The Beast

We all have bad days at work. A client pushes your buttons or a colleague isn’t pulling their weight or a vital piece of equipment is on the fritz again, wasting your time and feeding your work monster. The Beast is about a bad day at work. Some guy wakes up, probably with a positive attitude and a spring in his step, but when he gets to work, things all fall apart. He thought kidnapping a little girl would be easy, and it was at first, but boy did he kidnap the wrong dude’s daughter. And no, her dad is not Liam Neeson.

Teresa’s (Giada Gagliardi) dad is The Beast. You can call him Riva (Fabrizio Gifuni), for now. Riva is a lone wolf veteran, estranged from his family ever since he returned from Afghanistan as only a shadow where a man used to be. Haunted by his combat experience, only little Teresa still loves him whole-heartedly. So when his growly teenage son reports her missing, Riva goes BEAST MODE to find her and bring her home. The cops whose actual job it is to find Teresa aren’t too happy about his rogue status and neither is Riva’s PTSD, which is being triggered rather wildly, incapacitating him with flashbacks to his time BEING TORTURED AS A PRISONER OF WAR. So there’s that.

Riva is not exactly a man with a very particular set of skills; I mean, I’m sure he’s no slouch what with his special forces training, but he’s not super-human either, merely a dedicated man with only one goal in his mind. The fights are not slick, over-choreographed affairs, they’re messy and savage and desperate, just a dad trying to survive long enough to get to the next door, behind which he may find and save his daughter. Or not. It’s a big city with a lot of doors, and a lot of bad guys standing menacingly in front of them.

Apparently this is not an Italian remake of Taken, or at least that’s what their legal team assures us, but it sure feels like it. Gifuni is a convincing anti-hero, always stalking the next dose of his meds, never sure which is the greater threat – the guy with the knife in front of him, or the guy with the knife in his memories. Probably not quite sure which is which either. He takes a lot of punishment, but when your daughter is Taken taken, the math goes wonky, the damage inflicted to damage sustained ratio ever malleable.

I didn’t dislike this movie, it’s well set-up even if it’s a premise we’ve definitely 100% seen before in a movie called Taken. The pacing of the third act is pretty screwy, the climax anti-climactic as it comes about 30 minutes too early in the movie. Or the movie goes on 30 minutes too long afterward (and it’s only 97 minutes). Still, if you’re looking for some gritty action, that’s exactly what you’ll get, and The Beast (La Belva) is streaming right now on Netflix.

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