Adverse Review: Neo-Noir Crime Tale Finds Unlikely Redemption

Adverse, the crime neo-noir film, comes from director and writer Brian A. Metcalf about a rideshare driver Ethan (Thomas Ian Nicholas), who finds himself reluctantly pulled into the criminal underworld thanks to his distant, drug-addicted sister Mia (Kelly Arjen). Barely able to handle his own life, Ethan finds himself woefully inept at dealing with trying to help as the addiction fuels her downward spiral. During his ridesharing shift, Ethan meets a mysterious stranger Kayden (Mickey Rourke), and gives him a ride to his destination, not knowing his shady background.

Adverse: Director Brian Metcalf on His Personal Experience Behind Film
Mickey Rourke as Kaden and Thomas Ian Nicholas as Ethan in Adverse (2021). Image courtesy of Lionsgate

How Nicholas and Rourke Shine in Adverse

Much of the film blends Ethan searching for any kind of normal to lean on his life as he struggles to find balance. Nicholas has a raw organic intensity from within as almost nothing he does throughout the film worked in his favor. He has to deal with job performance issues from his ridesharing company and not have any foothold knowing how deep his underage sister is with her addiction and those she associates with. Nicholas and Rourke's performances largely guide the film. While the bulk of the film is focused on the chaos of Ethan's life and how Nicholas deals with it, he also shows off his action chops at the climactic final action sequence. Rourke does so much with so little, making the most of the space he's given, which demonstrates his excessive talent as a character actor. He shows so much intensity despite his deceptively frail nature.

Adverse: Director Brian Metcalf on His Personal Experience Behind Film
Courtesy of Lionsgate

The other performances fit, given what they're asked to do largely as one-note exposition. Aside from Lou Diamond Phillips' Dr. Cruz and Jake T. Austin as Lars, the other name actors like Penelope Ann Miller, Matt Ryan, and Sean Astin feel a little wasted here given their talents. Whether if it's the script or the performances, Kate Katzman felt like a half-baked love interest for Ethan as Chloe and I felt awkward in certain scenes Arjen was involved in, especially at the end.

Adverse is a serviceable film for Lionsgate anchored by Nicholas and Rourke. Metcalf, who also appears in the film, shows consistent pacing and lets his talent shine. It's far from perfect, but it's compelling enough to check out if you're into modern neo-noir indie crime thrillers. The film is currently in theatres, digital, on-demand, and DVD.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.