The thirst for gold has long been a force of evil in cinema, and the latest action piece from stuntman turned director Jesse V Johnson falls under its glittering spell, interweaving vicious greed with the wreckages of war. Set during the second world war, Hell Hath No Fury revolves around a coveted sack of stolen Nazi gold, its location known only to SS general Von Bruckner (Daniel Bernhardt) and his French lover Marie (Nina Bergman).
As the war rapidly marches towards its conclusion, the once radiant Marie is punished by her compatriots for consorting with the enemy. With her hair chopped off and a swastika marked on her forehead in red lipstick, Marie cuts a Joan of Arc-like figure; it will soon be revealed that her relationship with Von Bruckner is not what it seems. Rescued from her ordeal by a ragtag group of American soldiers, Marie finds the price of freedom dangling by a thread, as she is ordered to lead her saviours to the buried treasure.
By ingeniously setting much of the ensuing violence in Marie’s family cemetery, the film lends an earthy grittiness to its small-scale spectacle. Here, the air smells of death, as bullets whiz over graves while blood and dirt fuse into one grimy whole. Johnson’s skill for visual rhythm falters somewhat during the larger set pieces, but Bergman’s fierce, commanding presence proves to be the emotional anchor that elevates the grindhouse flavour to a bleak parable on the destructive power of greed. The decision to portray American soldiers not as heroes but rather as fallible, predatory beings is also an interesting subversion that suggests, when one is faced with the basest of desires, righteous ideology carries little weight.
• Hell Hath No Fury is available on digital platforms on 16 May.