Friday, September 18, 2015


Dean Cain, who was a lean and solid Superman on television twenty years earlier, has packed on the pounds for this prison picture from twin directors Jen and Sylvia Soska. From WWE Studios, which produced the MARINE series, VENDETTA also stars Paul Wight — better known to wrestling fans as The Big Show — as Cain’s nemesis. Which explains why Cain had to bulk up for his role in order to believably go toe to toe with his seven-foot 450-pound co-star.

VENDETTA has a seriously dumb and implausible premise that the Soskas try to whisk aside by making the violence brutal and cruel. Perhaps they should have concentrated more on telling a good story, otherwise they wouldn’t have shown a prison bus driving through a desert to transport a prisoner from Chicago to an Illinois correctional facility. Credit is due to Cain, who plays a lot of nice guys, for giving the story’s implausibilities some weight.

Cain is Chicago cop Mason Danvers, whose attempts at bringing hulking psycho Victor Abbott (Wight) to justice are foiled when a “key witness” disappears. Hours after being sprung, Abbott heads to Danvers’ house to kill the detective’s wife (Kyra Zagorsky in a charming but shortlived performance). To get revenge — and this is where it really gets dumb — Danvers murders Abbott’s brother (Aleks Paunovic) and allows himself to be arrested. Somehow, Danvers knows he’ll be sent to the same prison as Abbott (doubtful) and placed with the general population (really doubtful).

You would think there would be an easier way to kill Abbott. Like maybe just shooting him in the head when he was kneeling over Danvers’ dead wife in Danvers’ house. Guess the movie would have been shorter though. Behind the wall, Danvers is subject to the whims of the evil (of course) warden, Snyder, played in an annoyingly eccentric performance by Michael Eklund (BATES HOTEL).

Content to settle for a generic direct-to-video action movie, the Soskas squandered an opportunity to do more with Cain’s character, a nice guy and good cop who goes to some really dark and bad places. To be fair, WWE probably didn’t want a dramatic character study, but based on his work here, Cain might have been up for the heavy lifting. Instead, VENDETTA is a competent yet thoroughly unpleasant series of face punches and stabs in the gut without joy or purpose.

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