Cast: Olivia Wilde, Morgan Spector, Tonye Patano, Judy Marte
Director: Sarah Dagger-Nickson
In an era where we’ve seen the rise of female protagonists in action-drama movies, there’s a legitimate case to be made that Olivia Wilde’s character in A Vigilante is the best one of the decade. She has an ax to grind and the proper motivation to do what she does, and even though she doesn’t have a specific background that allow her to fight the way she does, it stays within the suspension of disbelief and keeps the movie as realistic as it can be. Powered by an amazing physical and emotional performance by Wilde, A Vigilante didn’t exactly break the box office, but in an era that needs strong female heroes, Wilde’s character may be the best one yet.
The film follows Sadie (Wilde), a former victim of domestic violence who now spends her time visiting other struggling women and helping them leave that life behind by any means necessary. Throughout the 91 minute runtime, we learn more about Sadie’s past, the struggles she’s gone through, and the trauma that she still lives with as her biggest threat continues to linger on. It takes an actress of significant talent to undergo such a physical performance, and Wilde does a masterful job of embracing the intentions of the character and providing the physical presence to back it up. The way Sadie takes down these horrible men and the circumstances surrounding these interactions are all believable and her scenes all deliver a level of realism that is much needed in a movie like this. While the physical portions of the performance are impressive, the reason Wilde is so good in the role is because it is paired with an equally strong emotional performance. When we see Sadie relive her traumas in flashback scenes, we start to connect with and understand why she has such a particular passion for the work that she does. For those who have been through these struggles in their life, it will be particularly impactful to her overcome this grief and pick the outlet for her emotions that is best for her and for society in general. I think seeing Sadie dealing directly with the person who has caused her so much strife in her life will inspire others to come forward and leave their lives of abuse behind them. I don’t know a whole lot about Dagger-Nickson and her career, but the fact that she can both write and direct a tight movie that is relevant to today’s social climate and is exciting as a standalone dramatic movie shows that she has a very bright future ahead of her. On the other side of things, Wilde is quickly establishing herself as a premiere movie star and her time as a director has shown us she’s ready to take on any role or opportunity in the future. A brilliant combination of dramatic realism and physical intensity, A Vigilante takes advantage of the few opportunities it was given and makes the absolute most out of everything presented to it.
Overall, for a movie that premiered at 2018’s SXSW Festival and waited over a year to get a premiere, I’m very surprised just how impressive this movie truly was. There’s absolutely a widespread audience for a movie like A Vigilante, but I guess MoviePass decided it would be better off by just sending it straight to streaming services. While not the overwhelming financial success that it may have hoped to have been, A Vigilante proves that a combination of starpower and a reason to be made are key components to the overall quality of any movie and this movie has the fortune of maintaining both.
Overall Score: 7.5/10