A Simple Crime Story: Our Review of ‘Tainted’

Posted in Movies, VOD/iTunes/DigitalDownload by - June 15, 2020
A Simple Crime Story: Our Review of ‘Tainted’

Writer/director Brent Cote’s crime thriller Tainted is a tense little movie. Populated by a cast of mostly unknown (to me, anyway) Canadian actors – and the great John Rhys-Davies – the film managed to make me care about its protagonist Lance (Alan Van Sprang), despite references to the character’s extremely ugly history.

Set in an unnamed, small, wintery American town (though shot in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario), Tainted follows Lance, who has recently been released from prison after a 15-year sentence, and is now trying to become legitimate. His ties to the Russian Mafia and Aryan Brotherhood however, eventually bring him an offer that he can’t refuse. He’s tasked by Gregor (John Ralston), a local drug kingpin, to kill members of the nearby white supremacists, a job that will give him the money and falsified documents that he needs to start over somewhere far away. Further complicating the situation is Lance’s burgeoning relationship with his neighbour Anna (Sara Waisglass), a relationship that is refreshingly left ambiguous as to whether it is romantic, platonic, or even a father/daughter dynamic.

The performances in the film are all rather strong. Van Sprang’s Lance is a pretty cliché character: former bad boy trying to go legit, who can still be badass when he needs to, but has a heart of gold, but they pulled him back in, and he doesn’t talk a lot. We’ve seen this character so many times. But Van Sprang makes it work with a subtlety that absolutely connected for me. 

I really liked Sara Waisglass as Lance’s funny and somewhat acerbic neighbour, and assuming that’s actually the actress doing the singing at the nightclub, she’s got a wonderful voice. John Rhys-Davies can always be counted upon to turn in a solid performance, and he does so here. That written, his Russian accent is a little shaky at times, and he’s only in maybe three scenes. 

Finally, John Ralston’s Gregor was the highlight of the performances for me. His (presumably) Finnish accent felt solid, I liked the character’s dynamic with his wife Adalina (Lina Roessler), as well as his calm, but lethal demeanour. Ralston brings a quiet cool to the film that absolutely works.

Tainted takes a less-is-more mentality that gels with its seemingly meager budget. It doesn’t rely on big action sequences that it can’t afford, but keeps its action contained, and purely story-based, rather than action for action’s sake. That said, many of the fight sequences in here are stunted and poorly choreographed, looking more like a high school play than a film.

I will say that I feel like the film pulled its punches a little bit towards the end. It sets up certain things where I found myself thinking “if they stick to this, it would be a ballsy move”. I didn’t imagine they would, and in some cases they didn’t, and I found that a little frustrating. Further, the ending of the movie I saw coming a mile away. It’s telegraphed a little heavily (and unnecessarily), and I was disappointed that it didn’t end in a surprising way. 

Overall though, I quite enjoyed Tainted, despite its flaws and odd, 90’s action movie title. The film is simple (not in a dumb way, just in a streamlined way), tense, and well acted. I definitely think it’s worth checking out.

This post was written by
Comments are closed.