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May 11, 2012

Movie Review: The Aggression Scale (2012, Anchor Bay)

Directed by Steven C. Miller

Starring Ray Wise, Dana Ashbrook and Ryan Hartwig

I'm just gonna start this review by saying I absolutely loved this movie. Director Steven C. Miller dialed up the perfect combination of brutal action and suspense with The Aggression Scale. A mob boss, (Ray Wise) has a team of ruthless assassins leaving a bloody trail behind them as they search for his stolen money. One by one they are going down a list and everyone on the list is ending up a greasy stain. When they get to Bill's name they assume he will be an easy mark. And although Bill was involved in stealing the mob boss's money, what the assassins didnt count on was the fact that Bill used some the stolen money to get his mentally disturbed son Owen, (Ryan Hartwig) released from a maximum security institution, so he could come live with his family in their newly bought home. Owen's Aggression Scale test scores are 99.5 out of 100. That makes him one dangerous kid, and the hit-squad's worst nightmare. After Owens parents are murdered by the hitmen, he and his mousey, suicidal step-sister escape into the woods, and thats when the deadly cat-and-mouse game begins.

Think Home Alone meets Rambo, cause this movie is just as much fun as either of those two classics. The acting was great, Ray Wise as the mob boss was perfectly cast. The hit squad, played by Dana Ashbrook, Derek Mears and Jacob Reynolds did an acceptable job as the villainous bad-guys and I just couldnt help but be impressed Ryan Hartwig. In spite of the fact that he doesn't utter a single word throughout the entire movie, his character was one you could totally cheer for. Even the character Lauren, (Fabianne Therese) Owens step-sister, turns from a spoiled, suicidal pot-smoker to a bad-ass in her own right when the moment of truth comes for her.

The Aggression Scale is perfectly paced, and at an hour and twenty five minutes, the story filled that time-frame like a glove. There were no unnecessary side-stories or sub-plots to complicate things. Director Steven Miller kept it straight-forward and simple, which made it a very enjoyable “Root for the good guys to give the bad guys what's coming to them” movie.

The score was also top-notch, which added nicely to the atmosphere. For me, thats one on the many little things that can help turn a good movie into a great movie. One of the other things that makes a movie great for me is a satisfying finale. The Aggression Scale delivers that, and then for good measure, throws in a bonus revenge scene in at the very end. It was unexpected, and totally awesome, with a great “grind-house-esque” feel to it. I was actually on my feet cheering and clapping my hands when the credits rolled.

Pretty slim pickins as far as the extra's go though, just a “Making of” featurette. It was interesting, but looked pretty lonely sitting by itself on the Extra's Screen.

Irregardless of this minor flaw, score this one a Total Win for Anchor Bay. For action/suspense lovers, this is a must-see. And if your not a fan of this genre of movie, I'd still say give this one a try, it might just change your mind.

8 out of 10

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