Distributor: Entertainment One
BBFC Classification: 15
Director: Logan Miller
Starring: Ed Harris, January Jones, Jason Isaacs, Eduardo Noriega, Logan Miller, Noah Miller
Sweet Vengeance (a.k.a. Sweetwater) is a Western set in the 1800s and concerns struggling newlyweds Miguel (Edwardo Noriega – The Last Stand) and Sarah (January Jones – X-Men: First Class) who have come under the eye of the self-proclaimed Prophet Josiah (Jason Isaacs – The Patriot), a religious zealot who believes that the land belongs to God and he is God’s instrument on Earth so therefore all the land and everything in it is his. At the same time, the eccentric Sheriff Jackson (Ed Harris – Creepshow/Knightriders) arrives in town investigating the disappearance of two unfortunate fellows who had an earlier confrontation with Josiah and, as events unfold and Josiah’s brutality increases, Sarah is forced to take matters into her own hands in a vengeful bloodbath against everyone who has wronged her.
Directed by Logan Miller and written by his twin brother Noah, Sweet Vengeance is a confident and twisting film that when broken down into its individual parts may not be very original but it is put together in such a way that you don’t always second-guess what’s going to happen. Much of that unpredictable feeling is down to a wonderful performance from Ed Harris as Sheriff Jackson, a rather unconventional gentleman who likes to dance around to street musicians and doesn’t really give two hoots for any authority except his own.
Which is an excellent mirror image of Jason Isaac’s Josiah, who also cares very little for anyone else’s rules except his own but his methods are a little more extreme and not quite so unpredictable. Reminiscent of Daniel Day-Lewis’ Daniel Plainview character from There Will Be Blood mixed with Isaac the child preacher from Children of the Corn, Josiah is a great screen villain and Jason Isaacs plays him with just the right amount of chilling calmness and understated righteous anger.
But in the middle of Josiah and Jackson’s battle of wills – which produces some brilliantly written Columbo-esque lines of questioning – is Sarah and her quest for vengeance, hence the title. January Jones makes a convincing female vigilante and has some memorable scenes, although her transition from wronged innocent to Death Wish-style anti-hero could have done with a bit more fleshing out.
So overall, Sweet Vengeance is terrific fun. Maybe that’s an odd description of a film where people get brutally raped and murdered but this is violence in an almost comic-book style; there is a brilliant scene involving a pistol, a peeping Tom with his trousers down and Ed Harris performing an on-the-street autopsy with his pocket knife which is as amusing as it is disgusting. Slickly directed, well-written and superbly acted, it is 90 minutes of great entertainment that may upset a few Western purists but so what? It’s marvellous.
Special Features: The Making of Sweet Vengeance featurette.
UK Release Date: 3rd June 2013