Vanquish

At the Movies Blog

Morgan Freeman, sitting down on the job.

When we started this movie, I thought my wife was going to bug the sh** out of me. You see, the opening credits started, and as the names of actors appeared on screen, we saw various newspapers showing what a hero cop Morgan Freeman’s character Damon was. Yet the credits went on and on, angering my wife more and more. I didn’t time it, but it was probably around 10 minutes of a set up, and as each newspaper showed up on the screen, she’d have another comment about “When are these credits ever going to end?”

We find out Damon ends up in a wheelchair after a drug bust or something, and it’s an intriguing set-up. Sometimes watching someone run things from a wheelchair adds a bit of excitement, knowing they’re a bit more stuck in their situation. There was James Stewart in Rear Window; Raymond Burr in Ironside; and the evil Blofeld in the James Bond films.

When Damon goes to confession, we find out he’s actually a crooked cop. That might explain how someone on a cop’s salary (and whatever settlement he got for the injury), could afford a mansion that looked like something Jeff Bezos would live in. During the confession, he tells the father he’s sinned (I think), but also that he wants to “get back in the game.” He says he wants to do this because he has a caretaker that he wants to help out. Well, that’s mighty nice of him. Except that when he offers to help Victoria (Ruby Rose, the genderfluid actress from Orange is the New Black and John Wick), It was perhaps the dumbest scene I’ve ever seen on screen. She and her daughter (Juju Journey Brener) are cooking dinner for Damon, and he calls her into the living room. He explains that all she has to do is make a few pick-ups, and he’ll set her up.  Apparently this will cover the cost of the expensive medical procedure that her daughter needs. Victoria turns him down, saying she’s done with that life (she has a past as a Russian drug courier). While they are having this conversation, Damon pulls up a computer screen to show her daughter is locked in a room. Apparently, he had her kidnapped while she was in the kitchen, all without the girl screaming or Victoria hearing anything. We laughed for about two minutes at the concept of how that could have possibly gone down; like, were Damon’s goons hiding in the pantry, or what?

Now she’s forced to do the pick-ups, and she hops on her motorcycle to go all “girl with the dragon tattoo” on some criminal asses. My wife said, “So, she went to his house with her daughter on the back of that bike?”

At that point, my wife and I decided we’d just have fun making fun of this movie. It was so utterly ridiculous. And it’s the worst acting performance of Freeman’s career. He’s merely looking at screens and directing Victoria (she had a body-cam, as well as a camera on her helmet). 

At first I thought things were shot stylishly. The lighting was flashy, and a few of the shoot-outs were done well. But then that got old quick. My wife said it felt like a student film. I think it felt like a European filmmaker trying his version of John Wick.

These types of action pictures are always a tough sell for me in the first place. I had a friend last year who couldn’t believe I had never seen Collateral (Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx). I watched it, and thought it was mildly amusing (Cruise is a hitman, making taxi driver Foxx take him from killing to killing, with threats to kill his mother if he didn’t). That story was also utterly ridiculous, but at least they didn’t go over the top with the action scenes and there was good acting. Here, Freeman’s expressions weren’t even believable.

Early on, we see there are a lot of dirty cops working for Damon, as they beat another cop senseless in an interrogation room. They’re looking for the phone he had, which contained incriminating evidence. As they beat him, another cop comes in and says, “Uh, guys?” 

They continue punching him.

“Guys?”

A few more kicks.

Finally, this younger cop says, “I found his phone in his locker.”

Which leads me to wonder, why don’t you lead with that? If everyone is looking for a certain item, and are pounding on a guy over it…you walk in and say, “Hey guys, I found his phone!”

Screenwriters Samuel Bartlett and George Gallo (who also directed), really dropped the ball with this garbage. They don’t give us an interesting backstory on either of these two characters and the material is all underdeveloped.

Another technique Gallo did that was laughable, was having Victoria think about a scene we just saw happen. It could be seeing her daughter in the hidden room, or shooting a Russian mobster as she’s speeding away on her motorcycle. Why do we need to see a 10 second flashback of what we just saw?

Oh, and she didn’t just have a few guns with her. When the situation presents itself, she pulls out a grenade. So, not only does she have a “special set of skills” but she has an unlimited supply of weapons on her person.

A pleasant surprise was seeing Nick Vallelonga, who wrote, produced, and starred in Green Book, the best movie of 2018.

Now he’s involved in what could be the worst movie of 2021.

0 stars.

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