Ava sees Jessica Chastain shine as action star despite a flawed script

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 04: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been processed using digital filters) Jessica Chastain attends the premiere of 20th Century Fox's "Dark Phoenix" at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 04, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 04: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been processed using digital filters) Jessica Chastain attends the premiere of 20th Century Fox's "Dark Phoenix" at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 04, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images) /

Ava is a must-watch movie on Netflix for action movie fans

Ava proves to be a solid action movie with a flawed script that is elevated by the impressive cast led by Academy-award nominee Jessica Chastain.

The action-packed spy thriller Ava starring Jessica Chastain is now available on Netflix joining other solid similar titles like Close or Columbiana. While the film struggles from a less than stellar script riddled with poorly executed tropes and cliches, the performances from its ridiculously impressive cast make this worthwhile affair an outstanding choice.

The thing to remember about female-led action franchises is that they are criminally underappreciated and often receive unfair criticisms from people expecting them always to reinvent the genre. While they don’t accomplish that absurd goal, they do offer a refreshing and uniquely stylized experience every time out.

Not every movie has to be a game-changer, especially one of the action spy variety. Most of the fan base shows up for the fight scenes, action sequences, and epic stunt work. The story, while it still needs to be compelling by the genre’s standards, it doesn’t always have to be a Tenet-level game changer.

There is no denying that films like Anna, Salt, Proud Mary, Atomic Blonde, and so much more are worthy of occupying the ranks of the best the genre has to offer. From Blake Lively’s The Rythm Section to the Netflix chart-topper starring Jennifer Garner Peppermint as well as all the underrated movies of the genre in between, there are plenty of great choices, and Jessica Chastain’s Ava is one motion picture fans should absolutely not sleep on when it comes to finding something to watch on Netflix.

The film centers on Chastain’s titular character, who is a trained assassin with an extensive military background and is a recovering alcoholic with serious family issues.  While Ava struggles at certain things, she excels at taking out targets but constantly breaks the rules by inquiring with her victims as to why they believe she has been sent to kill them. This is a clear violation of protocol, which doesn’t sit well with her clients.

After a job goes wrong and she is almost killed, her estranged family, whom she just recently started to make things right with after running away eight years prior are now in danger. She must utilize her skills to stop the people that set her up and protect her family from getting hurt at the same time.

The stakes are high, the action is exceptional, and the stunt work is above average. Unfortunately, the story never quite finds its footing and feels like it’s trying to be more than just an exhilarating thrill ride. At times the narrative can drag with certain moments feeling very out of place, but thankfully there is enough well-crafted action to keep audiences involved until the very end.

The actors really deserve a lot of credit here as they do not have much to work with, but because each one of these top-notch players brings their A-Game from start to finish, they elevate what could have easily been a forgettable action flick destined for the bottom of the $3 bin at the gas station into an elite B-Movie that any action fan would revere as a triumph with a decent replay value, which is more than can be said about most cinematic endeavors of the extremely oversaturated genre.

Jessica Chastain proves her ability to portray an action powerhouse as easily as her other impressive roles, and the industry should easily have her at the top of their list for any action-packed blockbuster they have in development. Not every A-lister can make the successful transition to the hard-hitting genre of pulse-pounding thrills, but Chastain excels so well at this role, it is a surprise she isn’t the number one contender to be the new James Bond once Daniel Craig’s ends his tenure after No Time to Die.

John Malkovich and Colin Farrell look like they are having a blast playing two one-dimensional characters adding some much-needed value to the overall project. The years of these two illustrious performers playing so many similar roles has certainly paid off as the thought of their better turns resonates well enough to enhance this experience significantly.

Geena Davis and Common hold their own pretty well, but they feel somewhat shoehorned into this affair, and it may have been a better choice, in the long run, to have their roles be smaller in the film. Most of their scenes feel misplaced, like they are out of some kind of coming of age drama or romantic dramedy, which is fine in an action movie as long as it’s done in small doses, which want the case in Ava.

Huge shout out to Joan Chen, who does a stellar job with the limited screen time she had. It would have been interesting to see her take on another gangster role in a much bigger capacity. The Ava actress has excelled in almost everything she does, including the incredibly enthralling Netflix original series Marco Polo.

Director Tate Taylor keeps things within the realm of expectation when it comes to style and execution. The cinematography of veteran player Stepehn Goldblatt captures the excellent action and masterful stunt work in an eye-catching manner, enhancing the entire experience. Goldblatt’s accomplishments in Ava are complimented by editor Zach Staenberg, who keeps the story flowing well with Bear Mccreary’s exhilarating score in the background.

There are a lot of reasons to like Ava, and while the film is far from perfect, it does a great job at proving Jessica Chastain is a force to be reckoned with no matter what role she takes on, as well as a solid choice, form the genre for movie night on Netflix.

On the grading scale, I’d give Ava a B.

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