Vendetta full movie review - Not convincing, compelling, intriguing, exciting or cathartic
"Vendetta" never feels real. It opens with a car "chase" that looks more like a product placement. The police procedures don't seem authentic.
The detective's home looks like something he could never afford and the back yard doesn't seem to belong to the rest of the property. A criminal who supposedly is involved in all manner of nefarious activities is set free when one key witness disappears. The prison looks like an abandoned prison with brand new weights in the exercise yard. There is a bright new humidor that sometimes holds cigars and sometimes holds something else. Even the fight scenes, which are usually strong points in WWE films, aren't convincing.
It has a few bright spots, including interesting performances by Michael Eklund as the warden and Matthew MacCaull as a guard. The cinematography is pretty good with decent lighting and steady shots that look like the camera had actually been locked down on a tripod or other support mechanism. There are a couple of nicely executed time-lapse shots. Make-up effects were convincing.
Dean Cain has 139 credits on IMDb, but I've only seen a few of his films. He held his own in dramatic scenes playing opposite Denzel Washington in "Out of Time." But he was in much better shape then and had a convincing role. With a more capable director at the helm, a better screenplay and better action choreography, I might believe that the 2003 Cain could hold his own in a fight against Paul Wight.
We've seen movies about characters who break into prison one way or another to confront an adversary, including "A Law Abiding Citizen," "Face/Off" and "Escape Plan." For such plots to work, the protagonist must have some expectation of eventually escaping or using his incarceration as an alibi. Here, the plot makes the protagonist unsympathetic and fatalistic.
The biggest problem with this film lies in the motivation of the characters. For the story to work, there needs to be a lot of history between the detective and the villain. The villain needs a strong motive to target the detective's family and the attack needs to be particularly loathsome. The plot also needs to make sense. Danvers is a detective. Abbott is locked up with murderers and other violent criminals. Danvers could more easily destroy evidence or persuade a key witness to recant testimony to induce one of the inmates to murder Abbott. Danvers doesn't seem driven by extraordinary circumstances.
None of the motivations, big or small, make much sense. When Danvers learns there is an intruder in his home, he races there and calls his partner instead of sending uniformed officers. Joel pulls a dramatic U-turn and races to the prison to attend to something that could wait until morning. Police need a warrant to arrest somebody, unless they actually witness them commit a crime. Nobody can simply tell a SWAT team to arrest somebody for some crime committed months or years previously.
It's difficult to make revenge plots sympathetic. The protagonist has to have a strong sense of commitment to justice and feel justice has been thwarted, but the movie fails to do this. The protagonist is unsympathetic and uncommunicative. His plan isn't clever. He takes a blunt force approach, but doesn't have unique skills. Along the way, he engages in confrontations with others who had nothing to do with his original motive. We don't see character development. The movie lacks any sort of moral.
Very little seemed convincing. Nothing seemed original, exciting, suspenseful or cathartic.