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The Tax Collector Review

August 18, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
The Tax Collector
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The Tax Collector Review  

The Tax Collector Review

Bobby Soto– David
Cinthya Carmona– Alexis
Shia LeBeouf– Creeper
Jose Conejo Martin– Conejo
Cheyenne Rae Hernandez– Gata
George Lopez– Uncle Louis

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by David Ayer
Screenplay by David Ayer

Distributed by RLJE Films

Not Rated
Runtime– 95 minutes

Watch it here


The Tax Collector, written and directed by David Ayer and playing in theaters, Digital, and Video On Demand starting August 7th, 2020, is a fairly entertaining but morally repugnant crime movie that could have used a little more action in it. Featuring an excellent cast and a hilariously ridiculous performance by Shia LeBeouf, The Tax Collector isn’t necessarily anything you haven’t seen before, especially in the “criminals are cool” crime movie genre, but it’s got enough energy throughout to make you keep watching.

The Tax Collector stars Bobby Soto as David, a devoted family man and devout Catholic who also happens to work for a notorious LA crime lord known as Wizard. David typically works alongside Creeper (Shia LeBeouf), a devoted henchman that likes killing people, hurting people, and instilling fear in people. David and Creeper spend each day driving around Los Angeles collecting money (a “tax”) from various gangs and other criminal enterprises. It’s big business for Wizard’s operation and everyone complies. Those that don’t comply are menaced by David and Creeper and, eventually, killed by Creeper. It’s a good job for both David and Creeper as it pays well and provides for their lifestyles (David is married to Alexis, played by Cinthya Carmona, and has two kids and a big house in a nice neighborhood, and Creeper likes banging different women and whatnot).

One day, a man named Conejo (Jose Conejo Martin, listed in the credits as Conejo) shows up in town and starts making waves within the LA criminal gang world. Basically, Conejo wants to drive Wizard out and become the new top dog. When David and Creeper unexpectedly meet with Conejo and learn of this, they tell David’s uncle, Uncle Louis (George Lopez), who is essentially the boss in the “real” world (Wizard is in prison). Uncle Louis knows Conejo and figures that he can meet with the guy and make it clear that Wizard’s operation isn’t shutting down and that it will be business as usual going forward. Unfortunately for Uncle Louis and Wizard’s gang, Conejo really doesn’t give a shit about Wizard’s plans and makes his move to establish control of the LA criminal world (Conejo’s people decapitate poor Uncle Louis off screen and show his head and hands in a cooler to David).

As soon as David and Creeper realize what’s happened they try to make plans to fight back. David tries to move his family out of harm’s way and Creeper pledges to destroy every Conejo gang member that he comes across. But do they have what it takes to destroy Conejo before he gets going with his plans to take over the LA criminal world?

In between all of these big plot moments, we see David and Creeper interacting with one another and the various gangs they collect money from. They have an easy, brotherly, “best friends” relationship that’s fun to watch in action. They’re scumbags, sure, but it’s cool to hear them talk about stuff, either job related or personal. The movie also spends lots of time showing us how David tries to exist in two worlds simultaneously and works hard at succeeding in both: as a devoted husband and father who cares deeply about his family and their safety, and as a top notch criminal. The big problem for David is those two worlds don’t mesh well when circumstances force them to interact, and the shit really hits the fan when Conejo moves in and declares that everyone in Wizard’s inner circle is fair game, and that includes the families of Wizard’s people.

I’ve never been a big fan of movies or stories where the world of criminals is shown as being cool or filled with honor and shit like that because it’s all bullshit. For all of the traditions and rules and whatnot in the criminal world, the reality is the only things that really matter are money, power, and fear. That’s it. Killing people in order to achieve any of those things is always a good thing, regardless of the damage it causes to the world. That’s a terrible message. The Tax Collector doesn’t necessarily glorify any of the terrible things these criminals do, but none of the characters seem to understand just how awful they are. I really thought that David, because of his religious inclinations and love for his family, would realize at some point in the story that Wizard’s criminal world is bullshit. He doesn’t, though. Instead, David seems to be more interested in upholding all of that bullshit because he believes it’s honorable.

I mean, look at the final sequence in the movie, after David talks with Wizard. After everything that happens to him you would think David would be outraged and pissed off because of what happens to his family. You would think David would turn over a new leaf and move away from the destruction all around him. David doesn’t do that, though. David is ecstatic at the end of the movie. And that’s hard to accept. It’s why I refer to this movie as morally repugnant. It’s disturbing that David would make the final choice that he makes. It’s like he didn’t learn a goddamn thing and, again, that’s hard to accept. It’s also just awful.

Now, even with those issues, The Tax Collector is still a decent enough movie. Even if you don’t like the characters you still watch them and react to the choices they make and the situations they find themselves in. David and Creeper may be awful people, but, in the big scheme of things, it’s possible to believe that they are the least terrible, at least up against Conejo, who is just the worst person in the world. So you kind of root for David and Creeper. They are the movie’s protagonists.

The movie could use more action. The action moments that we do get are well done and reasonably exciting, but there aren’t enough of those moments. It is commendable that Ayer doesn’t flinch away from the nastiness, especially the satanic ritual sacrifice sequences that Conejo engages in. Could they have been nastier and more insane? Probably. But the nastiness that we do get is pretty good stuff.

The entire cast completely commits to their parts. Bobby Soto does a great job as David. David is annoying because he doesn’t grasp how terrible and pointless his life is and what kind of danger he’s putting his family in, but he’s still charismatic enough that you’re willing to follow him through to the end of the movie. You just wish he would start making better decisions.


Shia LeBeouf is terrific as Creeper. He goes for broke as the ultimate devoted henchman and the best friend of David. The way he walks, talks, threatens people, tells jokes, LeBeouf is completely enveloped by the part. It’s a damn shame what happens to him but, when you’re a henchman it’s bound to happen. Now, is it appropriate for LeBeouf to be playing this particular character? Probably not, but then I’d suspect that the reason he’s in the movie is because he has a name people recognize and Ayer was able to get some of his budget because of that. It doesn’t really make it right, but it happened, LeBeouf did a damn good job, and that’s ultimately what matters.

Cinthya Carmona does a fine job as David’s wife Alexis. It’s interesting how she knows exactly who her husband is and what he does and she’s ultimately okay with it. Heck, she participates in some of it. She knows what he does is dangerous and wrong but she loves him anyway. What eventually happens to her seems inevitable, but it’s still plenty sad.

Jose Conejo Martin is scary as Conejo, the hopeful new crime boss. You can sense that he’s brutal and nasty and terrible, but you never really understand just how awful he is until you see what he does to Uncle Louis (well, the aftermath of what he does to Uncle Louis). Cheyenne Rae Hernandez is even scarier as Conejo’s girlfriend/top henchperson Gata. Hernandez makes sure you know that this woman has no soul and just loves murdering her boyfriend’s enemies. Holy shit.

And George Lopez is great as Uncle Louis. This is a dramatic part for the well-known comedian and he embraces it with gusto. He is one unlikeable sonofabitch. Is it time for Lopez to do a major dramatic part in a big hooha TV show? After seeing Uncle Louis, it might be.

The Tax Collector is a pretty good low budget crime movie. The movie’s characters are reprehensible human beings and the story is morally questionable, but it’s a decent enough way to spend ninety minutes of your time. I just wish it had more action. Movies like this should have more action.

See The Tax Collector. See it, see it, see it.


So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Over 20

Explosions: Not really.

Nudity?: Yes.

Doobage: A pretty cool ominous opening theme, multiple nightmares, loose tooth pulling, food cooking, smoke alarm hooey, talk of business, pot smoking, money moving, money collection, bullet to the head, off screen body dismemberment, guy talk, torture, missing money, glass breaking, face smacking, pillow talk, martial arts training sequence, talk of STD’s, a dance montage, off screen decapitation and hand removal, attempted team building, cigar smelling, black magic hooey, full auto gang attack, pipe bomb hooey, throat slitting, human sacrifice, yelling, serious use of a hammer, head stomping, license plate changing, hole digging, a barrel full of money, a second bout of attempted team building, a very cool machine gun massacre in slow motion, sliding a guy’s face on the road while hanging him out the side of a car and half of the guy’s face comes off, forehead crossing, serious strangulation, leg stabbing, mega stabbing, head smashing with a rifle butt, shotgun hooey, a brutal hand-to-hand brawl, an accidental fire, chunk of toilet (or maybe sink) to the back of the head, a prison call, a big reveal, and a disturbing smile.

Kim Richards?: Attempted.

Gratuitous: “Love Honor Loyalty Family,” family prayer, Shia LeBeouf, Shia LeBeouf playing a Latin character, “the human body is a machine,” Shia LeBeouf eating grapes while driving, George Lopez, a brief martial arts training interlude, business being done, Shia LeBeouf talking about how he likes to kill people and thinks he’s God, George Lopez’s head and hands in a cooler, more praying, Bobby Soto saying “fuck” a lot in slow motion, black magic hooey, a big reveal, and a disturbing smile.

Best lines:”Alexis? You okay?,” “I have to clean the kitchen. What? Now?,” “I can’t believe you’re on Tinder,” “What the fuck you doing here, man? I own the fucking place. You were supposed to open an hour ago,” “Have you heard of me? I heard you were the Devil,” “Sorry about your shoe,” “Some people say yoga is Satanic,” “Are we killing anybody today? I got fucking nice shoes on,” “Yo, homie, that shit smells like ass!,” “The dress isn’t happening today. The Mexican Kardashians got here before us,” “I’m here to collect your fucking taxes,” “I’ll skin that motherfucker!,” “Hey, what’s up, Johnny Cash?,” “Hey, Creeper! I Ubered here!,” “Don’t curse me! This is your truth!,” “Everything you love is going to die real bad!,” “Daddy, why do you have a gun?,” “Blood, you can’t come here,” “We gonna get his kids!,” Where’s Mom? She’s not here right now. I’m here,” “Family is sacred,” “You’re going to die!,” “Don’t you know I have the protection of the Devil?,” “For my family, I live! For my family, I die! For my family… I kill!,” and “Forgive me.”

The final score: review Good
The 411
The Tax Collector is a decent low budget crime movie, although its cast is filled with horrendous characters and the story is morally repugnant. It’s still worth watching, though, as it’s consistently entertaining throughout its 90 minute running time. Bobby Soto and Shia LeBeouf make for a great buddy criminal team, and writer/director David Ayer clearly likes making movies like The Tax Collector. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I may not like any of these people, but I would probably watch a movie like The Tax Collector again. Probably.