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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Tax Collector is a mature crime drama about two men (Bobby Soto and Shia LaBeouf) who collect protection money from L.A. street gangs; they go to war when a new mob boss arrives. Violence is extremely strong, especially toward women: Characters are beaten and killed, and a woman's throat is sliced (a man bathes in her blood). You can also expect guns, shooting, bloody carnage, fighting, a severed head, explosions, violent dialogue (descriptions of torture and abuse), and more. Language is explicit and constant, with countless uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," and more. Topless women are shown briefly, characters kiss, and a married couple lies in bed together. Women are described and spoken about with a misogynist tone. Cigarette smoking is often shown, as is social drinking, and there are references to drugs and alcoholism.
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What's the story?
In THE TAX COLLECTOR, David (Bobby Soto) and his friend Creeper (Shia LaBeouf) work both for Uncle Louis (George Lopez) and for a mysterious figure known as "Wizard." They are "tax collectors" in South Los Angeles -- i.e., they make sure protection money is paid. At home, David is a loving father and husband to Alexis (Cinthya Carmona). He occasionally shows kindness, such as when he lets one man off the hook when he learns that his child has leukemia. Unfortunately, a new, evil crime boss (Jose Conejo Martin) suddenly appears on the scene, looking to take over. And David finds that his own family is threatened. In the end, he has no choice but to head for a showdown.
Is it any good?
Despite its vivid L.A. backdrop and its interesting, dedicated performances, this crime drama is both too wearily familiar and too unrelentingly vicious to really succeed. After the dull thud of his movies Suicide Squad and Bright, director David Ayer returns to the streets with The Tax Collector, bringing along LaBeouf, who worked on Ayer's excellent Fury. LaBeouf reportedly got real tattoos for the role, but unfortunately, Creeper doesn't have much to do other than act psychotic and misogynistic. That kind of detail, which also includes LaBeouf's cauliflower ears and the sign language used by Uncle Louis and David, promises a much richer movie than what we actually get.
The plot of The Tax Collector consists of ancient elements from any number of action-adventures and Westerns; there's hardly a surprise in sight. And because things feel so manufactured, the performers, who do seem to be trying, tend to be stifled. They end up slavishly serving the story, rather than emerging as living, breathing characters. Even the slo-mo showdown feels just a little too tired, except for the insane levels of blood and violence. And given that so much of that is directed toward women, the movie moves past thrills and into cringeworthy territory.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Tax Collector's violence. How strong or shocking is it? How did it make you feel? Does it seem to have a purpose?
What is misogyny? How are women treated in the movie, both verbally and visually? What message does that treatment send about women?
How are Latinx people represented in the movie? Is the movie culturally sensitive? Are there any positive role models here? Why does representation in the media matter?
What's the appeal of movies about criminals?
David believes that family is the most important thing of all. What is his relationship with his family members like? What are the similarities or differences between them and your own relationships?
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