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Movie Reviews

‘There Are No Saints’ review: Revenge thriller is a brutal throwback

Too brutal and violent?

There Are No Saints is a capable B movie that shows its age. The story follows a former hitman named Nieto Niente (Jose Maria Yazpik) who wants to turn his life around. When his son is kidnapped, he is forced to revisit the past he wants to leave behind. This path of violence and brutality that follows is as much about the future as it is the past. 

Even when this movie was made a decade ago, the premise was a well-worn one. It does have a stronger pedigree than similar films, however. Screenwriter Paul Schrader is known for a number of films, including Martin Scorsese classics Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. In many ways, There Are No Saints is reminiscent of them. The adrenaline filled story focuses on its male characters while all the women are objects of desire. 

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This is not an indictment against There Are No Saints. It is more about Schrader’s writing style. As his collaborations with Scorsese have proved, it is one that can lead to great work. That being said, the amount of violence against the female characters is noticeable. 

There is no shortage of gore to be found. This is to be expected from a revenge thriller, but there is still enough blood in There Are No Saints to make some turn away. As grisly as the action can get, it never seems over the top. The bone breaking fist fights and shootouts have a grounded feel to them. 

Yazpik carries There Are No Saints as the hitman who just wants to move on with his life. He is hopeful about what the future may hold while also being resigned to what cannot be avoided. There are some missteps along the way – Niente is able to move on too quickly with his love life – but he stands apart from the other characters. 

The question becomes, does the film do enough to stand out from similar entries in the genre? More often than not, the answer only seems to be “yes” when it comes to shock value. There is a nihilistic quality to There Are No Saints that will impress those who are into that kind of stuff, but most will just see a extra savage tale of vengeance.

There Are No Saints comes to theaters, digital, and on demand May 27

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