End of Loyalty Image

End of Loyalty

By Calan Panchoo | April 14, 2023

Hiroshi Katagiri is well-known as a special effects wizard, having worked for Steven Spielberg on Jurassic Park, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, and recently James Cameron and Avatar: The Way of Water. His third feature-length directorial effort, End of Loyalty, has a distinctly Tarantino-inspired vein. It sports a multitude of other inspirations as well, ranging from American buddy cop movies to Japanese gangster pictures. But despite its many muses, the film struggles to find a focused voice.

Grant (Justice Joslin), the son of a crime boss, vows revenge after his father is killed by a rival gang. He goes on a violent rampage to determine the reason for his father’s assassination. He is soon joined by Ray (Braxton Angle), a federal agent, as well as his best friend. Being from different sides of the law, the two must find a way to work together as they search for answers.

There is a lot like in End of Loyalty. Katagiri’s aesthetic eye is obvious from the beginning, as even pedestrian settings have a hyper-composed feel. Additionally, a slew of well-choreographed action scenes is strewn throughout, punctuated with little punches of humor. For example, a nameless henchman gets knocked out several times in succession with the same comically tossed handgun. There is also a kinetic, almost arcade-like feel of nostalgia to the gunfights, as though the characters exist within a video game.

“…the son of a crime boss vows revenge after his father is killed…”

However, Chris Preyor’s script is in need of a unifying vision. I mentioned Tarantino earlier — the action-thriller begins with a pair of gangsters talking about the euphemisms used when killing people. It’s a conversation that feels straight out of Reservoir Dogs. In theory, it should set the tone. However, the tone is erratic because the movie is trying to be all of its inspirations at once. The unfortunate result is a cast of clichéd characters doing clichéd things.

Grant is a grizzled gangster enforcer with an irrationally short temper. Ray is a polished and virtuous good-guy cop. The rival gang leader’s Japanese bodyguard is a stoic, ninja-esque combatant who speaks in parables. Even Grant’s daughter is an overbearingly precocious child whose every line is a glib wisecrack. It’s all a bit much when everyone is talking like they are the toughest person in the room, but none of them feel that way.

There’s a scene about halfway through where Grant and Ray — bruised and ruggedly handsome while they reload their guns — discuss why they are working together. The two leads come to no discernible conclusion. Likewise, End of Loyalty is a film with a lot of potential in terms of style and action. All the while, the director shows a clear knack for set pieces. However, without any guiding idea behind the narrative, the movie cannot make anything from its sea of inspiration.

End of Loyalty (2023)

Directed: Hiroshi Katagiri

Written: Chris Preyor

Starring: Braxton Angle, Justice Joslin, Simon Phillips, Tenley Kellogg, Michael Paré,, Vernon Wells, Sho Ikushima, etc.

Movie score: 5.5/10

End of Loyalty Image

"…a slew of well-choreographed action scenes are strewn throughout..."

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