"The Acid Baby," the media dub him when his sociopathic father douses him with battery acid, ravaging half his face. But then little Joe gets lucky. He's adopted by Will and Mary Trona, who nurture, love, and salvage him. Though the emotional and physical scars are there to stay, Joe has become a young man of promise. Predictably shy about his face, Silent Joe is a bit more understated than most, but he's smart, competent, and eager to follow in the footsteps of Will, who was a cop for 20 years before widening his horizons to become a rough-and-tumble politico in California's plush Orange County, a man with powerful friends and dangerous enemies. Though he depends on the adopted son who's become a cop himself, Will has his own penchant for playing each hand close to the vest. And one ominous night, when heavy money is disbursed to enigmatic figures and Will seems less than his confident self, Joe is filled with premonitory unrest. Events prove him right when Will stumbles into an ambush and is gunned down. Joe takes out two of the shooters but knows that the real killers are elsewhere, protected by money and influence. He knows as well—and soon everyone does—that he won't rest until he smokes them out.
For all his taciturnity, Joe makes an eloquent and persuasive action hero. His story could have been pared down without harm, but, still, this is another highly professional score from a savvy veteran (Red Light, 2000, etc.).