Slow, inept, illogical and incoherent, Silencer represents an embarrassing late-career blemish on the career of Danny Trejo.
I must confess that beyond professional obligation, the only thing that persuaded me to watch Silencer was the presence of former UFC light-heavyweights Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, whose real-life rivalry was almost single-handedly responsible for the popularity boom of mixed martial arts in general and the UFC specifically during the mid-2000s. They fought twice, with Liddell winning decisively both times, and they’re somewhat implausibly scheduled to fight for a third time later this year. Imagine my disappointment, then, that they don’t even share a scene in Silencer, which is a morally-bankrupt contract killer thriller that contains nothing but stuff you’ve seen before presented even more lazily than usual.
Johnny Messner plays Frank, a former Marine sharpshooter who went berserk in the Middle East and starting hitting the bottle, and at some point either before or after his military service spent time both in prison and as a gloomy pissed-up Punisher known colloquially as “the Silencer” by the Cartel-affiliated Las Cruces mobsters who discuss him in hushed, reverential tones and employ him for long-range revenge jobs. One such job is the avenging of Danny Trejo’s little girl, who was killed in a hit-and-run. Frank, who has a garage and a pretty girlfriend (Nikki Leigh) with a cute daughter, for some reason agrees to do this and then decides not to, thus earning the ire of Danny – his character has a name, but it’s basically just Danny Trejo – and his henchman.
One of those henchmen is played by Chuck Liddell, who is offensive without being entirely terrible, whereas Tito Ortiz plays Frank’s Marine buddy, who is terrible without being entirely offensive. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Either way there are some played-out bar brawls, visits to strip-clubs, shootouts and fistfights and such, none of which look good and all of which look cheap, with the entirety of the budget having apparently been spent on the vaguely authentic-looking Middle Eastern opening.
Timothy Woodward Jr. directs from a screenplay by Sean Mick that is terrible enough to constitute as parody if only it were funny enough to qualify – which it isn’t. Indeed Silencer is aggressively humourless, offering skin-deep presentations of veterans’ affairs and alcoholism as if they’re profound examinations of the human condition, and confusing thoughtlessly unpleasant attitudes and exchanges with mature storytelling and tough-guy grit. It’s an embarrassing bit of work, really, and nobody involved is nearly silent enough.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.