The premise of VANQUISH seemed extremely promising
An action movie with Ruby Rose and Morgan Freeman? Sign me up. The premise of Vanquish seemed extremely promising. A retired cop forces a former drug courier to help him by holding her daughter hostage. Vanquish sounded like an intense, action-packed thriller that would keep me on the edge of my seat.
Vanquish is directed by George Gallo, who you might not know as the director of Bigger, Columbus Circle, or The Poison Rose. You might know him as a writer on Bad Boys and the sequels that followed. From my limited knowledge of Gallo, he writes and directs mainly cop thrillers and is somehow able to get big name stars to work on his movies. The loglines of his movies are certainly intriguing, and I could see how many big names would be attracted to the potential. With Vanquish, Gallo unfortunately misses the mark entirely. On top of that, he makes some very odd choices. The one I puzzled over the most was having Victoria relive sequences while riding on a motorcycle. We essentially watched a scene and then had it replayed almost verbatim “in her head” immediately afterwards. The scenes weren’t that good to have to sit through them twice. Gallo’s directing might not have been horrendous, but even if it was a mediocre performance, it was overshadowed by the rest of the movie being lackluster.
Gallo also wrote Vanquish, which unfortunately was a convoluted story that doesn’t have a satisfying payoff at the end. We are dropped into the throws of the story immediately with Damon (Morgan Freeman), an outstanding retired cop in a wheelchair, and his caretaker Victoria (Ruby Rose). She has a daughter, Lily (Juju Journey Brener), and they both seemingly live with Damon and help look after him. Early on, we get a sense that Damon and Victoria get along well and have a mutual respect for each other. That all falls to pieces when Damon holds Lily hostage to get Victoria to make a series of pickups for him. Is it believable that Damon, who has helped Victoria out and for all intents and purposes seems to care about her, holds her daughter hostage? Not really, but you can overlook it for the story to get moving. Victoria then sets off on a quest to complete the pickups so she can see her daughter again. Along the way we learn that Victoria is a former Russian drug courier and knows many of the men who are involved in these pickups causing things to get violent. None of this fits very well, and there’s a side story about dirty cops that isn’t fully explored or explained. Overall, part of what makes cop thrillers exciting are the stakes and the stakes aren’t believable with Vanquish.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Vanquish has a truly killer cast, which was perhaps what made it more disappointing. You know things are bad when you’re cringing as Morgan Freeman delivers his lines. The dialogue had no zip or zest which may have contributed to the poor performances from Freeman and Rose. They do give a valiant effort, but their characters aren’t fully developed and their motivations are hazy at best. Freeman seems almost robotic in his delivery, and we get no sense of who Damon is other than the five minute opening credits where we see newspaper clippings of all of his accomplishments as a police officer. Is he a good cop trying to get to the bottom of another mystery? Is he a bad cop who posed as a good cop for his entire career? Who knows. But more to the point, who cares. I personally didn’t care about any of the characters. Ruby Rose is just fine as Victoria, relying on her tough girl persona to do most of the work for her. But I didn’t feel any sense of urgency when Lily was taken from her. There was little emotion or panic displayed when her daughter suddenly went missing. To be fair, the actors suffered from a poorly written script with dialogue that probably would have sounded flat even if Meryl Streep had delivered it.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
The visual effects are pretty standard. Nothing truly spectacular stands out. There are a few chase scenes that will keep your attention and one explosion that is simply fine. A couple of shootouts resulted in bloody messes, and they were all believable enough. The makeup and design was adequate, getting the job done well enough and putting you into the world of Vanquish right at the beginning.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The music was handled by Aldo Shllaku who has a plethora of composer credits to his name. Shllaku did enough to keep the movie moving along. The music added to the intensity of some scenes but wasn’t particularly memorable or noteworthy.
On the surface, Vanquish could have been a thrilling cop drama, but the storyline and the characters weren’t engaging. There wasn’t enough motivation to truly get invested in the story (or the ending), and the acting performances were mediocre at best. There are plenty of other legitimately good, tense cop thrillers that you could watch instead.
Available in Select Theaters on April 16th and on Apple TV, and Everywhere You Rent Movies on April 20th! Available on Blu-ray and DVD on April 27th!