Filmmaker Brent Cote’s crime drama Tainted is as far from a happily-ever-after story as one can imagine. Lacking any respite from its claustrophobic setting and (mostly) irredeemable characters, it’s a study of how violence taints a person, spurring more violence, which creates a never-ending cesspool of nihilism. Despite the occasional misstep, I applaud Cote for having the courage of his convictions and bringing his grim tale to its logical conclusion.
An ex-con with ties to both the Russian mafia and the Aryan brotherhood, Lance (Alan Van Sprang) attempts to lead a quiet life in a middle-of-nowhere town that seems to be perpetually immersed in a frosty gloom. He befriends his neighbor, struggling musician Anna (Sara Waisglass), and even becomes a sort of father figure to her, urging Anna to pursue her dreams. Alas, he’s been tainted by violence, and it seeps into his life once again. Or has he always been anticipating it? Perhaps even eagerly?
“…the local Finnish crime lord… turns to Lance, his top dog, to assist him with one last job.”
Those are the questions posed to Lance at one crucial point by the local Finnish crime lord, Gregor (John Ralston), who runs a successful bakery with his wife, Adalina (Lina Roessler). When Gregor’s imposing Russian boss, Vladimir (John Rhys-Davies), orders him to resolve a mess involving an assassination by Nazis, Gregor turns to Lance, his top dog, to assist him with one last job. “This should please you,” Vladimir intones to Gregor, referring to Lance. “Your pet, free at last.”
It doesn’t please Gregor. Lance even less so. Lance’s dark history with the Russians is dredged up but, if he takes care of the Nazis, they are willing to forgive and forget. He consequently embarks on a mission to “kill them, kill them all” – an order Gregor’s terrified wife overhears him give over the phone. Lance gets the job done, yet a witness surfaces. Now Gregor’s goons are after Lance and Anna, while Vladimir is closing in on Gregor and Adalina.
"…a great calling card for its skilled filmmaker."