ByBenjamin Marlatt, writer at

Mason Danvers (Dean Cain) is a hard-nosed detective with a loving wife and a baby on the way. Though he finally has caught his criminal arch-nemesis Victor Abbott (Paul “The Big Show” Wight), a key witness failing to testify leads to Abbott being released. Once released, he gets revenge on Det. Danvers by murdering his pregnant wife.

Determined to get payback on Abbott, Danvers plans on deliberately getting arrested by killing Abbot’s brother Griffin (Aleks Paunovic). When finally locked away inside the slammer, he’ll do whatever it takes to bring down the man that murdered his beloved wife.

Vendetta is the next offering from WWE Studios – the production company behind See No Evil, The Marine, The Condemned, 12 Rounds, and, as indescribably shocking as it sounds, three Marine sequels.

If there was ever a film that absolutely deserved a franchise…

There’s nothing to expect with these kinds of films. It’s WWE, so expect the same adrenaline-pumping machismo that we’ve gotten in the rest of their films. To be fair, you get exactly what the their film trailers promise, but save a few exceptions (The Rundown’s a fun action flick, and The Call was on its way to being a solid thriller before its dopey ending derailed it), the results are obviously poor.

So once again it’s bone-crunching, blood-splattering go time. Another lead hero experiences some form of personal tragedy, and plans on revenge – usually set to some Rage Against the Machine knockoff soundtrack. And if you ain’t rocking a rock-hard, flag at full mast, Vince McMahon saluting hard-on upon witnessing the glorious sight of shirtless, sweaty, vein-popping man on man assault action, then you can just keep on drinking your Cosmopolitans, pinky out obviously, at your Cyndi Lauper themed coming out party, you pussy!

No surprise, Vendetta is utter cheese, and the performances, for the most part, are at a level of cheese that can be best described as stinky Limburger. Intimidation here is achieved not by the presence of a genuine threat, but by just how loud the actors can shout their lines, grit their teeth or huff and puff like they’re experiencing one hell of an angry heart murmur while staring intently at their enemy hard enough to twist a steel beam into a pretzel with their mind.

Yet this actually isn’t that bad. By “that bad”, I should clarify that this isn’t a good film; it’s just not as bad as I was expecting a WWE film starring Dean Cain and The Big Show to be. Credit mainly goes to twin sibling filmmakers Jen and Sylvia Soska. Known for their visceral horror films (though imperfect, American Mary is bloody, twisted fun), the Soska sisters have an energetic filmmaking style that gives a few of the fight scenes a good deal of punch. The choreography isn’t elaborate; this isn’t Kung Fu Hustle we’re talking here, and the energy quickly dies down whenever the dopey plot centering on the criminal ring conspiracy – a needless attempt to make the story twistier than it really is – sneaks its way back into the film. But knowing WWE’s streak of boring, lifeless action films, the Soskas provide just enough life to the proceedings here to ever so slightly elevate this above a good majority of WWE’s crap-tastic, oftentimes unintentionally funny, offerings.

Not saying much, but whatever.

Also, Dean Cain is surprisingly decent as the lead protagonist. Granted, it’s shouldn’t be that hard to look good opposite The Big Show – yet another WWE acting casualty that proves Dwayne Johnson truly has to be lightning caught in a bottle – but as I said, the script is utter cheese, and not the “in on the joke” sorta way. It’s hard to imagine even the greatest method actors to ever grace the screen being able to keep a straight face throughout this, so I gotta give him his due for putting in an earnest effort that’s fairly believable, a task that’s not so easy to achieve.

But what ultimately drags the film down are the villains. The film’s plot is a good ole helping of a whole lotta nothing, which gives Big Show and his gang a bit of liberty to ham it up, yet they’re all flat (give Big Show his props for making even the worst of the extras look like Oscar royalty).

Simply shouting, staring angrily and making everything into a dick measuring contest all the time doesn’t always equate over-the-top fun.

The one who does ham it up is the one you’d expect to bring just a little bit of subtlety and that’s Michael Eklund (sporting something close to Gary Oldman’s hairdo from The Fifth Element) as the obligatory evil warden. Eklund’s hammy turn can best be described as Benedict Cumberbatch if he got liquored up and did a scene-by-scene reenactment of Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood. It’d be forgivable and even expected if Justin Shady’s script didn’t contain a half-hearted mystery of who the real ringleader of Abbott’s crime ring actually is, which isn’t much of a mystery since Eklund makes no effort at all to conceal his character’s true weaselly colors. So what’s the point then?

Vendetta isn’t as bad as you’d think it’d be, and I guess congrats to the film should be in order for having me roll my eyes much less than the usual WWE flick has been guilty of doing; my eyes appreciate the break. Yet despite the Soska sisters’ efforts to liven things up with some energetic fight scenes, and a solid enough performance from Dean Cain, it’s still a mostly forgettable film that lacks the consistent energy needed to make this an effective B-movie.

I give Vendetta a C- (★★).

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