VENDETTA

8 out of 10

Release Date: 22nd November 2013

Director: Stephen Reynolds (Interrogation / 12 Rounds 3)

Cast: Danny Dyer, Roxanne McKee, Vincent Regan, Alistair Petrie, Josef Altin, Michael Ryan, Joshua Osei, Tony Denham, Emma Samms, Alexis Rodney, Tamaryn Payne, Anna Brecon, Sam Kane, Ryan Oliva, Sam Hudson, Ben Shockley, Tracy Kirby,  Simona Roman, James Mullinger, Martin Fisher, Charlie Bond, Lucy Drive, Dani Dyer with Nick Nevern, Ricci Harnett and Bruce Payne

Writer: Stephen Reynolds

Trailer: VENDETTA

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There have been many false dawns heralding the return of celebrity punchbag Danny Dyer. The publicity for each film he appears in seems to exploit his unpopularity by trumpeting the fact that ‘this one is different / see this, Danny is back’. Except he never is. It’s another DOA turd. Never was this more apparent than with the recent Deviation which touted itself as the comeback we were all waiting for, a career defining performance in what turned out to be a laughable dog. So when approaching Vendetta, it’s quite reasonable to be sceptical but I have to let everybody who loves good British movies know that the boy is back.  This isn’t back handed praise. I wouldn’t have sat through so many Danny Dyer movies if I hated the guy’s films, its just that I’ve been looking for a film like Vendetta for a very long time. THIS is the long overdue Danny Dyer film we’ve been waiting for.

The plot sees SAS interrogator Jimmy Vickers (DANNY DYER – RUN FOR YOUR WIFE) returns from the theatre of war after the brutal murder of his parents.  What ensues is a quest to kill all those responsible. The police are on the look out for his unstoppable vigilante as are members of his own unit from back in the Middle East. Throw into the mix an uneasy reunion with his estranged wife, Morgan (ROXANNE MCKEE – GAME OF THRONES) and you’ve got yourself a decent crime thriller.

As is the case with most revenge thrillers, the model is quite repetitive but there is more meat on Vendetta‘s bones than its  competitors / inspirations like the Death Wish cycle, Harry Brown, Taken, The Crow or low budget bores like the Australian The Horseman and the Bedford-set snooze inducer Wayland’s Song. By fleshing out the characters (just enough) and giving shade to some of them, Vendetta convinces, engages and ultimately entertains. Like Harry Brown before it, it is a Daily Mail reader’s wet dream. Murderers and drug dealers live in every street and we’re all going to get mugged every day, but saying that, who cares about Vendetta‘s politics, it’s a straight up thriller, first and foremost an entertainment device. And on that level it works. Dyer has been gifted with a part were he’s been encouraged to act and punch his weight and play well within his range. The dialogue is a bit ropey at times but like I said the actors cover up the cracks by embodying their characters. The plot is tight although MILD SPOILER: I thought the ending at the docks was really stupid, but not enough to ruin or dent the film up to that point. Another couple of important plus points to note are the fantastic cinematography which gave the film a wonderful Hollywood gloss. It made a great change from the stock helicopter shots we get in these type of movies. The other plus was the vibrant and moody synth score – worthy of a (good) John Carpenter movie! So please take a bow maestro! 10373786_725037957537415_3354157182079370870_n

The decision to surround Dyer with a cast of strong supporting actors (some known to me / some unknown) was a wise decision. Good character actors like Nick Nevern (OUTPOST 2), Ricci Harnett (TURNOUTand Vincent Regan (TOP DOG) all do some of the heavy lifting further down the cast. There’s barely a weak link.  Besides Dyer, kudos goes to the young actors who played the villains of the piece: the ever up and coming Josef Altin (EASTERN PROMISES) is one to watch, as is Joshua Osei (LIFE IS JUST) and Alexis Rodney (LIFE AND LYRICS).  Veteran actor Bruce Payne (GETAWAY) from countless UK 1980s classics and the immortal Passenger 57 nearly steals the movie with a plum role as the icy head of British black ops. He needs more work (somebody rescue him from the rubber monster crap quickies that he hangs around like the plague)! The only weak link in the acting stakes was from Emma Samms (THE COLBYS), who seemed like a fish out of water as Danny Dyer‘s Mum. A lot of the tin-earred dialogue was rescued by the actors who were able to turn it into gold but she was the only one caught ‘acting’. Seems a shame to highlight her in an otherwise solid film. Back to Danny Dyer – the dialogue “I’d have bled to keep the red in the Union Jack (or something)” sounded odd and out of context in the trailer but in the body of the film this scene is electric. One or two other scenes establish that he’s been in the doldrums for too long. So welcome back and thanks to the producer Jonathan Sothcott, the director Stephen Reynolds and all involved for giving us the UK genre film we’ve been waiting for.  I look around at a lot of British movies and I think, who asked for this type of film?  For example – ‘One Chance‘? a film about a reality show TV show winner; ‘Diana a 21st Century version of the Carol Carpenter movie? The Harry Hill Movie? Fuck Me!!! Things are bad.  Just who is responsible for turning Judi Dench into a box office star to rival Arnold Schwarzenegger? It’s not only grannies that go to see UK films is it?Also on another point Vendetta is, for once,  a UK film that does not short change us by featuring a famous actor, firing a gun, cars and sky scrapers blowing up on the DVD box /poster only to find out that the famous guy is in it for 2 minutes, and the storyline is about flower sellers with no guns. In short VENDETTA delivers.

8 out of 10 – A non-supernatural tribute to THE CROW, this is the overdue Danny Dyer movie we thought we’d never see. Some foresight and faith may have saved Mr Dyer’s bacon whilst restoring my faith in the UK action film. Onwards and upwards for producers Richwater Films!  PS: More Bruce Payne, please!

Review by Britpic’s own Jimmy Vickers – Joe Pesci II aka Scummy Biscuits is below…

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “VENDETTA

  1. VENDETTA

    Matt Usher’s review…

    Danny Dyer. Is there a more divisive thespian in Britain right now? The folk in the media continue to give him a gleeful bashing every time he turns up in anything (which is fair enough in the case of films such as BASEMENT and DEVIATION) and one can’t help but think this is largely to do with his idiotic involvement with Zoo magazine a couple of years ago. So it’s difficult to find any unbiased, honest appraisals of the chap’s talents (or lack of). This will not be a Danny-bashing review, nor will it be Dyer-worship either. Here then, is the truth about VENDETTA!

    Dyer plays Jimmy Vickers (a slightly unfortunate name), a very, very tough British soldier who’s had a very bad time in Afghanistan (he’s an SAS chap – I think that’s meant to be a big plot reveal but it doesn’t come across as such). Returning to London he finds that his mum (a Mike Leigh-style turn from Emma Samms – last seen being abducted by aliens in the final episode of The Colbys before playing the same character with amnesia in Dynasty) and dad (Tony Denham – one of those actors who plays cabbies and barmen) have been horrifically murdered by some nasty drug-dealing, bank-robbing rapist thugs.

    Jimmy is unhappy about this turn of events, so he decides to take matters into his own very violent hands. Fortunately he has a pal in the police. This film’s agenda is somewhat anti-police (they are all corrupt or stupid or naïve or lazy or greedy or incompetent or irrelevant or impotent) (it seems that police investigations now go: ‘sir, can we ask you some questions?’ ‘No’ ‘Oh, goodbye then’). And yet it is only through a bit of good old-fashioned policework that Jimmy soon finds the first of the murderous scoundrels. Jimmy beats him up a bit and the treacherous oik gives up the names of his accomplices. At this point it looks like we’ve got a nice short film on our hands.

    Alas there are complications. The police (fools that they are) spend more time investigating Jimmy’s misdemeanours, so they’re soon onto him. And what’s this? Vincent Regan and some burly thugs are after him as well. Meanwhile posh people in suits are waffling on about something or other, and there are hints of subplots involving journalists and gunrunners.

    Needless to say it all ends with lots of bodies lying about, variously shot, burnt, dipped in acid and filled with cement (our Jimmy is nothing if not inventive). The film ends with three scenes of increasing insanity. The first of them deals with the actual conclusion of the story and is more than a tad improbable. The others are weird codas presumably designed to prepare us for VENDETTA 2.

    So, the verdict? VENDETTA is actually pretty good. OK, it’s deeply unpleasant, stupidly violent, panders in some regards to the Daily Mail brigade which paradoxically will be most offended by it, and has all the subtlety of a ton of bricks. But, on the other hand, it’s meant to be stupidly violent and unpleasant, and it’s meant to be vaguely offensive. It is, after all, a revenge drama, a genre not noted for thoughtfulness and subtlety (with Hamlet as an honourable exception). For the (very long) duration of the film, one must put one’s brain into a little box and simply engage the tit-for-tat instincts which famously cause so much trouble in life. Having done so, one can have great fun watching Jimmy as he dispenses his ‘necessary’ justice, and not worry too much that he is clearly off his rocker.

    Which leads us to Danny Dyer’s performance. In many of his recent films it looks like he’s been allowed to do whatever he wants, usually with dismal results (DEVIATION). This time around it looks like the director has had a firm word with Dyer and kept him on a tight rein. He doesn’t over-enunciate for once, he doesn’t stare moodily too much and almost convinces as an angel of death (much better than the last time he attempted an angel of death role in THE LAST SEVEN). During the (many) torture scenes Dyer’s performance teeters on the edge of sanity quite convincingly – in a lesser film he would have just done manic laughing and gloating, but here he walks an incredibly fine line between doing what he need to do (arguably) and enjoying it. This is certainly Dyer’s best performance in a long time – I’m not sure if it’s enough to convert any waverers, but for once he’s been well cast and delivers precisely the performance this film needs.

    The film’s big fault (aside from its extreme right-wing political agenda) is its flabbiness. There are a lot of characters and a lot of scenes which could have been successfully excised, in particular the scene with Nick Nevern as a supposedly smooth-talking arms dealer. And poor Roxanne McKee has nothing much to do other than do some sewing for Jimmy (fortunately she’s a vet). Much of the military subplot was unnecessary, and the portrayal of Jimmy’s police nemesis was unsuccessful. Alistair Petrie plays the policeman investigating Jimmy’s trail of destruction, and he isn’t helped by a script which renders the character as a sexist buffoon with a taste for lollipops and who is interested only in his own ambition. In short, he is no match for the intensely driven Jimmy. Petrie’ performance is fine, but the character is in completely the wrong film. More successful are Jimmy’s real opponents: the gang of evil scumbag yobbos. They’re all eerily plausible and it’s a relief when they’re finally dispatched (that’s really not a spoiler is it?)

    VENDETTA may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a step up for Dyer and for this type of low budget British film in general. Whereas some of his recent efforts don’t even look like movies (BASEMENT!) this is slickly done and for the most part achieves what it sets out to do. Dumb simple fun.

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