The movie, which is written and directed by Suicide Squad’s David Ayer, follows LaBeouf and Bobby Soto as two enforcers for a crime lord who run into trouble when an old rival reappears.
Critics have slammed the film for perpetuating negative stereotypes of Latino people, with The Los Angeles Times writer Carlos Aguilar saying: “One of the most atrocious viewing experiences of the year, The Tax Collector relies on a trite visual language built on obvious flashbacks and bland imagery that match the unimaginatively dreadful writing where every Latino in sight is a gangster."
Jeannette Catsoulis, for The New York Times, described the film as a “generic gangland banger” with a “madly illogical plot”. She adds that LaBeouf did his best given the circumstances.
Variety’s Peter Debruge pulled no punches, writing that the movie is “bloody, barely coherent and about as fun as having your face dragged across asphalt from a moving SUV”.
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn called the film “a slog of vulgar threats and violent outbursts”, adding that it trades “substance for anger until the credits bring some measure of peace”.
The Tax Collector has been controversial in the lead up to its release. Ayer was forced to defend LaBeouf’s role earlier this year after it was suggested he was playing a character of Latin-American descent.
However, Ayer has said that while LaBeouf’s character is influenced by Latino culture, the actor is in fact playing a white man.
Ayer’s 2012 police thriller End of Watch, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, was also controversial. It was condemned by some critics for its depiction of almost exclusively black and Latino criminals.