To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure of how to start this off, which is something that this review and Unchained seem to have in common. So I suppose I’ll start with the synopsis. Written and directed by Raphaello, the film starts off with Aella (Mair Mulroney) job hunting in a city. This opening scene is also the credits and lasts for over three minutes – three minutes of Aella walking around a town in slow-motion, which looks like a music video from the early 2000s. Not a good way to start off a film.
After failing to find a job, she finds an ad for an open audition. With little acting experience, Aella surprisingly lands her audition. She excitingly walks out of her audition, surprised and relieved, but it doesn’t last long as she is knocked out and kidnapped. Aella wakes up chained down and having no clue of what happened or where she is. However, her fighting skills are quickly put to the test as she is forced to fight another woman to see how she measures up. Aella then realizes that she is in an underground fight ring full of women who have all been through the same thing. She and the others plan to overthrow the authority and escape.
“…[Aella] realizes that she is in an underground fight ring…”
I did not want to put too much thought into the opening credits, but it was hard not to when it felt so long. Once that passed, I still found myself looking to see how much runtime was left as Unchained drags in every way possible. It was not that it did not have enough action. It actually had a lot of fight scenes, just not great ones — more on that in a bit. What makes the story feel so padded are the one-dimensional characters and overly simple plot. The very cartoonish villain, Warden Georgia (Larry L. Andrews), is not even complex enough to even hate. If anything, Warden Georgia is ridiculous. There are some “twists,” but not anything you won’t see coming. There is really no shock value, even though certain plot points were likely meant to be ghastly.
Going back to the fight scenes: they were decent, but the score and soundtrack accompanying them are questionable. It felt like the mood of the music did not match what I was looking at on-screen. This happened during every single fight. Ironically, key scenes in which the movie probably should have had background music, it was nowhere to be found. As a result, the whole film is just confusing, not because I did not know what was going on (the plot is straightforward), but because I found myself questioning what the story was trying to say.
One positive note in the movie is seeing wrestler Taya Valkyrie aka Kira Hennigan, in a key role. But even this is something that only wrestling fans would get a kick out of because you probably wouldn’t recognize her if you are not a fan. Unchained proves that sometimes simple is not always better, and its lacking of layers (all the characters are one-dimensional) and bland fights hurt the tone the filmmaker is going for.
"…the fight scenes...were decent..."