Movie Review: Revenge (1990)
“There’s only one passion more uncontrollable than love.”
Director: Tony Scott
Cast: Kevin Costner, Anthony Quinn, Madeleine Stowe
Synopsis: A retired Navy pilot begins an affair with the wife of a ruthless gangster.
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Kevin Costner (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Criminal) is an Air Force pilot in Revenge, which is quite handy for director Tony Scott because it means he gets to use up all the leftover aerial shots from Top Gun in the opening five minutes. In fact, that’s probably the only reason why Costner’s character actually is a fighter pilot because what we see is his last flight before he hangs up his joystick and goes to spend some time in Mexico with old friend Anthony Quinn (Lawrence of Arabia, The Marseille Contract), a rich but shady businessman with mob and political connections, whose life Costner once saved. Quinn has a bit of a temper – and definitely doesn’t like dogs – so he’s not the type of guy whose foxy young wife (Madeleine Stowe – The Last of the Mohicans) you’d want to be diddling behind his back. Oh no, that would be stupid and wrong in all sorts of ways. Kev and Maddie decide to make a run for it once he’s done just that, but Quinn’s an understandably mistrusting husband who taps his wife’s ‘phone calls and knows exactly what’s going on…
Revenge is one of those glossy Hollywood pics that thinks it’s better than it actually is and you can almost imagine the slightly puzzled looks on the faces of those involved when they viewed the final print and realised what they had on their hands wasn’t the next box-office smash but a rambling, slightly pointless melodrama. The biggest problem is Costner and Stowe’s characters. There’s just no resonance there, and we’re never convinced for one second that they’re a couple in the heated, hysterical grip of a towering passion that compels them to turn their lives upside down. We don’t care what happens to them and have no sympathy for their plight when things turn ugly, because there’s not enough back-story to either of them and they share very little sexual chemistry. Stowe wants kids but Quinn feels he’s too old, and Costner is bored with flying – and that’s about all we’re told, which leaves you wondering why it takes nearly two hours to tell its tale.
Anyway, things get a bit better once Quinn has exacted his revenge (and, to be honest, because of the lack of empathy for the lovers that the script generates, you can’t help but sort of sympathise with him – especially as he gave Costner every opportunity to call off the elopement). Things still move slowly, but the story opens out and introduces us to a group of new characters who at least provide a diversion while not exactly livening things up much. I’m not quite sure why Costner keeps unexpectedly running into the guys who beat him to a pulp for Quinn. A little bit too coincidental for my liking – and instead of using them to perhaps locate Stowe, who Quinn has scarred and put to work in a whorehouse, he kills them with a savage enthusiasm. He’s changed by now, has Costner, gone all stubbly.
Scott goes for a lot of style, but he’s only partially successful. The lush, golden hues of the first half of the film are replaced by harsher colours and darkness once Quinn’s had his revenge and the hazy interiors of Quinn’s mansion replaced by the dull uniformity of hotel rooms and cheap bars. Until the finale, that is, when Stowe is found once more, and the haze returns just in time for a huge, supposedly tear-jerking conclusion that is staggeringly unsuccessful.
(Reviewed 4th November 2011)