Review by Sean Boelman
Film is definitely an artistic medium, but there are some instances in which audiences aren’t looking for anything more than mindless entertainment. George Gallo’s Vanquish should be one of those cases, but because of the director’s horrible sense of overambition, this action flick that wants to be an art house picture is nearly unwatchable.
The movie is about a former cop who forces a retired drug courier to take out a series of gangsters by kidnapping her daughter. It’s really thin plotting whose only purpose is to catapult the protagonist into a series of altercations with progressively quirkier villains. The influences from Asian cinema here are clear, but Gallo seems to fundamentally misunderstand what makes the genre tick, aping the style without any of the edginess or originality.
Gallo should be given props for actually trying to do something with this straight-to-VOD action film, unlike a lot of other similar movies which settle for rapid editing in an attempt to create excitement. Still, his colorful and gimmicky approach doesn’t fare much better, frequently distracting from the choreography that should have been the star of the show.
For better or worse, once the action gets going, it never really lets up. It’s a high-octane ninety minutes, but none of it is memorable for the right reasons. What should be yet another example of forgettable action schlock is instead a laughably bad attempt at making something more out of a wholly underdeveloped script.
Perhaps the biggest issue with the film (although there are many) is the fact that none of the character motivations make much sense. There is some expositional dialogue meant to explain why these characters are doing what they are doing, but it’s hard to really sympathize with any of these shallow archetypes that are meant to be characters.
The movie couldn’t even bother to give the audience any enjoyable villains. Apart from one scene towards the end that might briefly pique the viewer’s interest, the opponents that the protagonist faces are merely a series of goons and bosses. At a certain point, the only thing that distinguishes one scene from the last is how Gallo changes the look.
It’s genuinely sad that Ruby Rose continues to get lackluster projects like this, because she is an action star waiting to happen. Her talent with the choreography is obvious in this and other films she has appeared in recently, but they are so dull as a whole that she can’t manage to break out of this dollar bin void.
Vanquish might have been enjoyable if it wasn’t trying to be something that it’s not. However, since filmmaker George Gallo felt the need to try to give this an upscale flair, it’s hard to enjoy any of the fight sequences it might have had to offer.
Vanquish hits theaters on April 16 and VOD on April 20.