Released: 2nd June
Seen: 2nd July
Normally when I review a film, I will try to avoid looking up other reviews or even look at the number on Rotten Tomatoes because I really don’t want to be influenced when writing my own piece. I would hate to steal a line by accident or have my views influenced by the group, I’d rather like an unpopular film than pretend to hate it just to fit in. So, when I was googling the movie Vanquish in order to have the IMDB page up so I could get the spelling of certain names correct and saw that it had a 5% on Rotten Tomatoes I was in shock because that’s worse than the score for Music, and Music is my current front runner for worst of the year. Surely this can’t be that bad, can it?
Vanquish follows former drug runner Victoria (Ruby Rose) who has been dragged back into her old job by retired cop Damon (Morgan Freeman) who has kidnapped her child (somehow) and is holding her hostage while he sends Victoria off to go collect 5 large bags of money from various places around town. All Victoria has is a motorbike, some guns and… well, that’s literally it. She certainly doesn’t have anything interesting enough to require a film be made about her but someone did it because we live in the bad place.
If Vanquish could be called anything, it’s disgustingly amateur and pathetically produced. I’ve reviewed a lot of independent films here, films clearly shot in people’s homes with a bunch of mates in bad costumes and even the worst of those films looked better than Vanquish which apparently had enough of a budget to afford to hire Morgan Freeman and Ruby Rose so therefore I expect better. I don’t know why I expected better, but apparently expecting bare minimum quality is too much for Vanquish.
The actual technique on display is rancid, as is the colour palette was chosen for much of Vanquish. Someone clearly watched a lot of Dario Argento films and went “Ooh, pretty colours. I’mma do weird pretty colours in my film too!” before doing a bunch of drugs and making this monstrosity. Slime greens, murky blues and putrid pinks filter Vanquish like someone stapled half-eaten cellophane to the film negative. None of the film has been processed to give it any real contrast, they’ve just thrown a colourful filter over footage direct from the camera and it looks awful.
Then there’s the editing which looks like a pretentious first year film student who wanted to test out Final Cut Pro and see what cool things it could do. If a shot isn’t edited with a crossfade for no reason, there’s a sharp cut to black before cutting right back to the same thing we just saw for no reason. Dramatic scene transitions have the entire screen swipe between shots with a dramatic “Woosh” which could theoretically look cool if there was anything cool to look at in any of the shots. If there’s a weird editing trick to be done, Vanquish does it about 40 times in a row during the most mundane sequences in a film that’s too boring to even be called ‘mundane’.
I’d say that this was a case of style over substance but that implies that this style is good enough to get over something. It’s attempted style done by a first-timer who… oh wait, sorry, this isn’t a film by a first-timer, its director has over a dozen films to his name including The Comeback Trail (a film that came out last year that you probably didn’t see). Same with the editor and cinematographer, these are not first-timers but people with dozens of films under their belt who should know how to make a film but I guess they forgot how to do that this time because there is not a single frame of Vanquish worth looking at. If it’s not ugly, it’s pointless and if it’s not pointless it’s horrifically out of focus.
But hey, maybe Vanquish looks bad but the story of a former drug runner doing a job for a crooked cop sounds like it could be a fun action film, right? Surely there’s plenty in that concept for a compelling story or interesting cha-HAHAHA! I can’t even finish typing that sentence out, the script is a complete hunk of shit. Nothing works about it, it’s a bland story told badly with uninteresting characters spouting dialogue that is technically a series of words assembled to form sentences. You don’t care about the main character, her daughter, anyone at all. No one here really seems to even have a character to work with, they just kind of float through the film hoping someone will let them do something meaningful… that will never happen.
You know you’re not doing a good job as a director when you somehow get Morgan Freeman into your movie and he doesn’t even try… Morgan. Goddamn. Freeman. Oscar Winner Morgan Freeman turns in a performance that can best be described as “Conscious”, and that’s the generous description. Ruby Rose fares even worse, being asked to somehow be a badass when she’s given no badass one-liners or interesting sequences to deal with. I know these two can be good, we’ve seen it multiple times, but they are floundering here and the longer you watch the crueler you feel because you can’t stop their suffering.
Vanquish is rotten. An underbaked concept that was filmed by a crew who thought they were cool but ended up just making… this thing. I actually feel exhausted just from sitting and watching because the act of sitting and facing the screen felt like it took more energy than the filmmakers used to make it. I’m just so tired, so very tired.