Vanquish is a perfect action movie in theory. Victoria (Ruby Rose) is a former Russian drug courier. She wants to move on with her life and simply care for her daughter. Unfortunately for her, a retired cop named Damon (Morgan Freeman) has other plans – and has captured Victoria’s daughter as leverage.
The set up may be uninspired, but it works in the right hands. The criminal gone good who is forced back into their old ways is popular since people tend to like tales of redemption. And part of those stories is the struggle to stay on the straight and narrow. Being that it is a cliched plot, this means the characters and action must be compelling.
This is where Vanquish falters. Victoria has the potential to be an interesting character. Unfortunately, the film is content to let her move from one action scene to the next. There is plenty of material for a compelling backstory, but co-writer and director George Gallo chooses to not explore this avenue.
Even more surprising is the lack of attention paid to the relationship between Victoria and her daughter. This should be the emotional core of the movie, yet fails to go beyond a mom trying to save her kid. It is a puzzling decision since a stronger bond could have added more depth to Vanquish.
Freeman has been in some memorable movies in his career and can bring a lot to a movie. He is never given the opportunity here as he is basically left sitting in a control room spouting exposition. It comes off as a wasted opportunity.
On the plus side, the premise promises action. There have been many movies with mundane plots and generic dialogue that have been saved by amazing stunt work. Sadly, Vanquish is not one of them. There are plenty of jump cuts and motorcycle chases, but even the best of them come off as more gimmicky that anything else. Underneath it all, there is the potential for a fun action movie. It’s just a matter of finding it.
Vanquish opens in select theaters on April 16 and will be available on demand an digital April 20
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