‘End of Loyalty’ Review: An Amateur Attempt at Filmmaking
The action genre can be one of the most exciting in cinema. This genre allows us to experience things we would never actually do in real life, and it can define heroes and villains in ways no other genre can. We are still talking about Rambo and John McClane when it is time to talk about the genre, and now John Wick films and The Raid films have kept pushing what can be done on the screen to new heights. An action movie can be exciting, dramatic, epic, and fun. It is not a surprise that some of the most successful movies of all time are action films. End of Loyalty is a new addition to the genre.
End of Loyalty is a film directed by Hiroshi Katagiri, who also penned the script alongside Chris Preyor. The movie stars Justice Joslin, Braxton Angle, Simon Phillips, Tenley Kellogg, and Vernon Wells. The film tells the story of two best friends living on the opposite side of the law. One is the heir to a crime family, while the other is a by the federal rule agent. When the balance of power within the mafia starts tilting to one side, the pair will take justice into their own hands to protect what is most precious to them.
It is not easy to talk badly about a movie. Making a movie is not easy; it is actually quite hard. The entire process consumes a lot of time and effort and can generate physical and mental exhaustion. So, it is hard to talk about when a movie doesn’t work even on the most basic level. No one sets themselves out to make a bad movie, but a combination of factors results just in that. End of Loyalty feels like a passion project made by people who truly love film. However, every single aspect of the movie finds itself on a basic amateur level, and it cannot escape from it.
So, what is the problem with End of Loyalty? It would be an exaggeration to say everything is wrong with this picture, but not by much. You can already feel something is wrong from the moment the film starts. We are thrown into a situation with no setup at all, and the attempts at creating that setup and establishing the context feel clunky and inorganic. The opening scene just tells you everything that is wrong with the film. It is a mini capsule of bad execution that will then be extended over the rest of the film.
First, we can talk about the script and the story in general. The movie doesn’t really know how to enter or exit a scene. Sometimes it just abruptly puts characters in situations without context and lets them go crazy with dialogue that feels completely unnatural; no one talks like this. Characters overextend their dialogues to the point where they can probably become monologues. There are also strange attempts at comedy, and it makes you wonder what kind of film the filmmakers thought they were doing. Maybe it is a Marvel influence of combining comedy with action, but it doesn’t work here.
The entire plot is unoriginal and filled with so many clichés that you would think this was written by an AI searching the internet. This leads directly to the pretty bad acting. Joslin, Angle, and Phillips are our main characters, and they all force their characters into overdrive. Every single scene feels forced when it comes to intensity. Most of the dialogue can be summarized as people screaming at each other and talking about their motivations, but nothing really happens. Characters are not being constructed. It all seems like a parody of a real film.
This brings us to the fact that this is an action film. Katagari has mostly worked as a member of the visual effects department on several films, including Avatar: The Way of Water, Pacific Rim, and many more. Katagari seems to be a fantastic sculptor, but when it comes to knowing how to set an action scene, he might be a bit behind. The action choreography is laughable, and every attempt at an action sequence makes the film look like the project of a film student during the first semester.
It would be naive to ask for the same quality of action as in a John Wick or The Raid film, but there is definitely something missing here. There is no impact at all during the fights and less during the shootouts. The visual effects are also quite laughable, and the CGI blood used in the film looks more like an Instagram filter than anything else. The editing is also quite terrible; it takes any emotion out of the scenes and seems very schizophrenic, especially during conversations.
It gives no pleasure to talk about a movie like this. However, this is a movie that should be put on a shelf and examined as an attempt at filmmaking, not as something that is getting ready to be released to the public. From that point of view, the film feels like a fun attempt at making a serious movie, but every scene, transition, performance, and line of dialogue should be analyzed to see what is wrong with it. It can be a fun watch to know what not to do, but not much else.