Brooding in its reflection on the heart of evil and its abilities to reform into something good, Tainted stands as a timely and contemplative criminal vengeance thriller. While there’s kills that thrill in a display of gun play and savage beat down, writer/director Brent Cote creates an emotional journey of redemption for a former Neo-Nazi hitman.
In a small town in the backwoods of Ontario an everlasting grey of winter sets a gritty haze over its occupants. Now freed from a fifteen year stint for murder, Lance (Alan Van Sprang) spends his days returning to a life of punch cards, low wages and a dingy studio apartment whose only luxury is a beat up record player and a local drinking hole down the street. It’s a modicum of freedom and Lance is devoted to keeping it this way even if he still has to sleep with a gun under his bed. But when Kroso (Shawn Roberts), a local crime boss and affiliate of the Russian mob, is informed of a shift in the underworld’s political landscape, Lance’s peace is about to be shattered to call upon his violent past one last time.
The Aryan Brotherhood has made a hit on the Russians and the Russians need to hit back to defend their lives and territory. Knowing Lance’s former ties to the Brotherhood, Kroso makes Lance an offer: passport, money, and never having to fear for his life again if he can take out the local skinheads. Though Lance refuses at first, as Kroso put ‘Is it still freedom if you still have to look behind your back?’ With a chance to not only free himself but to redeem his actions of the past, Lance sets out on a path of brutal vengeance destined to leave bodies and bullet holes all over town.
Following a few extra betrayals and twists Tainted really stands out against other thrillers with not jus with it’s gritty bar rooms, bad guy meet ups and shoot outs but with the heart behind every itchy trigger finger. Lance is not only fueled by his desire for freedom but a chance to do something he never got to do in his former life, the right thing. A compelling relationship between him and a tenant down the hall named Anna (Sarah Waisglass). Never having had a father and on her own with her guitar that she strums for the local saloon, Lance fulfills an unlikely guardian role in her life as he finds himself drawn to her and her guitar. Together the two bond over old music and Lance begins to open up from his shell, together they have a warming connection of two lost souls finding each other. It’s a deep connection, though not romantic and more akin to a paternal relationship, which makes the heartstrings all that more taut when the gunfire begins.
Tainted asks a lot of deep questions about our human nature and tackles a very difficult subject for our times. Though a former Neo-Nazi, exploring Lances world takes a gritty look at the culture of violence and shows a personal struggle to recover. Throughout the movie Lance feels as if he takes one step forward only to fall two steps back into the world he was trying to escape and asks how far one must go to redeem themselves to have total freedom. And how much blood must be drawn along the way? Accented by Cote’s neo-noir cinematography and editing, Tainted is an emotional journey and one hell of a criminal vengeance thriller.