Poor Danny Dyer gets a bad rap, undeservedly so. The vast majority of his back-catalogue may have been panned (often by people who haven’t seen it), yet his films have legions of fans. Dyer does the Brit toughman persona well and his work is more often than not all the better for his presence. His latest feature, Vendetta, takes the Death Wish vigilante structure and adapts it for contemporary Britain in the actor’s most impressive film since The Business.
Dyer is Special Forces Interrogator Jimmy Vickers who returns home from Afghanistan to find that his parents (Dynastsy’s Emma Samms and Tony Denham) have been brutally murdered by a criminal gang. He soon sets out for revenge, yet quickly arouses the suspicion of the police.
Both directed and written by Stephen Reynolds, Vendetta is a primal story of revenge that follows an almost identical framework to Death Wish – yet ultimately an incredibly effective framework that still works to this day. Reynold’s film is packed with a strong emotional backbone, established through its hard-to-watch opening which sees the murder of Jimmy’s parent and lays the template for Jimmy’s vengeance. This is a stirring gritty tale, but do expect a few Brit-flick clichés on the way from unruly hoodies to grimy British streets.
Vendetta remains fast-paced and continually engaging, it is packed with enough grizzly shocks to keep viewers gripped throughout. There is a sort of macabre fascination found in watching Dyer unveil his own brand of street justice, whether it be pouring concrete mix down hoodlum’s throats (surprisingly inventive) or pouring acid over their heads. Whilst Reynolds makes no real statement on the moral problems with this form of revenge, one cannot deny that there are primal feelings of support for Mr. Dyer’s activities. Come on, nobody should be able to kill Emma Samms and get away with it, right?
Dyer is particularly impressive in Vendetta. Seeing him play a broken man with nothing to lose allows him to showcase slight emotional depth in what is one of the strongest performances of his career. However, let’s be honest here, we’re all more interested in seeing him playing the tough talking Brit hard man and he does this with what appears to be complete ease.
The film’s ending which is playful nod to Death Wish also sets up the film for a sequel that would be an incredibly entertaining watch. All I’ll say is watch out New York, Danny’s coming. Hopefully it will be picked up as this is a particular highpoint in Dyer’s career.
Vendetta keeps things simple (perhaps its key strength) never attempts to over-complicate its slick, effective story. Dyer is on top-form in this fast-paced gritty revenge flick which stands as the highpoint of his recent career, as well as an impressive directorial start to Stephen Reynold’s feature film career.
Anchor Bay Entertainment / Richwater Films
DVD Release Date:
23rd December 2013 (UK)
Danny Dyer, Vincent Regan, Emma Samms, Richie Harnnett
Buy Vendetta: DVD or Blu-ray [Amazon]