is a tale as old as time. A classic theme of genre films, it is usually a crime of passion and this feature is not the exception. In this subversion, however, we are spared the morality tale. Our anti-hero protagonist is not motivated by a sense of justice or keeping its rage and violence reserved for the targets of his retribution. He’s definitely unleashing hell on earth with no remorse.
Bull (2021) is written and directed by Paul Andrew Williams. Bull (Neil Maskell) was an enforcer for a gang. He pissed off the wrong people and was apparently taken care of, but somehow he’s back and wants revenge. Although revenge genre films are a dime a dozen, there’s always some warped sense of justice in its execution. That’s not found here. What we have a pure brutality and any disregard for the innocent is gone out the window, to the point of Bull becoming the literal boogie man. This is told very much like a slasher horror film.
There’s nothing that Bull wants except suffering and death, and the film doesn’t pretend that he’s willing to spare a soul. Sensibilities are not respected, nothing is sacred what we see in screen is a relentless impulse at creating harm and pain. There’s very little humanity left in this thug and although anti-heroes will usually exhibit some sense of decency, there’s none to be found in this character. As outstanding as Neil Maskell’s performance as the brutal Bull is, I also must mention David Hayman’s performance as mobster boss Norm. Don’t expect either of these characters to give the other a chance to a fair fight. There’s a reveal that will provide an explanation that might satisfy some, but I found myself thinking it wasn’t really required. It still does the job.
Highly recommended for lovers of revenge films. The subversion here is that there isn’t a justifiable excuse. If you’ve ever wondered what a non-heroic character’s rampage would feel like, this is precisely it. The deeper we go the more we learn that any humanity has been left behind and we’re not really supposed to empathize with out protagonist. Very much worth a watch, and I’d love to have the chance at a second viewing.
That will do for now.