PAINKILLER (2021) Reviews of opioid epidemic vigilante killer thriller

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‘This vigilante gives them a taste of their own medicine’
Painkiller is a 2021 American thriller about a grieving father taking vengeance on the white-collar criminals behind the opioid epidemic. As the killings mount up, he begins to reluctantly embrace his anti-hero status.

Directed by Mark Savage (Bring Him Back DeadPurgatory Road; Circus of Dread; Sensitive New Age Killer) from a screenplay co-written with Tom Parnell.

The Delirium production stars Michael Paré, Bill Oberst Jr., Alexander Pennecke and Scot Scurlock. Co-produced by Massimiliano Cerchi and Mark Savage.

Plot:
Bill Johnson (Bill Oberst Jr.) has suffered the kind of loss that no parent should ever have to; watching his daughter fall victim to the opioid epidemic, which too long went unnoticed.

Conversely, Doctor Alan Rhodes (Michael Paré), has been leading a lavish lifestyle, thanks to the profits he’s been making from his prescription business. Seeing that no one is being held accountable, Bill sets out on a campaign targeting those made rich by the suffering of so many.

Teaming up with a rogue cop, they set out to dismantle this network of doctors and pharmaceutical executives that continue to devastate families across the country…

Our review:
Bill Oberst Jr. is his usual exemplary self. He’s always watchable in any movies he appears in. The other leads are good too. The movie’s corporate pharma and doctors’ greed message is valid. Popping pills galore is a big bad business.

On the downside, the film’s delivery is (ahem) painfully unsubtle – Rhodes (Michael Paré) is a pantomime villain extraordinaire – and the talk show stuff is unnecessary. The resulting movie is hilariously overwrought although still enjoyable, especially the vigilante scenes.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA

MOVIES and MANIA rating:

Other reviews:
” …the direction is good, the action exciting, the story interesting, and the score is beyond stellar. The serious nature of the plot never gets dragged down by the more unintentionally over-the-top elements, meaning the themes remain relevant in a relatable fashion.” Film Threat [Note that this “independent” website brazenly takes payments for reviews so this may well factor into their opinions]

“If you simply want a revenge fantasy about someone executing mostly unarmed middle-aged guys who don’t fight back Painkiller should satisfy you. But if you’re expecting an action film or a thriller you’ll be seriously disappointed. It’s not only dull and preachy, it’s a major step backwards for Savage who can do, and has done much better work.” Voices from the Balcony

Release date:
In the USA, Painkiller was released On-Demand, Digital and DVD via Cinedigm on May 4, 2021.

Trailer:

Cast and characters:
Michael Paré … Alan Rhodes
Bill Oberst Jr. … Bill Johnson
Alexander Pennecke … Rip
Scot Scurlock … Strauss
Austin Janowsky … Al
Pacey Liz Walker … Maya
Tom Parnell … Doc
Scott Gaver … The Man
Tracey Eman … Granny Maude
Liz DeCoudres … Penny Chambers
Kristina Beringer … Lisa
Eve Jordan Litchfield … Lori

Working title:
Stressed to Kill: Doctor’s Orders

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