Or: the Hitwoman and her
The past can break us, or it can make us.
TW: Violence against women, general violence, talk of child death and abuse
After escaping her violent husband, Sadie makes it her life’s mission to help free others in danger. After months of rigorous training in survival skills, boxing, and lethal martial arts, she is back with a vengeance.
Sadie is a woman on a mission. While she lives hand to mouth on whatever her clients can pay her in exchange for her services, she also deals with her own immense grief (more on that in a bit) and her own plan to reign down vengeance upon her worthless rat-bastard husband.
What she does for her clients’ varies from case to case but the end result is the same: seeing off violent, abusive men by any means necessary – and giving their victims and families a new shot at life. Following each job, she assures the women that if her phone number ever changes, she’ll let them know – just in case they need her again. They’re also allowed to pass it on in an absolute emergency but only if there’s nobody else to help. It’s all very secretive – disguises, burner phones, etc. – because vigilantes, yo. They can’t just take out a two page ad in The Argus.
As with every good vengeance movie, there’s a training montage which shows us just how hench Sadie has become. Martial arts, boxing and weight training has turned her into a machine – which all helps her overpower cowardly little turds who think nothing of beating their wives and children.
Via multiple flashbacks – including to some of her support groups with other victims – we learn that Sadie’s former husband was one of these men, and that following a botched attempt to escape, her son was killed. Sadie is overcome with grief but worse, blames herself – if she’d never tried to leave, he would still be alive.
After this incident, her husband disappeared and as a result, Sadie is waiting on an insurance claim to get on with the rest of her life. Since he’s not dead – no body – there’s no payment, you can see where this is going. Sadie is a planner though and has a decent idea of where he might be – during their marriage there’d been a lot of talk of survivalist bullshit and living ‘off the grid’.
OMG, this has nothing to do with the review – but my horrible old boyfriend used to have the same ideas – down to making me (ME!) walk round camping shops for hours at the weekends – is it Arsehole Law* that they’re into this shit? Possibly because everyone in ‘normal life’ is sick of their fucking shit. But I digress…
*I know this is a sweeping statement and I only semi mean it. Just in case anybody’s offended.
Sadie receives a call from a former client who sends her to the home of a drug addict who’s been cruelly neglecting her two children. She extracts them from the home and hands over her number, telling the eldest boy to only call if nobody will help him. Following this meeting, she’s visibly shooketh and cries in her car. Later she admits the truth of her situation to her support group (as outlined above) and returns to the family home, where she retrieves some of her son’s belongings.
By change she glances at a poster of Lake Placid on their wall and is compelled to go there… is this a random visit to a place they used to go as a family – or has she worked out where her husband is? Well, all Sadie’s hard work has to be for something and she has a Final Boss to defeat… I’ll leave the rest up to you.
Meanwhile, to my thoughts. I like this film, it takes a very harrowing and heartbreaking story and places the power back in Sadie’s hands. However, it does also pose the question: if you dedicate your life to revenge – not just your own but others’ too – what will be left of you at the end?
It’s not a new concept – it’s been asked in many films before – but it is an intriguing one. It also makes you think long and hard about how far you’d go for the ones you love. If anyone harmed a hair on Mittens’ head, I’d be on them like a shot, let me assure you. Joking aside (who’s joking?), while some things work out for our protagonist, where will it end? Can one simply dedicate a life to helping people like them – and then walk away for good?
Olivia Wilde is bloody lovely and I’m quite excited about what she pulls out of the bag next, particularly as a director. And, in the hands of it’s lead and director, Sarah Daggar-Nickson, A Vigilante is a sensitive rumination on revenge, grief and Valley of the Dolls make-up tutorials. I suspect it’s also very underrated and should probably be recommended to more people.
Rating: 3.5 shit men dispatched with out of 5 (on reflection, maybe even a 4)