There is a plot to AVENGEMENT but it's altogether a little too mundane to highlight in much detail but the gist is that Adkins is an ex-boxer who gets himself into a spot of bother with local kingpin Craig Fairbrass (always nice to see the square-jawed one on screen) and ends up in the shovel and pick but comes out looking for bones to grind to make his bread. There's no elaborate heist, no convoluted plans, it all feels working-class. Homely, even. The action happens in your local pub, not a Wall Street penthouse. It happens in underpasses, not in elaborate villas on the Mexi-Cali border. Imagine Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrells meets Ken Loach. Kinda.
So, then, if the plot is a little rote what is it exactly that seperates what appears - from the outside anyway- to be just another British gangster piece peppered with flamboyant slang and grotesque claret-spilling? Well, mostly it's Adkins. With his gold-plated chompers, his scarred-up face and shaved head, let alone the catastrophe he wrecks on his victims, he has to work hard to get our sympathies on-side, but that's exactly what he does.
Keeping it's feet squarely on the ground by making AVENGEMENT feel home-grown it allows all the mayhem and the subsequent heart-string tuggy stuff seem more visceral, not least of all when it comes to Adkins growing thespian dexterity. Lumping all the credit on success squarely on Adkins doesn't give Johnson his dues though. Between his frightfully efficient penmanship of the script and his adept hand at building an action sequence he keeps things rattling along at quite the clip. Indeed, even though AVENGEMENT clocks in a super-lean 85-minutess it feels shorter still. More than that, however, Johnson knows that velocity alone does not a good movie make and he wisely buys time for Adkins to knead the dough of remorse and regret allowing the film to slow down and rise again when it's time to crack skulls. And before you read it again, yes, that is a bakery-themed metaphor.
All in all the ingredients are present, one or two efforts more in the calibre of AVENGEMENT and with any luck it'll throw Adkins and Johnson into the limelight, which is exactly where they should be. Now, Hollywood, stop messing around and sort it out.