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Revenge

REVENGE is a 1990 film directed by the late Tony Scott. REVENGE is called REVENGE because it’s based on a novella called Revenge (by Jim Harrison) and because both are partly about revenge. But don’t let the stripped down title lead you to expect a pure revenge tale. Or at least not one that’s in a hurry to get to the revenge part.

I don’t remember ever hearing of this movie at the time but I know a couple people who swear by it. Now that I’ve seen it I think it’s one of Scott’s best pictures. It’s got beautiful cinematography of sunsets and beaches and shit, and the opening has TOP GUN style fighter jet footage (I kinda wish this was TOP GUN 2: REVENGE OF TOP GUN), but I still never would’ve guess it was a Tony Scott joint. It’s very quiet and deliberately paced, no pop music soundtrack, not hyperactive, almost more Ridley-esque. That might not be the case in the 20-minutes-shorter director’s cut which came out a few years ago, but I took some people’s advice to stick with the theatrical. Sorry Tony Scott.

Kevin Costner plays Jay Cochran, a hot shit Navy fighter pilot who hangs up his, you know, plane and goes on a vacation to Mexico. He’s got this rich friend named Tibey (Anthony Quinn), an older guy who he apparently saved the life of on a hunting trip one time, and he takes him up on an offer to come visit. Jay’s buddy back home refers to Tibey as a “warlord,” and since Tibey has a bunch of pushy, gun-carrying bodyguard type guys in sunglasses you get a bad feeling about this right away. Also he has a bad enough temper to pick up a large dog by its skin and toss it in a swimming pool right in front of his guest. But otherwise he seems like a really nice guy, and I mean that.

Now, let me mention one other factor, I think you’ll be able to see what the significance is. Tibey has a smokin hot younger wife named Miryea (Madeleine Stowe) who seems a little distant from him. But she seems to take well to Jay.

You see what I mean? Can you sort of guess what type of situation might happen there, with those characters? The husband is older, the wife is younger, she doesn’t seem to like him that much, she does seem to like Kevin Costner… in my opinion there is a direction that these relationships could possibly go in that would cause a dramatic conflict that might happen in a movie like this. You know?

If that doesn’t help you to figure out what I’m getting at I will just say that Miryea has a vagina and Jay has a penis and there are ways those two facts could come into play, specifically through physical contact. I think you know what I mean. If not let me show you a diagram.

SPOILER IN DIAGRAM

Left: Kevin Costner as Jay Cochran. Right: Madelein Stowe as Miryea, his dangerous warlord friend’s wife.

END OF DIAGRAM SPOILER

So yes, he’s gonna do the thing pictured above, but only after wincing and trying not to for a while. And knowing he shouldn’t do it. And still staying around.

I mean, I kept yelling at my screen: get out of there, Kevin Costner! You’re making a mistake, Kevin Costner! He called up his friend. Look buddy, see, I think I’m in love with the wife of the dangerous criminal who you told me I should never even fucking visit, what do you think I should do, old pal? His buddy says Kevin Costner, get the fuck out of there immediately. The call is coming from inside your pants.

Yes, in the tradition of MATCH POINT this is a movie that could also be called KEEP YOUR DICK IN YOUR PANTS. Or another good one would be WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU THINK WAS GONNA HAPPEN?

Because yes, after (SEE DIAGRAM) during a party and then later at his cabin and then in a Jeep while driving and then in a different cabin with lots of candles Jay and Miryea learn that yes, in fact what you would assume would happen, what Jay’s friend warned him would happen, what I warned him would happen when he fucks Tibey’s wife, does indeed happen. Jay gets beaten almost to death and honestly I didn’t feel too bad for him. What Tibey does to Miryea, though, is in my opinion in poor taste. But again, what did you expect, Kevin Costner? This is Tibey.

This is a slow burn movie, that’s what I like about it. It’s a two hour movie and the shit doesn’t pop off until more than an hour in. Before that it’s kind of this romance, but there’s all this tension from the very beginning. Tibey’s right hand man Cesar (Tomas Milian) scolds Jay for not being on time, he tells him he doesn’t work for Tibey so he can get there when he wants to. Tibey tries to get him to stay on his property, but he wisely refuses. He plays tennis with Tibey and gets competitive about it even though these guys they’re playing against are probly other dangerous drug lords and shit. He just has this attitude that he’s a guest there, he’s not part of their world, he’s gonna be himself, but he keeps stepping all over the protocol. If Tibey didn’t stand up for him he’d probly be dead or at least have his legs broken, and he doesn’t seem to pick up on this.

Jay has a dog named Rocky who he brings along on the trip, does dumb little tricks with, brings out on the beach to play and stuff. In one of the more vicious points in the movie SPOILER Tibey and friends kick the door in on the cabin and blow Rocky away. I do feel bad for Rocky because he was innocent, he wasn’t fuckin Tibey’s dog or anything. And from the way the poor pooch looked at Jay I figured he didn’t approve of the behavior either. But I think Tibey is coming from a point of view that this dog was around, he had to have known about the affair, ethically he should’ve intervened or tipped Tibey off to what was going on. He did neither, so he faces the consequences. Pretty harsh.

In the second half the movie kinda turns into a western. He’s left bloody and half dead out in the middle of nowhere, a rural Mexican couple scoop him up and nurse him back to health using methods that involve wrapping a necklace of teeth around his foot. Once he’s better he’s not even specifically on a mission of revenge, he just wants to find Miryea, but he hooks up with two cousins (Miguel Ferrer and a pre-DIE HARD 2 John Leguizamo) who owe Tibey some revenge and work as an underground network to aid Jay in finding him. It starts to feel a little mythic as Jay seems to coincidentally run into every person involved in his beating and Punisher them. No, not punishment. Revenge.

Quinn is great, and very likable despite being, you know, horrible. I have to admit I liked Tibey better than Jay. He’s a bad man, but in this specific situation he’s the wronged party.

In my opinion the ending makes the movie, so I’m gonna have to go all out SPOILER in these last paragraphs to sing its praises. If you’ve seen it you know it: Jay gets Tibey at gunpoint, Tibey pulls out his gun too, they could kill each other. Tibey regretfully says, “Perhaps we both deserve to die.” But then he lowers his gun and says, “I ask you as a man, and as a former friend, to ask my forgiveness for taking my wife.” And Jay does it. And then lets him go.

I love this! Tibey is obviously a bad person, he’s a murderer. But he’s acted honorably toward Jay the entire time. His friendship was not an evil front, it was genuine. He’s even wearing the fighter pilot jacket that Jay gave to him! That’s what he chose to go riding in, despite everything that’s gone down. He’s the one that got screwed over, not just by infidelity but by a disloyal friend. They both know this, so they leave it at that. Look, maybe I went overboard slashing her face, drugging her and forcing her to work at a whorehouse. But also you shouldn’t have betrayed me. Call it even. Here, I’ll tell you where she’s at, dying of AIDS. You can go find her.

And I like how it ties in with what Jay said about his time in Vietnam. He decided that was a war about killing when you didn’t mean to, now he means to kill somebody but ends up not doing it. So maybe he learned something.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 at 2:26 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Romance. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

34 Responses to “Revenge”

  1. I actually kind of hate endings like that because it’s all about calling the audience an asshole for no good reason. “You want to see the bad guy get killed? What are you, some kind of monster? No, the bad guy’s going to go free or something. Why? Because being a good guy means taking the high road, unlike some people I know.”

  2. Shit man, that diagram. I’m glad I didn’t drink anything or otherwise I would have spit it out all over my TV (which is my computer monitor).

  3. Eddie, I didn’t see this as that type of ending. I didn’t want to see Jay kill Tibey. It was way more satisfying to see him apologize. It becomes more about their friendship than their conflict. I guess that’s another good title for it: FRIENDSHIP.

  4. I’ve been curious about this one since Quentin lobbied for it quite hard on his TRUE ROMANCE commentary, and was even heard to say in a recent Q&A with Richard Kelly that he felt his movie was as much an homage to REVENGE as DOMINO was to TR. Not sure which version you saw Vern, but I read that the director’s cut is actually shorter than the theatrical version.

  5. Funny, Madeleine Stowe is currently in a TV show called Revenge. I hear it isn’t very good, though. Probably because it doesn’t have Kevin Costner.

    I’m still kinda sad that he isn’t in Tarantino’s new movie. That guy is so ready for a major comeback.

  6. Also, I don’t get that diagram. The penis goes INSIDE the vagina?

    And what’s that thing that retracts?

  7. I remember seing this in the cinema with some friends in 1990, and I think we all even more so than Vern felt that Jay was a really arrogant and stupid guy that got what he deserved. The Ugly American, if you will. But through the sub stories with Sally Kirkland’s rock star and especially James Gammon’s dying cowboy he kind of grew on us. Love the ending.

  8. I just saw Kevin Costner with Bill Paxton in the mini series HATFIELDS & MCCOYS. I don’t know if we can call it a comeback, but it’s good and Costner gets to ride a horse and shoot a lot – in Bulgaria.

  9. There’s something off about that diagram.

  10. JILL
    You’ve really scared me. Is that
    what you wanted?
    (beat)
    Is that what you wanted?

    DUNCAN (O.S.)
    No.

    JILL
    What do you want?

    DUNCAN (O.S.)
    Your blood… all over me.

    Pause. Jill is terrified.

    JILL
    You don’t know me. You don’t know
    who I am or where I live. I’ll get
    Dr. Mandrakis to drive me home. Him
    or the police.

    DUNCAN (O.S.)
    You’ve called the police?

    Pause. Jill searches for some way of answering him.

    JILL
    I want to talk to you.

    The line goes dead. Jill hangs up. She stands. She starts to
    shake.

    The phone rings and Jill snatches it up.

    JILL
    Leave me alone!

    SACKER (O.S.)
    Jill, this is Sergeant Sacker! Listen
    to me!
    (beat)
    We’ve traced the call. It’s coming
    from inside your pants. A squad car’s
    on its way over there now… just
    get out of those pants!

  11. Glad you dug it. Might wanna check out the Director’s Cut sometime. It’s stripped down, but still has the slow burn qualities, it just gets to the point a lil’ faster. Either way, great flick!

    “It’s not a love film, it’s a fuck film.” -Tony Scott

  12. I dunno, if your wife cheats on you, and you answer to that is slashing her face, causing permanent damage, and locking her into a brothel where she will be serial raped for a few years… You don’t come off as a very dignified man. I mean, sure, you can DIVORCE her if you want to get back at her, maybe slap her, but the other stuff kind of goes over the top.

    Basically the ending of the film makes a case that it’s okay to cut and serial-rape cheating women. No big deal. Certainly not an issue that should come between two honorable men.

  13. I like this movie, particularly Quinn, but it does have to be the smokiest of all Tony Scott movies. Every set looks like it’s on fire. Lots and lots of smoke is all I’m saying.

  14. Being a TOP GUN fan I caught this movie as soon as it hit video (wasn’t old enough to see it by myself), and man was it a case of managing your expectations. Young Bad Seed was expecting way more dogfighting and way less dogthrowing, but older Bad Seed is on Vern’s side, with this baby really aging well when you come at it from its own rules. Yes, Costner is definitely the dick in this scenario (no pun intended—shit, now that I typed it I guess it is rather intended), so I’m on Team Quinn. Vern, perhaps there’s a t-shirt to be made here by riding TWILIGHT’S coattails with some REVENGE related paraphernalia. It’ll be gold Vern, gold! Also, I’m a sucker for Miguel Ferrer; a movie almost always gets a star just by featuring him. Shit, he’s reason enough to watch DEEP STAR SIX.

    On second thought, I can’t back that up. You really don’t need to see DEEP STAR SIX, unless its on cable, and you’re bedridden, and the clicker doesn’t work, and there’s a large crocodile on the floor who hasn’t been fed for ten days, thereby preventing you from getting up and changing the channel. If this perfect storm of implausible events strikes, then yes, you may as well watch DEEP STAR SIX, and if you do, let Miguel Ferrer steer you through the brighter moments—

    (SPOILER)

    At least until he pops due to explosive decompression.

  15. REVENGE-Theatrical Cut sure is a great movie. The title is a bit misleading, but its a movie made for adults.I remember reading a complaint from someone expecting more explosions and violence from this movie and gave it a shitrating because of it. The irony of it is if the movie would have gone doen that path it probably might have been given a shitrating from most people. Its kind of a forgotten movie of Tony Scotts filmography, but time has proven its value. I love this movie.

  16. And this comes from a man (ShootMcKay) that now has the toughest Swede ever – Johan Falk – as an avatar!

  17. That diagram… there are some deeply incorrect angles there, man.

  18. pegsman- I wish that LIVVAKTERNA had a much more exciting english title than EXECUTIVE PROTECTION. it sounds like a 90´s b-action movie starring Thomas Ian Griffith. Don´t get me wrong. I love that guy. But the movie is so much better than its asonine english title. Kind like a swedish SEVEN SAMURAI. It has some similarities. I love those earmufflers he wears that seperates and drowns out specific sounds. Its a great idea I never seen before in an action-movie.

  19. Okay, I’ve been wondering this for a long time–what are the differences between the two cuts and why is the theatrical better?

  20. Well, it cuts out a lot of great character moments. I for one got angered about that. It´s pretty unusual for directors cuts to do that. Usually DC´s have more character moments. I really don´t understand the reasoning behind this particular cut.

  21. McKAy: Everytime I see the the Norwegian dvd cover for LIVVAKTERNA, I think I’ve discovered a new Christopher Lambert film. Maybe I should check out the movie one day?

    The original US dvd of the theatrical version of REVENGE came on a two-sided disc, with the film in widescreen on one side, and in fullscreen on the other. One fucked up day, some Sony executive douchefuck decided to make it a one-sided disc with only the fullscreen version. Without updating the product information on the variour e-tailers out there. Then one day I ordered the thing. Obviously I threw away the disc after suffering through the butchered product once. That’s why I’m more than happy with the Director’s cut. Still a “slow burn”, but with the beauty of the visuals intact. Certainly the integrity of the compositions means more than a couple of extra scenes?

    Can’t say I missed any scenes/moments when watching the DC, but then again I only ever had a passing familiarity with the theatrical cut. I have no idea why both couldn’t be included on the disc.

    REVENGE was a really hot property back in the day. The short story was first published in Playboy, was optioned for a nice sum, and was offered to many a major filmmaker before it came to Tony Scott. At one time, John Huston was set to direct, from a script by Walter Hill and David Giler. Then Huston went on to make major masterpiece THE DEAD instead, and then he died.

    When REVENGE finally came put, via Tony Scott, the movie was mainly seen as a failed adaptation of the short story; that Scott had misunderstood Jim Harrison’s work (has anyone read it, btw? I haven’t…). Producer Ray Stark was also unhappy with Scott’s take on the material, wich is why he took the film away from him, and put in many of those scenes Scott would later take out.

  22. That diagram…are they doing it up against a table? Because her legs don’t look like they’re in te right spot.

    I think we need more anatomically-correct diagrams in movie reviews. I think it would be helpful for Republicans, especially.

  23. funny that the poster says “a betrayal that cannot be forgiven,” and then the end of the movie is the one guy forgiving the other guy for the betrayal.

  24. The Original... Paul

    September 12th, 2012 at 2:00 am

    The movie… I got nothing, sorry.

    But what the FUCK happened to the clitoris?

  25. Paul, as someone said earlier, she’s in a TV series called REVENGE.

  26. Vern, it would be kinda great if you watched the directors cut also and compared the differences between the versions and if the DC actually brings something different and possibly better by being shorter and having less character scenes.
    It´s certainly the more unusual of directors cuts of it being shorter.

  27. REVENGE is a very underrated movie, it hardly was a bleep on anyone’s radar until QT started singing it’s praises. The “director’s cut” is the way to go in my opinion, it’s more taunt and every bit as tough. Costner is good, but I think Tony would have gotten more out casting Mickey Rourke, who was the original choice for TOP GUN, go figure. It is one of Scott’s top five in my book.

  28. Never seen this one, I always think of it as the one movie during Costner’s On Fire-Box Office King 87-93 period which underperformed while every other of his movies were solid to huge hits. Have to check it out sometime.

  29. Yeah, that diagram is a bit horizontal, innit? Not sure if the lady’s g-spot or clitoris is receiving any stimulation there; very sad. And her entry way should be a little lower, no?

    I’ll leave the lights on next time and get to the truth of this.

    Saw REVENGE for the first & only time a year or 2 ago and found it interesting & enjoyable, if that’s the right word. It’s a distinctly uncomfortable narrative, and Tony Scott’s excellent filmatism heightens that, draws it out in unique ways that you never see in any straight drama or action-revenge movie. Seems like no one is happy, everyone’s on edge, everyone knows they’re making poor decisions, pushing the limits of dickishness, threatening to Be Ellis to the point where someone’s gonna laugh in his/her face and then shoot it… and then what actually happens is even more violent, more gruesome, more uncomfortable than what you’d been planning in your scared imagination to that point.

    Brutal, but kind of beautiful. It’s about codes of honor among men, friends who try to be affable gents but can’t resist being competitive monsters, wife-stealers, & wife-beaters.

    Like Marcellus Wallace said, that’s pride fucking with you. In this case, the dame is the real victim. No one “achieves” revenge here.

  30. The Original... Paul

    September 15th, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Mouth – all I can say is that if that diagram is right, I’ve been doing it very, very wrong.

    Although come to think of it, that might explain some things.

    I’m off to find a woman and ask her if her clitoris is really somewhere in the vicinity of her naval…

  31. Why is everyone second guessing themselves over a diagram?
    You either know it’s her bumhole or you don’t.

  32. Wtf Did You Think Would Happen could be the title of a lot of movies, and real life. The biggest example to me is Crash (2005) when Thandie Newton mouths off to Matt Dillon. What did you think the racist cop who racial profiled you was going to do? Did you think he was going to say, “wow, you’re right, I should reevaluate my prejudices?” No, of course he’s going to molest you. That’s the only possible result of standing up to a racist cop abusing his authority.

  33. Everyone on here seems to drool over Kevin Kostner, including the “guys”. He is one of the worst actor I have ever seen on the screen – no emotion, no style, no acting skill, nothing. All he has is his face, and I am sure that has dropped by now. His performance is slightly better than Michael Moore’s except that Michael Moore is not an actor but is simply being his fat disgusting self in all his films.

    The Bodyguard – boring, The Untouchables – boring if not for Sean Connery and Andy Garcia, and Revenge made me wish that Anthony Quinn’s character would have killed him and in the first quarter of the movie.

  34. Alright, who left the key in the goddamn door over at IMDB? Another ones escaped.

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