Vanquish feels like it should be a good film. It’s got a snappy one-word title; there’s a popular female lead in Ruby Rose; Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman plays the main antagonist; and the premise of the plot guarantees action and a race against time. Sadly, Vanquish proves to be incredibly dull, barely going through the motions, and seems to be a very questionable choice in roles for Mr Freeman.
The story begins with a credits sequence that sets up the plot: a very long, seven minute credit sequence that feels almost twice as long. Freeman plays Damon, a former dirty cop who was injured and had to leave the force, yet still runs his corrupt operation from his home. When it seems like his plot to make money off the various criminals across the city is about to be exposed, he kidnaps the daughter of his carer Victoria (Ruby Rose) and forces her to make five money collections in order to get her back.
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Whilst this sounds a bit ridiculous at first glance (why make your carer go into dangerous places to get huge quantities of cash?), it’s revealed through some clunky dialogue that Victoria used to run drugs ‘for the Russians’, and Damon wants her to employ her old skills. This unfortunately descends into violence, as it seems that every criminal in the city has a past with Victoria and her brother (who’s not in the film, nor explained) and Victoria needs to murder her way across the city. The plot to make her have to fight every gangster and crooked cop is already thin enough, but when you discover that Damon literally just put Victoria’s daughter in his spare room and all she had to do was look around the house to find her it gets even more ridiculous.
Equipped with a pair of guns and a body-cam Rose makes her way around the city on the back of a motorcycle with sound effects that make it seem more like a Star Wars speeder than a real vehicle. The action sequences are so brief and spread out that they feel forgettable, and even the high speed chases fall flat largely due to her spending much of them arguing with Freeman, who’s chatting in her ear like a glorified sat-nav.
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Vanquish feels like it is the first draft of a story, the basic framework over which you’d build the rest of the movie. There are moments where we get huge info dumps, like the previously mentioned seven minute long credits sequence, yet I never felt like I knew enough to actually know what was happening. What was Damon doing with the various gangs around town? Who knows. What happened with Victoria and her brother, and why does every criminal know her? I don’t know. What’s wrong with Victoria’s ‘sick’ daughter who only says she’s ‘tired’? Haven’t a clue. Did anyone making this film even care? It doesn’t seem like it.
The performances seem to be phoned in at best, almost literally in Morgan Freeman’s case as he spends the majority of the film talking to Rose on the phone. Despite being an actor of amazing calibre Freeman delivers his lines like he’s either bored or falling asleep. Ruby Rose stumbles through action sequences giving head tilts to show her annoyance, or possibly to look tough. It felt so flat that the 90 minute run time felt incredibly bloated and left me bored throughout.
With action thriller films being a dime a dozen, and there being some truly good ones around, I’d be hard pressed to recommend Vanquish as one that’s worth your time. With a poor script, dull performances, and forgettable action there’s nothing here that would translate into a good time.