Running time: 96 minutes. Rated R (bloody violence, language, some sexual material and drug use). In select theaters April 16; On demand April 20.
Don’t be fooled by the name Morgan Freeman.
The 83-year-actor appears alongside Ruby Rose in the new action movie “Vanquish.” But the Oscar winner can’t lift this heinous material by director and co-writer George Gallo. Popeye couldn’t hoist it up post-spinach.
The exhausting film is about a former drug runner for the Russians named Victoria, played by model and so-so actress Rose. During one bloody night, crime boss Damon (Freeman) forces the reformed mercenary to murder and rob a slew of gangsters in exchange for her daughter’s safety. He keeps the little girl hostage.
Throughout the eternal spree, Damon gives Victoria instructions via a Bluetooth headset from a dimly lit den he almost never leaves. He makes helpful comments such as “Wow,” “Oh, s–t” and “Stay awake.” “Vanquish” might be Freeman’s easiest role ever — and, yes, I am aware he played a voice in “The Lego Movie.”
What is the ultimate goal of this orgy of violence? Your guess is as good as mine. Similarly vague is the setting. Rose is Australian, but the mystifying town she’s in is populated by Southern yokel criminals, German thugs and French sleazeballs. Welcome to Deutsch-lanta-ance!
Each illicit location she’s sent to — there are five and you count them down in hopes it’ll speed things up — is proudly nondescript and always tinted blue or green. There’s a cavernous German-speaking nightclub with just two patrons, and a drug lord’s headquarters that belongs in a Peoria cul-de-sac.
The scene in that forgettable house does offer a good lifestyle tip, though. After a bad guy roofies Victoria, she wakes herself up by doing a line of coke off the coffee table. Remember that, kids.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with films that are little more than compilations of violent sequences. The “John Wick” series is exactly that, with a bit of backstory thrown in for an occasional breather. But the exquisite action of “John Wick” is like watching a ballet … if in “Swan Lake” everybody was brutally killed.
In “Vanquish,” Victoria is a simple sharpshooter who slides her motorcycle under a semi-truck once — a move we’ve seen countless times on-screen. The fighting is unsatisfying, and renders the film a failure.
Early in the film Damon goes to confession and says, “Bless me father for I have sinned.” Indeed. Say 10 “Hail, Marys,” Morgan.