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Psychological thriller 'Agenda: Payback' not for the squeamish

Psychological thriller 'Agenda: Payback' not for the squeamish
Eric Balfour in the movie "Agenda: Payback." (Level 33)

A haunted screenwriter cooks up an elaborate plan for revenge, catharsis and redemption in “Agenda: Payback,” a middling psychological thriller anchored by a pair of strong lead performances.

Peter Farrell (Eric Balfour, also a producer here) believes his life was ruined by the machinations of Steve Walsh (Sean Patrick Flanery), a brash wheeler-dealer who failed to provide the promised financing for a movie of Peter’s screenplay. The disappointment sent Peter on a downward spiral that included alcoholism, the accidental death of his daughter and the end of his marriage — and he will not go quietly.

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Peter’s payback: to kidnap the slippery, cavalier Steve, hold him hostage in a remote cabin, and essentially charge admission to others Steve has wronged so they can exact their own brand of vengeance. Brutal, not-for-the-squeamish scenes of reprisal ensue involving a gangster type (Nick Stevenson), a politician (Kenneth Wayne Bradley), Steve’s ex-girlfriend (Mary Skaggs) and several others.

Peter, of course, takes his own whacks at score-settling, though the tables will turn — and turn again — before the film’s last grave is dug.

Although director Giorgio Serafini keeps the action apace in what’s largely a one-location setting (the movie was shot in Texas), Garry Charles’ script at times lacks clarity and credibility, as well as sufficient back story about the showy Steve. Still, Flanery and Balfour keep us watching.

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‘Agenda: Payback’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; on VOD, Feb. 27

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