Morgan Freeman sits in a wheelchair and orders B-movie action queen Ruby Rose around in “Vanquish,” a slow-walking, slow-drawling thriller filled with actors who have no business being in a movie with Freeman, who’s barely in it himself.
It’s bad in so many bizarre ways you wish it was bad enough to be fun, but it isn’t.
Freeman plays “America’s police commissioner,” a crooked cop confined to a wheel chair who kidnaps the sickly daughter of his “friend.” Victoria used to be some sort of secret agent “courier,” and with dominoes tumbling around a Federal investigation of this unnamed state’s “dirty cops” going all the way up to the governor (Julie Lott), Damon (Freeman) needs her services in the worst way.
He offers to pay for her kid’s treatment, and for insurance, takes her hostage. Victoria has to make five runs around town collecting mountains of cash that will make this world of Federal trouble go away.
She’ll get on her electric bike with “Blade Runner” synthesizers zinging behind her and zip around this seaside city from “a German bar,” to an African-American money laundering scheme backstage at a…curling ring? I think? That’s for starters.
The gay mobster’s lair is just delish, because a lot of people drawl in this Gothic noir nonsense. Victoria has quite the reputation, and everybody she meets wants her dead.
“I heard you killed more people than Quentin Tarantino!”
She tries, Lord knows she tries.
It’s a thriller with a lot of older bit players muttering updates into the phones at each other as Damon watches Vicky’s pick-ups, which seem to always end in glib gunplay, via a camera on her bike helmet and on her jacket lapel.
He’s always barking “Up ahead, Vicky!” and “Don’t PASS OUT, Vicky!” “It’s a TRAP.”
A half-assed car chase here, MO-lasses slow chats between dirty cops there, and on and on this clunker goes, at half-speed crawl from start to finish.
George Gallo, who wrote “Midnight Run” and “Bad Boys” back in his salad days, has lost whatever sense of forward motion even his worst scripts had. Hallucinatory fish-eye lenses, blurred sequences, extreme close-ups and flashes of an editor’s “Maybe I can save this” ambition show themselves.
Not a chance. A Southern drawl can convey peril, but only when it’s wielded by a master. Every scene that doesn’t end in gunplay is static as a still-life, only one of them with lines as funny as this.
“He’s dead?” “Pretty sure.” “What happened?” “You’ll…have to ask him.”
The bizarre stuff has to do with locale. The drawls give-away “local hires” in a lot of supporting roles, so it’s good a few Biloxi, Mississippi natives cashed a check or two, and not just Freeman, who lives there and owns a blues club in Clarksdale.
But a German language nightclub…in Biloxi? A French mobster? In Biloxi?
Rose, perhaps picking up on all the accents, lapses into her native Aussie, but just once or twice.
Weak villains, dull supporting players, and now it can be said — Rose only works in thrillers where she’s a menacing, mysterious figure of palpable menace, a supporting player who gets the fight choreography, stunt support and editing to carry it off.
But “John Wick” this isn’t.
MPA Rating: R for bloody violence, language, some sexual material and drug use
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Ruby Rose, Chris Mullinax, Patrick Muldoon and Julie Lott.
Credits: Directed by George Gallo, script by and George Gallo. A Lionsgate release
Running time: 1:36