Saturday, 14 June 2014



Well, it's not the worst film Danny Dyer has appeared in, but merely being less rubbish than Basement or Doghouse (or, saints preserve us, Run For Your Wife) is scarcely something to be proud of: it's not unlike like a football team losing eight-one rather than their usual eight-nil. At the very least it looks decent, and it has some moments of satisfying nastiness, but at its heart it's really a piece of sub-Statham thickear thuggery that even The Man Himself would have thought twice about ten years ago.

Essentially Vendetta is an origins story attempting to set up an urban vigilante franchise (the film ends with the caption "Jimmy Vickers Will Return", which is listed on the IMDb but frankly seems about as likely as Dyer's promised Run For Your Wife sequel, at least given Dyer's commitments to EastEnders). Danny Dyer is Jimmy Vickers, British Army Super Elite Special Forces Hard Bastard whose parents were brutally murdered by a repulsive gang of Sarf London lowlifes; with the occasional help of a sympathetic copper he tracks the culprits down and exacts due (and imaginative) punishment. Matters are complicated by the Army wanting their man back, while the leading police officer who did nothing about the original murders sees Vickers' capture as a career opportunity, regardless of the cost....

The genius of the original Death Wish is that the Charles Bronson character isn't ex-Marines or a retired Navy SEAL, but an architect; making the hero of this kind of film a tough military type means he's capable of casually killing the yobbos right from the start. It saves screen time, and provides a snappy poster tagline like "They messed with the wrong guy!", but frankly it's more interesting when the heroes are architects or office workers or plumbers. (See also Anything For Her and its US remake The Next Three Days, a prison break film where the hero is a schoolteacher and has to learn about the criminal underworld from scratch.)

Vendetta is all very empty, very sweary, unashamedly pro-vigilante (even moreso than Outlaw and Straightheads, which at least had characters unsure how far they wanted to go) and occasionally descending to shouty rhetoric. Sure it's nice to see Bruce Payne as Scary Government Man, and Dynasty's Emma Samms has a couple of early scenes as Dyer's mum. But Danny Dyer is as charmless as ever; the only reason you're on his side is because his antagonists are such despicable scum. It's not that you like him, you just hate him less: they're rapists, murderers and drug dealers, so Dyer is the good guy more or less by default. That's really not enough and, for all the righteously cheery violence and nice photography, it ends up as a low-rent and charisma-free London reboot of The Punisher. Still better than Basement though.


No comments: