With a title like Vengeance, you may think this is a modern take on the Charles Bronson Death Wish revenge type movie, if that was the case turn off because this is a very different and satirical take on the way media can distort and manipulate stories to give the listener, or viewer what they think they want and how people are never what they first seem to be.
It starts with two guys at a party in New York, having a very shallow discussion on relationships and life in general, they seem to end every statement they make with “100%” and seem willing to justify every word.
Then one of the guys Ben gets a phone call saying his girlfriend, Abiline is dead. But what amazes him about the lady in question is he only had a short relationship with her and can hardly remember details.
He decides to go to Texas for the funeral to pay his respects and maybe sniff out a story for his upcoming podcast. When he arrives he is confronted by Abiline’s brother Ty who is convinced it was murder and not a drug overdose as stated. After a few awkward and funny moments with Abeline’s family, he digs deeper into the mystery but does not like what he finds. And when a record producer becomes part of the mystery things take a darker turn.
While it starts as a city-slicker-type movie, a metropolitan guy adjusting to life in rural Texas it soon becomes apparent that the mystery is much more complex than he first thought. He records every conversation thinking it will give him insight into their way of life, very selfish and obnoxious. Later he starts to see the benefit of family ties and begins to fit in a bit better. The dialogue is well-written and funny at times, a few swipes at the opioid addiction and gun control laws in America are in the mix, but it comes across as a little bit over-ambitious.
The star BJ Novak who is also a first-time director and writer of the movie gets the best out of his cast. He is best known in America for co-starring in The Office (US) TV series and The Newsroom and he has won 2 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
What defines the characters in this film are their contradictions. Local drug dealer Sancholo turns out to be sensitive and kind-hearted. Abilene’s little sister Paris is far more intelligent than Ben. Hick record producer Quentin Sellers is the smartest and wisest man in the county. (A great and important cameo by Ashton Kutcher).
While the theme of vengeance is always in the background this is more a study of the way people in today’s society put material things and status above the most important thing of all, family and friends. The ending was unexpected and while not a total success, the offbeat storyline will keep you entertained for the full running time.
The Blu-ray released in the UK has a sturdy 1080P transfer, good and solid. The audio also has a good mix with some nice use of surround effects. The extras are just a trailer which is disappointing.
FILM – 7 PICTURE – 8 AUDIO – 7.5 EXTRAS – 1