Launching itself from a slow-paced family drama into a fast-paced action thriller, Adverse is a compelling take on the revenge tale that depicts a grittier side of Los Angeles.
Thomas Nicholas is outstanding as Ethan, in a gripping portrayal of a man caring for his sixteen year old sister, Mia (Kelly Arjen). Ethan’s daily routine as a ride-share driver is quickly turned on its head when he discovers his sister is in serious debt to a crime syndicate and is in imminent danger. From the outset it is apparent that Ethan is uncomfortable with Mia’s lifestyle and her self-destructive group of friends and deadbeat boyfriend (Jake T. Austin). Ethan’s troubled past is slowly unravelled through flashbacks and his fractured relationship with Mia drives the narrative and is the only thing holding him together. Despite their disagreements, Ethan wants what is best for Mia and for her to have the opportunities that he didn’t have. When all of that is shattered, Ethan’s world is dramatically altered and what follows is a thrilling twist of events.
Excellently shot in subdued hues by DP Derrick Cohan, Adverse is Brian A. Metcalf’s fourth collaboration with Thomas Nicholas. The film is also bolstered by performances from Lou Diamond Phillips, Penelope Ann Miller, Kate Katzman, Sean Astin and Mickey Rourke as the central antagonist Kaden, the ruthless crime syndicate boss.