English actor and martial artist Scott Adkins combines raw physical power and everyman charm in ways that can be tricky for filmmakers to showcase properly. His new movie, “The Debt Collector,” isn’t great, but it’s an ideal vehicle for Adkins, who gets to spend almost the entire film cracking skulls or chatting with a mate.
Adkins plays French, a gym owner who gets so far behind on his bills that he’s forced to take a job as a mob enforcer. He’s paired with veteran goon Sue (Louis Mandylor), who schools him on which of their “appointments” will likely turn violent and which merely involve terrifying unprepared L.A. yuppies into paying what they owe. Writer-director Jesse V. Johnson keeps the setup simple before pivoting to the film’s plot.
French and Sue are hired by one of their boss’ untrustworthy associates, who asks them to track down somebody who maybe doesn’t deserve to be hassled. The story is slim and uninvolving. “The Debt Collector” is better when it’s staying in a Quentin Tarantino/“Pulp Fiction” vein, following two bruisers as they cruise through ironically sunny suburbs and office parks, beating up pasty losers.
Johnson tries too hard to make all his mayhem meaningful, to minimal effect. Still, this picture should entertain Adkins’ growing base of fans, who ought to appreciate that the star gets more freedom than usual to be delightful as well as dangerous.