Do Revenge Review
Do Revenge hits Netflix on Friday, Sept. 16.
A muddled mix of '90s teen flicks, curated for a new generation (with a Hitchcock premise swirled in), Do Revenge is a lukewarm high school vengeance tale that never settles on a tone and is barren when it comes to laughs. It's third act retroactively explains why the first two feel so scatterbrained but it's not enough to pull the story together. That leaves us with an unsatisfying finish and a film that has way too many disjointed ideas floating about.
From Sweet/Vicious creator (and Thor: Love and Thunder co-writer) Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, Do Revenge wants to wield the adult edgy blade of a Cruel Intentions (Sarah Michelle Gellar even cameos as the school's headmaster) while still playing things for Clueless-level fun. It's set at a posh school for the ultra wealthy and asks a great deal of us when it comes to investing in the troubles and turmoils of the preposterously privileged.
Do Revenge Gallery
One of the movie's co-leads is supposedly not rich at all, but we barely get a taste of her home life or experience her outside of a fantastically pristine existence. So there are definitely sympathy struggles afoot, even though some of these contradictory elements get called out following a late-in-the-game twist.
Riverdale's Camila Mendes and Stranger Things' Maya Hawke star as Drea and Eleanor, two seniors who agree to ruin the lives of the others' tormentor. For Mendes' Drea, it's an ex-boyfriend (a particularly punchable Austin Abrams) who she thinks leaked a sexy video she sent him privately. For Hawke's Eleanor, it's a girl who long ago accused her of making an unwelcome pass at her and got her labeled as a queer predator. The film, though, is somewhat lax with this set up since even before Drea and Eleanor meet, Drea outright obliterates the life of someone else who wronged her (Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner in brief role), making it seem like she's more than capable of handling her own revenging.
A big issue here is that things aren't supposed to make all that much sense for a large run of the story because everything's nurturing the aforementioned twist. Granted, this big upheaval is the most inspired and entertaining part of the movie, but it sort of means the bulk of the picture has to suffer because of it. Mendes and Hawke are both fun here, but there's a definitely a tighter movie hidden somewhere inside this (kind of Netflix's M.O.) and there's a better setting to use for this comeuppance caper.
The best through line in Do Revenge isn't the revenge aspect; it's the unlikely friendship formed by Drea and Eleanor.“
The messaging here, buried within the popspeak, runs the gamut of how everyone's hurt someone at some point to rich people using others' tragedy to bolster their own image to how most sex scandals only damage the women involved, never the men, but it's hard for any of this to fully resonate in the midst of these teenagers' luxurious lives -- lives where if if one's "ruined," there's a soft cushion of cash to fall back on. Again. Drea supposedly doesn't come from this life but there's hardly a moment where she doesn't act like she does.
The best through line in Do Revenge isn't the revenge aspect; it's the unlikely friendship formed by Drea and Eleanor, which itself turns a cliche or two upside-down. Drea is the fancy girl who isn't rich while Eleanor is the awkward, shy transfer student who, like everyone else at the school, comes from a ton of money. That element was worth exploring a bit more, while also being one of a dozen ideas this movie couldn't settle on.
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This story originally appeared on: IGN - Author:Matt Fowler