As a fan of Ruby Rose, it’s hard not to get excited whenever her name is attached to a movie. More often than not, her involvement usually guarantees some cool action sequences and stunts that are fun to watch even if the film itself doesn’t go past being mediocre. Unfortunately, Rose’s latest project Vanquish doesn’t even deliver on the compelling action front. Directed and co-written by George Gallo (writer of Bad Boys and Midnight Run), Vanquish is a very underwhelming crime “thriller” (using this term as lightly as possible) that is made even harder to watch by its incredibly frustrating filmmaking style and editing.
The story follows Ruby Rose as Victoria, a former drug courier for the Russian mob who has done her best to leave that life behind for the sake of her daughter, Lily. Unfortunately for Victoria, retired crooked cop Damon Hickey (Morgan Freeman), who has been a father figure to her, forces her back into that life by kidnapping her daughter. Damon tasks Victoria with making five cash pick-ups in one night and when she’s done, she’ll get her daughter back. On paper, the premise is simple enough but is made needlessly complicated by involving too many minor characters that we never really get to know and feeding us random bits of information throughout the film that just convolutes the story rather than clearing it up.
The main atrocity that Vanquish commits is being so badly put together. Even with the plot flaws, it could have been salvaged by competent editing, color grading, and directing. So many of the shot choices throughout are questionable and the editing itself is incredibly amateurish, almost every frame being replaced by another with a slow fade which grows old real quick. The color filters put over various sequences is laughably obvious, switching needlessly from blue to green to red almost every scene. It’s like everyone involved in the post-production had different ideas of what makes an action movie look cool and stylized but didn’t actually know how to go about doing it, so this is the result. Because of all of these choices, the film is such a slog to get through, and when an action scene does finally happen it’s extremely underwhelming.
Ruby Rose has proven time and time again that she’s an action star, which makes how she’s used in Vanquish so frustrating. She does a lot of motorcycle riding that looks cool but becomes tedious after a while, and she also gets to shoot a bunch of people. But besides that, she doesn’t get to show off her fighting skills that much which is a shame. The film relies more on her personality which would work if her character was well-written. Rose does what she can with the part while Morgan Freeman acts from a motorized wheelchair the entire movie, probably the main reason why he agreed to be in it. Rose and Freeman’s scenes together barely save the film, and it just confirms the fact that their talents are wasted here.
In more capable hands, Vanquish could have been a solid B action film. Instead, it’s a horribly edited and badly paced chore to sit through that squanders its two leads. If there’s anything positive to takeaway from it it’s the short runtime, but even then it somehow manages to make an hour and 36 minutes feel like an uneventful lifetime.
Vanquish will premiere on Premium Digital Platforms in the UK on May 28th.