Friday, April 16, 2021

Vanquish: Morgan Freeman Plays a Villain

Police Chief Damon Hickey is sort of like Chief Ironside, except he was on the take when he was shot. In fact, he is the guy who divvies up the take, down to crooked cops on the beat and up to the corrupt governor. The heat is on this fateful night, so he needs his caregiver to revert to her old criminal ways in George Gallo’s Vanquish, which opens today in select theaters and on-demand.

Victoria and her ailing daughter Lily always thought Hickey looked out for them, so the former drug mule is rather taken aback when he insists she make five cash pickups on his behalf. She has gone straight, but he has taken her daughter hostage (while being wheelchair-bound), so she reluctantly relents. Apparently, the Feds have some highly incriminating recordings in their hands, thanks to the deep informant Hickey’s men will soon kill, so he needs to go outside his organization. Unfortunately, each job will bring her into contact with criminal lowlifes she once knew, including the thugs who murdered her brother.

This might be Morgan Freeman’s first villainous role since his breakout in
Street Smart, but he shows a complete lack of enthusiasm. Frankly, he looks like he was drugged and forced to play the part against his will. On the other hand, this is Ruby Rose’s third action film in less than 12 months, but Vanquish makes The Doorman and SAS: Red Notice look like Casablanca and Citizen Kane. (Maybe leaving Batwoman was a mistake, you think?)

Gallo is probably best-known for writing
Midnight Run and Bad Boys, but you would not know it from the paucity of humor in Vanquish. It is also unpleasantly murky looking, as if the entire production was improperly lit. Admittedly, this is a rather violent film, but there are several dull chase sequences that are a chore to sit through.

Vanquish will inspire warm nostalgic fuzzies for Gulfport residents, because several scenes were shot at the beloved old school Triplett-Day Drug Co. (sort of smaller version of Wall Drug) that is now closed (ironically, they decided to call it quits right before the pandemic shutdown). That’s not much for those of us who never knew the institution, but its really all the film has.

Some critics seem to have a problem with Hickey being so morally ambiguous, but honestly, their selective outrage is misplaced in this case. Throughout
Vanquish, Rose looks nearly as bored as Freeman, but she doesn’t have as nearly many hits in the bank. She is becoming a Bruce Willis-like VOD regular. Pretty bland stuff (we’ve seen worse, but that’s no recommendation), Vanquish releases today (4/16) in select theaters and on-demand and digital VOD.