Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I think I'm going to die today, and everyone that hurt me is going to pay

Vengeance flicks are surprisingly idea driven. Many dwell on the idea of justice as Deathwish and its cartoonish sequels show. Last House on the Left and the Hills Have Eyes take a nihilistic view that there is no justice and that all people are essentially beasts that prey upon each other, whether they be criminals or the bourgeois. For me the most interesting movies put the idea of justice idea aside and take the Count of Monte Cristo* approach.

That book argued that vengeance destroys both the original criminal and the original victim. The outstanding and incredibly violent Oldboy is a great example of the type. A step or two down from that level is the British Dead Man's Shoes. Paddy Considine plays a British solider whose mentally retarded brother is tormented by small town hoods, while he is away on the service. He comes back to deliver a little payback. Considine plays the role well, becoming increasingly menacing as the story progresses. The tormentors are presented well too. With a single exception, they aren't evil, they are just stupid, normal people who go too far. And it is this that drives the avenger crazy.

*If long 19th century novels or their film adaptations aren't your thing, consider Stephen Fry's Revenge. In his amusing afterword, Fry notes that about halfway through writing his book he realized he stole the whole thing from Dumas. As in the entire plot.


Brack said...

I would through Munich into the mix. Great flick; pretty much a complete downer. By the end of the movie, Eric Bana seems as if he's aged 50 years.


Tripp said...

Ah, good one. I liked that movie a lot and Bana is fantastic.