Movies From the Black Lagoon: Angel of Death

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Angel of Death - 2009, unrated
By Tom Doty

A hit woman wages war against the mob to appease the ghost of one of her victims in this quirky ,and effective ,yarn that mixes supernatural elements with action movie set pieces.
This movie messes with you from the start with an ordinary opening sequence that doesn't hint at how weird things are going to get. It starts with our heroine, Eve, embarking on her latest assignment while training a new recruit. The trainee has an annoying habit of asking questions about their target and questioning whether he deserves to die. Eve makes it clear that she doesn't care and we are off to the races ,plot wise, as the job proceeds to go entirely wrong.
Eve manages to close out the job but walks into a couple of bodyguards as they step off an elevator and quickly determine that she's not there to deliver a pizza. Everyone whips out guns and Eve goes into work mode . She decimates the pair but makes to costly errors. First she accidentally kills her target's young daughter and then she compounds the error by using her head to stop a knife attack. She winds up with four inches of steel in her brain and a miraculous change in attitude.
Pretty soon she is caring about what she does for a living but that's nothing compared to the changes she undergoes when ghost- girl begins giving her orders. Pretty soon Zoe is a human weapon again but now she is pointed at the gangster clan that ordered the killing of the young lady's father. What follows is a lot of gratuitous violence as she begins taking down everybody connected to the hit. The campaign brings nothing but suffering to everyone in her orbit . By the time the credits roll she has exacted enough vengeance for a Charles Bronson movie but her private life lies in ruins. The ghost appears to go away but there's not much left in her life though that could be a good thing as she is definitely in need of a new beginning.
This is primo action fare and a lion's share of the credit must go to a tight script from Ed Brubaker. This is the same guy who made his bones killing off Captain America in Marvel Comics last year.. He gets a reprieve from me for two reasons.
1. He has written this movie.
2. It turned out that Captain America was alive the whole time but just in a bad place due to an evil scheme that came close to actually killing him. Alright that may sound lame but it was a well-executed story . Besides how many times have D.C. Comics claimed that Superman and Batman were dead in storylines that just saw them coming back in different costumes?
Anyway, Brubaker fashions a sturdy tale of redemption that lends itself to the low budget action arena. The story was also good enough to attract a talented cast. Zoe Bell leads the pack as Eve. It's a perfect role for her and allows her to show what she picked up as a stuntwoman before going into acting. Most of her time was spent doubling Lucy Lawless on the "Xena" series so it's appropriate that Lawless turns up here in a small but pivotal role. Bell handles all of the action brilliantly. She proves that she can take a punch as well as she can land one in several expertly choreographed melees. The film gets a lot of mileage out of her screen presence while Brubaker's script offers a few inside jokes for fans of 'Xena." Fans will get a kick out of seeing Ted Raimi lose his head to a stray bullet. He toiled away on "Xena" for years as the underappreciated 'Joxer' and received an undeserved amount of hate mail. Then there is the clever scene where Lawless gets lit up by thugs who mistake her for Bell(very funny as Bell made a living as Xena's stunt double).
This one will please action junkies of all stripes but fans of "Xena," which finally hit DVD two months ago, will get an extra kick out of it.
Best Line: "If you're gonna get stabbed in the head, you picked the right spot."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.