Vengeance: A Love Story is Rated 4 STARS by Battleroyal!

“How provocatively can a woman behave before she’s asking to be sexually assaulted? How far, before any battering she receives becomes her fault, and not that of her attackers? The answer is of course that there is NO distance a woman can go before she deserves to be raped, but these are the questions being put to the good folk of Niagara Falls, NY, in this, the new film by director Johnny Martin (Delirium). Based on the 2003 novella Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates, Vengeance: A Love Story plays in many ways like an eighties/nineties thriller (I mean that in its best sense, it should be noted). This feeling is no doubt augmented by the star turns of both Don Johnson (Miami Vice) in strutting peacock mode as cocksure defender Jay Kirkpatrick and of a (thankfully) largely restrained Nicolas Cage (Face/Off) as John Dromoor, the detective determined to dispense justice when the law will not. But for me, the real stars here are Anna Hutchison (The Cabin in the Woods) as Teena, the victim of the attack, Deborah Kara Unger (Payback) as Agnes, Teena’s devastated mother, and especially Talitha Bateman (The 5th Wave) as Bethie, the girl who witnessed the entire assault on her mother. I expected to find myself referring to Miss Bateman as a newcomer but this is her fifteenth picture and, given her ability on display here, I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

In addition to the rape itself which is brutal but mercifully brief, Vengeance: A Love Story is often a hard watch, from the various scenes of young Bethie being harried in her small town by the friends and relatives of the rapists, to the court scenes in which Teena is pulled to pieces all over again in an entirely different but hardly less inhuman manner. Things become decidedly more “John Wick” much later on but this is of course a good thing, with the Niagara Falls themselves being used to quite beautiful effect in one instance.

Vengeance: A Love Story never drags, in fact it feels all-too-brief; Nicolas Cage drips laconic menace throughout, and the movie – due out on March 27th, 2017 – comes highly recommended. Four stars.”


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