Sporting short blond hair, red nails and red lipstick, the latter of which she rushes to put on while driving (yeah, there's no way a woman wrote this), a woman collects a fancy businessman from an airport in France. After exchanging some words in French, they switch to English as he realises she's American. He flirts, she goes along with it. Then she gets in the back seat with the man, and shoots him, blood splattering on her cheek. This is sexy, this is brilliant, screenwriter Matthew Newton ('Queen of the Damned') and director Tate Taylor ('The Help', 'The Girl on the Train') are no doubt thinking to themselves. In truth, to borrow from the French used at the start of 'Ava', how blasé.
Flying to on demand rather than holding out for a cinema release already makes you wince at the prospects of 'Ava'. And yeah, it's about as poor as you feared. Jessica Chastain plays the titular assassin for hire who's excellent at her job but criticised for communicating with victims (trying to find out what bad thing they did to warrant being killed) before taking them out. She also has addiction problems, which means we'll be getting an AA meeting about mid-way through the film in which she confesses some family trauma.
Her handler is John Malkovich, who shows up at their first meeting in lumberjack shirt and dungarees, fishing. Her relationship with her sister is tumultuous and her mom (played by Geena Davis, so that's nice) is in hospital. Colin Farrell is there too with little to do other than being mad at Ava.
There's an opening credit montage contextualising Ava's background, among numerous other clichés. A port-a-loo with a backdoor leads into a murky building, with a cards den at the top floor. How quaint. Ava turns up in various disguises speaking in various languages, her accents heavy and disingenuous. One recalls Chastain's surreal turn in 'Dark Phoenix', which is not a complimentary comparison for an actress whose probable one dud performance was that one.
Still the viewer will find it impossible to blame the whole affair on Chastain. After all so many other factors are working against the feature, most notably the script. It leans into all the clichés without any self awareness and just comes across as entirely lazy. It’s a bafflingly boring movie, which you could tap out watching at any point, not caring what happens or who lives or dies. There’s also a completely last minute side plot which involves rescuing the gambler Ava and her sister are in love with, its sole purpose seeming to be to incorporate a night club shootout scene robbed from 'John Wick'. See the aforementioned description - lazy.
'Ava' is streaming on Netflix now.