CAST: Ruby Rose, Morgan Freeman, Nick Vallelonga, Miles Doleac, Patrick Muldoon, Juju Journey Brener, Julie Lott, Ekaterina Baker
RUNNING TIME: 96 mins
BASICALLY…: A single mother (Rose) is forced to do the bidding of a retired, crooked cop (Freeman) after his kidnaps her daughter…
NOW FOR THE REVIEW…
Whenever a big-name Hollywood actor appears in some low-rent schlockfest, whether it’s Nicolas Cage, John Travolta or Bruce Willis, the first thing that always seems to come to people’s minds is that said actor probably has some tax issues, or just wants to buy a new jet-ski or something; either way, regardless of the quality of script they’re given, the paycheque always seems too good to resist. In Morgan Freeman’s case, though, no amount of money could possibly explain why he signed on to Vanquish, a dreadful and hilariously inept film which leaves the Oscar-winning screen legend with little to do other than sit down and literally phone in the majority of his scenes (though, at age 83, I suppose it’s somewhat understandable why he’d pick a role that requires very little physical activity).
In the film, Freeman plays Damon, a hero cop and retired commissioner who’s been left wheelchair-bound from his days on the job. However, Damon also appears to have been crooked to some degree, and is intent on cleaning up shop before his equally corrupt cop pals (among them, oddly, Nick Vallelonga who won two Oscars for producing and co-writing Green Book). He asks his apparently only caregiver Victoria (Ruby Rose) to use some of her former criminal skills to pick up some bags of cash from all over town, and holds her sick young daughter – whatever illness she has is, like most things in this movie, woefully underdeveloped – hostage unless she agrees to the task. Soon, Victoria is stepping toe-to-toe with drug dealers, crooked cops, and shady governors in order to complete her mission, and it’s all way less exciting and thrilling than it sounds.
Right away, from the horribly put-together opening credits sequence which features some awful CGI newspapers featuring some of Freeman’s earlier headshots (and, most hilariously of all, a secondary headline news article about this film’s director and co-writer George Gallo’s upcoming – and very real – film The Comeback Trail receiving 15 Oscar nominations), you find yourself subconsciously strapping yourself in for the rocky and jittery ride. Gallo, known best for his scripts to films like Midnight Run and 29th Street (the latter of which he also directed), has made a number of other movies in the past, though I doubt even the worst of them looked as amateurish and rushed as his work on Vanquish does. This is seriously a terribly directed movie, with scenes that are often marred by poor camerawork which looks like the crew just shot certain exterior shots with the video camera on their phones, and some atrocious editing which might be a contender for the worst you’ll see all year. Every single transition in this film is a fade, whether it’s cutting to and from scenes, cutting to black and then back to the action, or even if it’s right in the middle of the same scene for no apparent reason, and every time it takes you right out of the movie because all you keep picturing in your head is the editor just discovering that feature for the first time in Adobe Premiere Pro. It’s also a very ugly movie to look at, with puke-green colour tints dominating a vast majority of shots and leaving an unpleasant taste in your mouth, but not in the way that the film perhaps intends; in addition, there are times when the filmmaking in general is so bad that I had to pause the movie at one point to confirm that I didn’t just see a reflection of the camera in someone’s helmet visor (turns out that it was just the dashboard of a rather futuristic motorcycle, but the point is that everything else in this movie was so incompetent that I wasn’t entirely sure that this was just another major screw-up or not).
Nobody involved with Vanquish seems to even be trying to make an effort, not the director nor his crew, and certainly not the actors who all look as though they’re utterly disinterested in this material. Despite doing nothing but sit in his wheelchair and watch a monitor for most of the movie, Morgan Freeman still somehow delivers such a soulless, lifeless turn where you cannot see any semblance of a human behind his static eyes, looking as though he himself is being held hostage by a filmmaker who won’t let him go unless he speaks some of Gallo and co-writer Samuel Bartlett’s atrocious dialogue. Ruby Rose is equally left out to dry, having been given an absolute nothing of a character who you learn so little about that she’s not worth caring about in the slightest; she can’t even make the most of such little meat to chew on, because she greatly lacks the kind of screen presence and intimidation factor that a role like this in a much better script requires, and she just comes across as this wooden, cold-blooded sociopath who cannot even seem to muster up enough emotion for her own kidnapped daughter (her reaction to such a thing is more like she’s mildly annoyed than anything else).
Because it’s so lifeless and featuring neither an interesting enough story or even solid characters to carry itself, Vanquish becomes a slog incredibly quickly. So little happens in this movie that I paused the movie at one point, and where it had halted – during a scene that I thought was roughly the end of the first act – turned out to be the halfway mark, and barely much else occurs afterwards as well, including a swift anti-climax featuring one of the most laughably awful CGI explosions I’ve seen in such a long time, and plot-lines like an FBI agent who comes in looking and acting like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction going absolutely nowhere. Not even the action is thrilling, because it’s so badly shot that you can hardly tell who’s chasing Ruby Rose half the time, and most of all there’s been nothing up to this point to make you care about anything or anyone. It is, by every definition, a complete waste of time for everyone, including the actors, the filmmakers, and the audience.
However, the only reason this movie isn’t receiving an F grade is because, unlike The Resort, this at the very least looks like a movie; a terrible, awful movie, one that will almost certainly make the end-of-year Worst list, but a movie nonetheless, and not something you’d find at the very bottom of the faecal pile. Don’t mistake that for praise, though; Vanquish is still utterly dreadful, and proof that Morgan Freeman perhaps needs to have a serious talk with his agent.
SO, TO SUM UP…
Vanquish is a dreadful and insufferably dull action-thriller which contains some horrendous production values like ugly cinematography and some of the year’s worst editing, and lifeless turns by Morgan Freeman and Ruby Rose where you can tell that even they don’t care whatsoever about the DOA material they’re performing in.