Let there be no confusion: this is an unarguably bad film. But it’s on the edge of being bad in a sort of delicious campy way, calling back to the kind of subpar, money laundering financed pulp one used to find for sale as dusty DVDs or videos in corner shops.
Like all great bad films, it features once A-list actors slumming it to pay off whatever debts they must have accrued in happier times when they were able to be fussier about what their agents fished out of the slush pile. In the case of Savage Justice (also known as Savage Salvation in markets less leery of Biblical language), the cast includes none other than formerly rising, now holding steady star Jack Huston (probably best known for TV’s Boardwalk Empire), and thesping legends Robert De Niro and John Malkovich. All three of them break out their best effort at southern-fried accents, and it’s not a pretty sound.
Huston does the heavy lifting playing a working-class good ol’ boy named Shelby who has got himself addicted to heroin, as has his girlfriend Ruby Red (Willa Fitzgerald). In the world of this film, drug misuse has little deleterious effects on men, but it does cause female users such as Ruby to only ever wear bikini pants and skimpy vests, especially while lolling around when high.
When the shooting up stops being fun, Shelby starts shooting down all the people involved in the trade he can access, seeking revenge. De Niro plays a sheriff tracking him down, haunted by his own demons and all that jazz. Malkovich shows up briefly at the beginning, smiling his sinister crocodile smile while shilling for cryptocurrency – appearing just long enough to lead genre-savvy viewers to expect he’ll have a crucial role in the denouement. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
• Savage Justice is released on 12 December on digital platforms.