Act of Vengeance (1986) starring Charles Bronson, Ellen Burstyn, Wilford Brimley, Hoyt Axton, Robert Schenkkan, Ellen Barkin, Maury Chaykin, Caroline Kava directed by John Mackenzie Movie Review

Act of Vengeance (1986)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Charles Bronson in Act of Vengeance (1986)

The Mining Murders

Joseph 'Jock' Yablonski (Charles Bronson) had been involved in mining all his life going from working down them as a boy before becoming part of the miners union. But he finds himself at odds with UMWA President W. A. "Tony" Boyle (Wilford Brimley) when he doesn't think the president has the interest of the miners at heart especially after a mining disaster where Boyle would rather it just be dealt with. Deciding enough is enough Yablonski decides to run against Boyle for Presidency, a move which angers Boyle so much that he arranges for a hitman to kill Yablonski whilst also fixing the ballot so that he would win. When Yablonski challenges the election results it only leads to Boyle upping the anti when it comes to the price on Yablonski's head.

If you weren't aware "Act of Vengeance" is based on real people and a true story but it is important that you know this. I say that because that plot and the fact "Act of Vengeance" stars Charles Bronson can lead you to expect certain things, you might expect an exciting action movie with Yablonski trying to avoid being killed by going on the run. But as I said this is a movie based on real people and real events and those real events don't involve Yablonski becoming an action man.

Wilford Brimley in Act of Vengeance (1986)

Nope instead "Act of Vengeance" is all about Yablonski deciding to run for presidency and knowing that by doing so he has effectively signed his own death warrant, knowing how corrupt Boyle is. We get to see how Yablonski is encouraged by his wife to make a stand whilst we also see how corrupt and despicable Boyle is, caring more about the money and his own self importance rather than the safety of the men he is meant to be looking after. We also see the drama of the hitmen being hired and so on as we learn about their lives. Basically it is a dramatization of the events and the people involved rather than some exciting action movie.

What does that mean? Well whilst the story is being told the real focus is on the characters and in turn on the actors. That in turn means the focus is on Charles Bronson and Wilford Brimley who both attack the movie with gusto as Bronson does a fantastic job, without moustache, of playing what comes across as a politician who really cares for his people. On the opposite end you have Brimley turning up the dial to make Boyle a despicable man who loves himself and believes that as the President he is a law unto himself and can get away with anything. They are both very good performances and are what make this TV movie come to life.

What this all boils down to is that "Act of Vengeance" is a good drama which even if the true story on which it is based doesn't really interest you the performances will make it entertaining.