Vendetta review

More than a few cheeky pints will be poured this Christmas when Dyer hits the small screen on Albert Square, but before then it’s bloody revenge he’ll be serving on the streets of London. That's right, London. Something new thriller Vendetta ensures you will never forget, with writer/director Reynolds armed with a tapestry of impressive landscape shots showing off the Big Smoke's best sides roughly every nine minutes. One thing you will be forgiven for forgetting, however, is why all the players have assembled on this grizzly, urban stage in the first place.

Jimmy Vickers (Dyer) is a Special Forces Interrogator gone AWOL who returns home to find his parents gruesomely murdered by a gang of thieves after Vickers Snr kills one of their own in self defence during a botched robbery. With a hopelessly toothless police force and his mysterious old army unit on his trail, Jimmy Jr assembles some tasty toys to exact some naughty vengeance.

Simplicity in such films is key. Vendetta takes us through well-trodden territory where Charles Bronson (Death Wish) and Kevin Bacon (Death Sentence) have left impressively bloody footsteps. There is a closer connection to Shane Meadows’ Dead Man Shoes here as he adds a secretive military back story to Vickers, with a hint of more going on when shadowy government officials take an active interest in his murder spree. Whilst Reynolds should be offered kudos for his attempt to freshen things up, it is actually here that the film quickly falls down.

At some point Vendetta stops being a revenge film and turns into something else entirely. Two films start trying to occupy the same space. The story becomes muddled, as if Reynolds was influenced by a host of different films when writing his first draft – and it’s that first draft that has made it to the screen. Where there was revenge there is now military conspiracy reminiscent of The Bourne Identity. The original inciting incident becomes such a faded blur that even a stark reminder late on can't bring it back into focus.

A focus that is lost despite the efforts of cinematographer Haider Zafar who ensures the visuals are polished throughout. In fact the production value of the film is such that it certainly deserves a theatrical release, and as a whole is far better than a lot of straight-to-video fare. Audiences will then have to decide for themselves if Vendetta is an urban crime drama, a revenge film, a social commentary, a conspiracy thriller or even just a "Danny Dyer" film. Try as it might, it can't be everything. Of course if you're just looking for the latter you won't be disappointed. This is as close as you will ever get to see Danny Dyer as a cockney Batman (in fact the closing scene promises a story worth following up in that regard).

In the end though, clunky dialogue, two-dimensional characters and a plot with an identity crisis means the story of murdered parents and a failing legal justice system can't be taken as seriously as it should be.

Vendetta at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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