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Bull

Year: 2021
Production Co: Signature Entertainment
Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Writer: Paul Andrew Williams
Cast: Neil Maskell, David Hayman

There's only so much you can do with revenge stories except try to go to extremes. The two most common choices are cartoony violence or gritty realism, and Paul Andrew Williams has come closer to the latter than most directors given star casts and multimillion dollar budgets manage.

Bull (Neil Maskell) is a shortish, stocky bloke with a thousand yard stare that would unnerve a bronze statue. We meet him as he begins a mission of vengeance, brutally killing three people it's obvious know who he is in rapid succession and hinting at a number of others he's gunning for, making you wonder why he has it in for them.

I can't remember how many times or where in the story we see flashbacks to his former life with them, but Bull was an enforcer in his father in law Norm's (David Hayman, as fearsome in his own way as Bull is) crime family syndicate. One particular scene shows you how he operates when they go to lean on a local butcher for an extortion deal. When the hapless man doesn't want to cave in to Norm's quiet threats, Bull grabs a knife and savagely hacks the man's fingers off.

Back in the present, we're left wondering why Norm and his goons, his daughter Gemma (Bull's ex, with whom he has a young son) are so jumpy at the prospect of Bull coming back to get them, and it seems there's more than just revenge they're frightened of.

In one pivotal scene, Norm goes to see Bull's elderly mum, as sweet as pie on the surface but certain she knows who's killing them all in her son's name. In the most menacing moment in the film, Norm calmly tells her she'll tell him what he wants to know or he'll have to cut her.

We gradually learn more about why everyone's so freaked out and why Bull is on such a quest of bloodlust. His violent ways were effective for business but put everyone on edge, and when Gemma intended to leave him thanks to her affair with another gang member, Norm has no choice but to side with his daughter. When Bull refuses to give in and wants custody of his son, the family decide to deal with the increasingly unhinged son in law the only way they know how.

We don't understand why Bull being around again is such a mystery to everyone until right at the end, and the final act rug pull that explains it comes so far out of left field it should frankly be ridiculous.

It worked fine enough for me, but even if it does detract somewhat from the rest of the experience for you, you've watched such a well made revenge thriller up until that point it's perfectly forgivable even if you consider it silly.

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