Directed by George Gallo.
Starring Morgan Freeman, Ruby Rose, Patrick Muldoon, Julie Lott, Ekaterina Baker, Nick Vallelonga, Joel Michaely, Miles Doleac, Chris Mullinax, Ele Bardha, Paul Sampson, Dylan Flashner, Bill Luckett, Juju Journey Brener, Reginald Robinson, Yvan Gauthier, Nate Adams, and Gregory Tremain Merrell.
A mother, Victoria, is trying to put her dark past as a Russian drug courier behind her, but retired cop Damon forces Victoria to do his bidding by holding her daughter hostage.
It’s no secret that beloved stars such as Nicolas Cage, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, and even Guy Pearce as of late have fallen on hard times and will pretty much accept any role for a paycheck, typically putting in minimal effort. I never would have guessed Morgan Freeman would not only follow suit (maybe he already has and this is all news to me) here with Vanquish but give what has to be the laziest performance yet from these household names. And here I was thinking Bruce Willis had it easy standing still in cosplay armor fighting generic creatures in Cosmic Sin, to which Morgan Freeman apparently said: “hold my beer” and got in a wheelchair to sleepwalk guide Ruby Rose through a series of shockingly boring and haphazardly put together motorcycle chases and gunplay. Yes, I hesitate to even call them shootouts because they aren’t; it’s just Ruby Rose occasionally taking out a firearm and shooting someone, which is what director George Gallo is trying to pass off as exciting action in this absolute incompetent disaster of a movie.
In addition to directing Vanquish, George Gallo also wrote the script alongside Samuel Bartlett, and between the filmmaking on display and the lines being spoken I honestly have no idea which is worse. There’s a scene where two characters are on the phone that reverses shot to the other person speaking what has to be at least 20 times in the span of two minutes. If you’ve ever seen the infamous clip from one of the Taken films that has about 37 cuts while Liam Neeson climbs one fence, well, that’s the kind of editing that exists throughout Vanquish. Pieces of dialogue from generic villains such as “you have a reputation, I’ve heard you have killed more people than Quentin Tarantino” are equally embarrassing.
Worse than the pisspoor craftsmanship is how void of life the storytelling is. Vanquish already lacks energy considering the action sequences are downright boring and drag on for too long, but the cast here is robotic in their delivery. If you can actually watch and listen to pretty much any of the dialogue scenes here, you are a master of discipline and holding attention. At times it looks like the filmmakers rolled the cameras and shot footage, and then slapped everything together with random mood lighting all over without any understanding of color theory whatsoever, making for a shameless desperate ploy at making this garbage appear atmospheric.
That’s not to say Vanquish would be good if any of these things were executed with a degree of competence, as the narrative was pretty much doomed from the beginning. It’s a tired and cliché story of a retired cop (Morgan Freeman) roping his caretaker that also happens to be a former Russian drug courier (Ruby Rose) into performing five mysterious cash pickups, using her child as blackmail to ensure it gets done. Again, nothing about this movie was ever going to be good, but the script doesn’t fool anyone that the cop acting as a villain has a good reason for doing so and might be leading Ruby Rose down a path of vengeance for her murdered brother. There are also supporting characters involving detectives and other criminals that simply don’t matter. Not a single thing they say is compelling or interesting.
Perhaps the biggest crime here is that there’s not one flashy or cool bit of action for Ruby Rose. She’s entirely wasted. All of Vanquish is a dumpster fire and no one should ever watch it even out of morbid curiosity. At least Morgan Freeman learned how to drive a power wheelchair. It’s not just bad, it’s a sad excuse for a movie.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com