Blue Ruin
Five Stars (out of five). 2013. Released by Radius. Running time 91 minutes. Rate R for gore, violence and cursing. Not for children. This was reviewed on Amazon Instant Video on August 26, 2014.

Guess what I spy with my little eye? The action film genre is littered with revenge movies. You know the kind: the hero gets royally screwed over by the bad guy in some way. Either his family is killed, or they’re taken hostage for some reason, which gives the hero an excuse to unleash some holy vengeance--which is really an excuse for the viewer to enjoy some immensely cathartic sequences of intense and graphic bloodshed, which is "approved" because it’s being carried out by the good guy. Don’t get me wrong; I love these movies, I cheered Charles Bronson in his Death Wish slaughter fest flicks just like anybody else. They’re cheesy as hell, but fun to watch as long as you don’t take them seriously.

I was just asking those nice girls if they could wash my car for me. Why'd they all run off screaming? But writer/director Jeremy Saulnier did take the concept of the revenge movie very seriously, and the result is the marvelous Blue Ruin. Macon Blair plays a homeless guy named Dwight who’s living out of his car, a rusted old Pontiac Bonneville. He takes baths by breaking into people’s homes when they’re out, which is where we meet him at the beginning of the film. When the police pick him up, Dwight assumes it’s because they caught him for one of his B&Es. But the real reason the cops brought him into the station is because the man who killed Dwight’s parents has been released from prison on a technicality.

OK, let's start from the beginning again. This thing hanging down here is the trigger, right? Officer Eddy (Sidné Anderson), who’s sympathetic to Dwight’s plight, just wanted to make sure he was in a safe place when he heard the bad news. But while Dwight takes the bad news pretty well outwardly, he begins plotting his revenge on his parents’ killer the moment the cops release him. Saulnier puts his revenge story in a real-world setting, meaning that Dwight isn’t a sure shot with guns (unlike the typical action hero, who's so good with guns he kills with a single shot), in fact, a good chunk of the film shows Dwight struggling just to find a gun, until--after much frustration--he resorts to using a knife.

Vengeanceis mine...I think! Macon Blair plays Dwight as a sad sack dweeb who never really got over the death of his parents. He doesn’t really have a firm handle on this revenge business--and watching him work out the details is what makes Blue Ruin so fascinating to watch. When he gets stabbed in the leg with an arrow, Dwight tries to cut out the arrowhead himself, but Saulnier turns this action-movie trope on its head by having Dwight run into more problems. Despite the disastrous manner in which Dwight fumbles through his vengeance, you still can’t help but get caught up in it. And the fact that Blue Ruin remains so thrilling without resorting to action movie clichés makes it all the more fantastic. Don’t miss it. --SF

Main Review Page | Thriller Page | Email Me |