British Film Review: 'Vendetta'
Review By Stuart Wright
'Vendetta' is written and directed (and edited I might add) by Stephen Reynolds (The Rise and Fall of the Essex Boys, Tomb Raider Ascension). It's the story of Jimmy Vickers (Danny Dyer) a soldier returning from Afghanistan under a dark cloud and looking for revenge.
Why? His cabbie dad, the hulking figure of Tony Debham, went out to work one day and became a have a go hero when he interrupted a robbery. He saves the girl, and the loot, but in doing so he killed one of the bad guys. However, it wasn't any old bad guy - it was the brother of muscle bound local gang leader Warren (Joshua Osei). In the eye for an eye world of the criminal set this score must be settled. In a brutal home invasion reminiscent of Michael Winner's 'Death Wish' (1974) they gleefully torture, rape and then burn Vickers' parents alive.
Dyer is unflinching and remorseless as a killer who won't be stopped until he's done or dies trying. Each set piece is uniquely twisted and proves Vickers' sense of revenge has made him much crueler than the sorrowful characters he is pursuing. A stand out method is the cement down the throat death of one hoodie-wearing scrote.
Warren and his gang are just scum - and while it makes it easier to see them die at the hands of Vickers, they rarely do anything constructive or obstructive to thwart his efforts to kill them.
Conversely, Detective Inspector Spencer Holland (Alistair Petrie) is a real complex character who - contrary to the person you meet when he first walks onto a murder scene at the start - becomes a real lawman with a genuine desire to do the right thing. Arguably Petrie steals every scene he's in. His role in the finale is a neat twist and the ultimate betrayal of the public he serves.
But there's more to Vickers than just avenging his parents' deaths. Deeds done in Afghanistan catch up with him. Here the story escalates to armed forces versus the police for the collar of the crazy vigilante causing trouble on the streets of the East End.
The moral code in the world of 'Vendetta' is too binary to be authentic. Hardworking people are good, the police are close to useless and/or are more interested in promotion than enforcing justice on their streets, and the bad guys are above the law. This equation seems to be the justification for what Vickers is doing. That foible aside, the plot and action rattle along with a few reversals of expectations along the way to keep you guessing. Danny Dyer is convincing as the hero. In some senses he's part Stallone's Rambo and part Liam Neeson's Bryan Mills (Taken). These influences, along with the likes of 'Death Wish', are worn on the sleeve of 'Vendetta' with some pride.
'Vendetta' is released in UK cinemas 22nd November 2013