'Vengeance' is Blumhouse Production’s newest film written, directed and starring B.J. Novak. As his character Ben Manalowitz tries to find his career as an aspiring podcaster, he receive an story that he cannot pass up when his friends with benefits unexpectedly passes away. Can Vengeance find its footing in its plot?
Ben Manalowitz (B.J. Novak) is an aspiring New York podcaster in search of a story. When the body of a woman he had been hooking up with is discovered in a West Texas oil field, he stumbles onto exactly the sort of true-crime tale that could make his career. Launching an investigation into her death in collaboration with high-powered producer Eloise (Issa Rae), the confident Ben finds himself in over his head attempting to navigate a wildly unfamiliar culture. As he grows unexpectedly close to the young woman’s eccentric family and encounters figures like the enigmatic music producer Quentin Sellers (Ashton Kutcher), he’s forced to confront his own shortcomings and preconceptions. At the same time, he’s drawn into an ill-considered plot to avenge the crime. Emmy Award®- nominee B.J. Novak (“The Office”) makes his feature film directorial debut with an insightful, irreverent, fish-outof-water black comedy about myth, misunderstandings and murder.
The film presents some tense moments from the beginning that set the tone that B.J. Novak is ready to show his range as a film creator and actor. The close up shots do a good job at highlighting the different cast members, including Issa Rae and Ashton Kutcher, and their characters’ backgrounds while remaining elusive to what is happening. Novak also mixes in dark comedy to maintain the tone while balancing the uncomfortable anxiety building in the plot.
This build up flattens in the second half as the movie starts to lose focus. The direction takes a turn and start to feel more like a derailed mystery instead of the thrillers that Blumhouse Productions is known for. The change picks back up toward the end but is not enough to completely save the momentum lost. The payoff in the end is overwhelmed by the converging genres that lose sight of what the audience is supposed to pick up on.
While 'Vengeance' is entertaining through the first watch, it would be difficult to justify watching again. The mystery loses its luster with its contrasting genres and slowly moving plot to an end that makes you wonder if the retribution is worth it.
'Vengeance' is in Theaters on July 29th, 2022.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Ashley Bell (Contributing Editor) is an Orlando native who loves watching movies. Her favorite genres include comedies, thrillers and sci-fi.
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