First Look Pictures // 2008 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 27th, 2009
Revenge never looked so good.
A Russian woman exacts brutal revenge on some incredibly mean people. Yippee.
We meet Virgil Vadalos (Tom Berenger) while he's in the sauna and then immediately gets gutted by a pretty woman with a huge knife. Miraculously, he survives and lives to continue ruling his mob empire. See Virgil's a supreme d-bag, and he employs a whole host of d-bags.
All of these guys are somehow complicit in whatever it that has pissed off the aforementioned Russian woman. She's on a cross-city murdering spree, and her victims meet with gruesome ends. Trust me, they deserve every ounce of pain they feel.
Lots of violence, bad guys who deserve their comeuppance, and a badass femme fatale? Sure, sign me up. Those are typically the ingredients for my kind of movie, but Stiletto kind of annoyed me. It was just too over-the-top. Again, not something that would repel me -- quite the opposite -- but there was something off about all of this.
The bad guys are outrageous. Michael Biehn's character, for example, is one of the most ridiculous conceptualizations of villainy I've seen in the direct-to-DVD market. Setting aside his potty mouth, here's a dude who uses a belt sander on his victims...and he's not afraid to brutally attack women. He does get his in the end -- SPOILER WARNING -- with a lugnut wrench shoved through his head. It's a ridiculous death which in a different context would have been pretty sweet, but there is no humor here, so a far-out kill seems out of whack.
Biehn isn't the only one saddled with playing a jackass. The producers have managed to wrangle an impressive lineup of C-listers to portray the bad guys: William Forsythe, Tom Sizemore, D.B. Sweeney (the shortest of cameos and a recipient of the belt sander treatment). As much as I'd like to say they were wasted as cannon fodder, who am I kidding? Tom Sizemore, William Forsythe, and Michael Biehn impaled by a Russian hottie? Sure thing. On the other side we have our heroine. Her name is Lee and she's not terribly interesting. She's leggy, can sneer, and swing a knife real well, but her back story isn't memorable and neither is her personality.
In the end, we have a simple tale of vengeance featuring a generic protagonist with lots of eye make-up, fueled by a familiar motivator (her sister was suckered off the boat into a life of meth and whoring) knocking off really, really unlikable people. It's bloody, brutal, over-the-top and -- shockingly -- not very entertaining.
First Look has a so-so DVD for their so-so revenge saga: a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen that is a bit soft on the details and crisp 5.1 surround mix. Previews are it for extras.
I'm not feeling this one. I should, but you just can't force these things.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: First Look Pictures
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R