You know what you are in for when you see a film that has Frank Grillo yet doesn’t show much of him. Black Lotus is another of those action thrillers where you have to convince yourself that you are watching an action thriller rather than it convincing you. We have a very common plot with a very common protagonist. A solitary reaper who has served in the army and has nowhere to go, an underworld ganglord who abducts and exports women, and a kidnapped little girl. I’m sure that you didn’t expect much from the film, but you must have missed more of the antagonist, especially when you know what Grillo is capable of. And at least a good old-fashioned final fight between the protagonist and the antagonist would have made for a good ending. When such a fight doesn’t happen, the catharsis isn’t effective at all. Be that as it may, we have to make do with what we have, so here’s more on Black Lotus.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘Black Lotus’?
It’s been a long time since Matteo lost his best friend and team leader, John, during a hostage situation. He finally visits John’s house and meets his wife Helene and their daughter Angie, who is also Matteo’s goddaughter. Helene is glad to see Matteo, although she hasn’t forgiven him for not coming to John’s funeral. But she understands why. Days pass, and Angie and Matteo get along very well. Meanwhile, Angie’s stepfather, Paul, loses $15 million from one of his client’s accounts. As fate would have it, the client is none other than Gabriel Saban, an organized crime boss. When Paul fails to give Gabriel his money back, Gabriel has Angie abducted. Interpol agents Shira and Fischer have been tracking Gabriel’s illegal shipments for a long time, but they have to hurry before Gabriel harms Angie or sends her away to a different country. For that, they need to come up with a proper plan. But Matteo doesn’t have time for a plan. He needs to rescue Angie because not only does he love her but also because he promised John. After pulling the truth out of Paul about his discreet client Gabriel, Matteo makes his way to Gabriel and, endures numerous stab wounds and a bullet, still manages to kill his men and him, and brings Angie home.
What Is Black Lotus?
Black Lotus is the tattoo on Matteo’s right arm. It is a lotus under a grenade. The words, “Remember Death,” carry a lot of significance. They were soldiers first, fighting for their country, and dying for it was the greatest sacrifice. In other words, to remember death is to remember those who died. But with John gone, it reminded Matteo of his friendship with John. It is what makes him finally get back to John’s family, i.e., to Helene and Angie. It was his sense of regret and perhaps even shame at not being able to save John that made him get away from John’s family in the first place. As Helene mentions, Matteo didn’t even come to John’s funeral. However, it was the sense of loss that he realized he shared with Helene that must have brought him back to her. As soon as he arrives, he realizes that it is important to give himself a chance. Meanwhile, we know that he owes Helene and Angie because he promised John that he would protect them. This is what drives him to find Angie as well. So we can say that the grenade (“black”) symbolizes the dark side of him that he wants to hide, the pain, rage, and remorse, whereas the “lotus” symbolizes the side of him that is likable, loving, and caring. The grenade and lotus together constitute Matteo’s conscience. But the words are what is keeping him from moving on from John’s death. And ironically, it is John’s daughter, Angie, who helps him do that.
‘Black Lotus’ Ending Explained – Does Matteo Save Angie?
Paul has been killed by Lo. Matteo finally arrives at the construction site to hand over the money to Gabriel’s men, but he blows up their car after realizing that they don’t have Angie. After arriving at the club where Gabriel is and a hand-to-hand fight with Gabriel’s hired assassin Lo and his right-hand man Ber, Matteo catches up to Gabriel and kills him before he can escape with Angie. Black Lotus ends with Angie and Helene having a good time in their backyard while Matteo is on his way to another place. Matteo has finally found peace and replaces “Remember Death” with “Remember to die, remember to live.” While the first half was already there, the second half is a result of Angie’s affection. She taught him the importance of life and love at a time when he thought he had lost everything. So now, even though he has left, he knows that he has people who love him and are waiting for his return to a place that he can easily call home. This alone is enough for him. He has made peace with himself, and there’s no looking back.
Black Lotus isn’t a complicated story, and the symbolism gives it a second layer. So we may find nothing new in it, but we don’t hate it. It’s another cliché addition to Frank Grillo’s indie list. It has a message and makes for a watchable feat. There isn’t much to say about the acting, which is passable. Rico Verhoeven does his bit as Matteo, who is more like a Jack-Reacher kind of guy, huge and scary to look at yet immensely capable of love and care. But we are left wanting more from his character. Frank Grillo, as Gabriel, doesn’t get much to do in the film, and it’s a huge miss for us, especially when we have seen what he is capable of in “Copshop” and even “Little Dixie.” Overall, it’s a one-time watch, but you will probably end up craving more, so go for “Reacher” on Amazon Prime once you’re done with this one.
Black Lotus is a 2023 action thriller film directed by Todor Chapkanov.