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Film Review: “Ava”

Written by: Victoria Alexander | August 31st, 2020

Film Poster: AVA
Film Poster: AVA

Don’t miss these three great fight scenes: Colin Farrell and John Malkovich, Jessica Chastain and Joan Chen, and Chastain and Farrell.

Assassins are irresistible. Do we see their work all around us as “suicides”? Or is this a conspiracy too soon to consider? 

Laws do not apply to them. Neither do the multiple soul-sucking restrictions that everyone else must follow. Imagine killing someone and just walking away.There is no blowback and no police force looking for you. Assassins never get stopped for vehicle violations or speeding, they travel all over the world with fake passports, stacks of money and always have mysterious helpers handling their reservations, luggage and making sure they have the right firearms. Best of all, they never bother with cleaning up!

Can a female, even with superior physical attributes, fight a well-muscled man? One well placed punch to the jaw would cause a person – especially a woman – to be knocked out and suffer a severe concussion. It can take anywhere from several seconds to several minutes to regain consciousness. 

Jessica Chastain joins the growing market for female assassins. My favorite is Charlize Theron as Lorraine Broughton in ATOMIC BLONDE. That was released in 2017, so it’s time to acknowledge it as a franchise and start work on a sequel. Then there is Halle Berry as Sofia in JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 –  PARABELLUM. Theron used her 5’10” stature to support her ruthless skills. And Berry knows how to express disgust and bitterness with a mere look. And loved those dogs!

Ava (Chastain) is a troubled assassin. She’s got past drug and alcohol problems, and lousy, unresolved family issues. Was Ava’s dad also an assassin? Ava holds the record on staging successful “suicides” and always making a clean getaway. She works for Duke (John Malkovich) who taught her everything she knows about killing. The only thing Ava knows is that her ‘target” did something bad. Even with the nice payday, Ava wants to know before killing her victims, ‘What did you do?”

That is none of her business and Duke’s protégé before Ava, Simon (Colin Farrell), thinks it’s time to retire Ava. Simon thinks she’s slipping and could be dangerous.

Film Image: AVA
Film Image: AVA

When her “target” in Riyadh doesn’t die according to the plan as guaranteed, and there is a big bloody mess to clean up, Duke urges to take some time off. Ava has enough money to go anywhere but decides to return home to Boston to see her mother (Geena Davis) and her sister Jude (Jess Weixler). Ava walked off one day without even saying goodbye to her devoted boyfriend Michael (Common). 

Ava has an interesting relationship with her mother, who bitches about her hair and complains about nearly everything Ava does. They have an interesting blunt conversation which informs Ava’s difficult childhood.

Well, Michael healed his wounded heart by falling in love with Jude. They have been living together for quite some time. 

When Ava is attacked during her nightly run, she knows she is being targeted. But before handling the problem of who wants her dead, Michael vanishes! Ava knows where to find him. Seems Michael isn’t so clean himself. He is  carrying an enormous gambling addiction and he owes a lot of money to Toni (Joan Chen), who runs several illegal enterprises.

As fight scenes go, Duke and Simon, Ava and Toni, and Simon and Ava, are staged not as highly choreographed CGI, but clumsy and rough. And, all three fights go on for an extended time. It’s not easy killing someone with punches and apparently being thrown through windows is not very effective. I didn’t know a body could take such a beating without a hospital stay.


Special praise for Farrell, who is always first rate and delivers here a wonderfully nuanced character.  

As films are now structured, there is never a clean ending. Just in case, there can be a possible franchise. So let’s welcome Chastain to the genre but Ava 2 is going to need to find strong players to succeed Farrell, Malkovich and Chen.


Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, and answers every email at For a complete list of Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to: Victoria Alexander contributes to Films in Review (, Film Festival Today ( and Las Vegas Informer (

One thought on “Film Review: “Ava”

  1. This is by far a great review without letting personal bias get in the way of delivering a well written review of a great movie without spoiling too much while leaving you asking yourself more questions about Ava. You have come a long way since other reviews and it makes me happy to see you making progress on becoming a proper critic. Keep up the good work and you’ll soon be setting a name for yourself as a critic (remember to always keep an open mind!).

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