Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul stars in this white-knuckle thriller about a father and his out of control teenage son set against the high-risk world of motocross. Obsessed with heavy metal and seething with rebellious anger, 13-year-old Jacob (Josh Wiggins) finds release in the exhilarating world of motocross, but his increasingly reckless behavior is threatening to spin out of control. It's up to his hard-drinking father, Hollis (Aaron Paul) to get him back on track before he does something he can't take back.
Retribution, more commonly known as Hellion, is a brilliant independent film that gives a real and honest look at middle-class life and how one action can turn everything upside-down. It is full of emotion, and that is why I give it a much-deserved four stars.
The film follows the lives of a recently widower - Hollis, played by Aaron Paul - and his two sons, Jacob (13) and Wes (10). None of them are dealing well, and while Hollis numbs his pain with alcohol and leaves for days at a time, Jacob is running amok with his friends ‘the crew’ and diving into the rough world of motocross. Their aunt grows understandably worried with the young boy’s lack of supervision, and when CPS takes Wes, Hollis and Jacob are forced to confront their past behaviour, lest their family be further broken.
Most independent films are known for their technique and story experimentation, and Retribution is no different. Director Kat Candler - who also wrote the beautiful script - implemented engaging cinematography and camera movements that gave a real, and sometimes rather gritty, feel. Some might not like the occasional shaky movements, but it does help to create the atmosphere.
Aaron Paul has rightfully become a much-acclaimed actor. His work on Breaking Bad was amazing, and it is great to see him continuing on his career after the show has ended. Some people might watch it purely for him, but they will end up walking away having witnessed a brilliant film. Josh Wiggins (who played Jacob Wilson) is also a great little actor. He has not been in much - this was his first feature film - but he has shown he will have a big future in the industry. Like Cranston was to Paul in Breaking Bad, Paul will most likely be an acting role-model for Wiggins.
The story itself, while not an entirely new theme, succeeds in looking and feeling fresh and new, and you do not want to miss a bit of it. The story of the middle-class struggle reminds me of No Place Like Home (1989). This family is not the bottom of society, yet they are also not the privileged few. They are the ones most forgotten, and it is happening in homes all around the world.
Kat Candler is something not commonly seen in Hollywood - a successful female writer and director. This is what I aspire to be, and though she does not have an extensive film resume, this film alone shows her talent and she is sure to make many more great films.
The film has received mixed to positive reviews. Some praise it for its characters, acting (especially Wiggins), and story; while others critique it, claiming the emotion was too forced, and the writing was lacking. It has, however, done quite well in the independent film circuit, so they are doing something right.
Retribution (Hellion) is a great film. It had a small release, but managed a big impact. Others should take note.