Reviewed by Rama Gaind.
Writer/director: Sarah Daggar-Nicksonré, Defiant Screen Entertainment.
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Morgan Spector, Kyle Catlett, Tonye Patano, Chuck Cooper.
This is a thriller motivated by the courage and potency of real domestic abuse survivors, and the incredible safety obstacles faced by them along the way.
A Vigilante is imposing because of the remarkable lead character portrayal by Wilde (Tron: Legacy, House) in the role as Sadie, once-abused woman who devotes herself to eliminating victims of their domestic abusers. After escaping her violent husband, Sadie finds new strength in a mission to help those who can’t help themselves. All the while, she is hunting down the husband she must kill to really be free.
Meanwhile, she works for hire, helping women, men and children escape abusive homes. She struggles with money, asking for food or cash, whatever they can afford.
The final confrontation with her husband (Spector) is a cat-and-mouse game, but justice is done. When police get to investigating, his criminal record is his undoing.
As the protagonist, Wilde portrays the essence of the pain suffered by her character, and she gives an impressive performance. The film both overwhelms and manages optimism. If you subscribe to the simplistic view that abused women should “just leave”, then this is recommended viewing for you.
Some feel that vigilantism is a ‘questionable fantasy of empowerment’, but this drama works because Daggar-Nickson keeps things convincingly low-key, yet serious. That’s primarily because Wilde – as the anti-hero and the registered violence – are not overly effusive.
Wilde’s emotions tug at the heartstrings, especially when she talks about her young son, who was killed by his father in a fit of rage. After watching A Vigilante, you are able to tap into the awareness it brings, and the believable journey that Wilde takes you on to make it satisfying viewing.