Movie Review: ‘Vengeance’

By: 
John Thomas
ASHTON KUTCHER and B.J. Novak in Vengeance.

Boys’ night out. The two “bros” are male bonding over drinks at a bar with stunning views of Manhattan. One is bragging about his many female conquests, including a time when there were six at once.

All’s well until Ben’s (B. J. Novak) mobile phone rings. He answers it to hear a sobbing man at the other end. Choking back tears, Ty (Boyd Holbrook) is calling Ben to say that his sister and Ben’s favorite “girlfriend” has just died of a drug overdose. Ben must travel to Abilene, Texas, to be with her family at the funeral.

Ben scarcely remembers meeting Abby, but because of Ty’s pleading, agrees to travel to Texas. Ty also suggests Abby was murdered – she didn’t use drugs.

After the funeral, the family sits around their dining table and lament their loss while attempting to convince Ben to help find the truth about Abby’s murder. “She talked about you all the time and never used drugs, she was killed,” they bemoan. Ben won’t have anything to do with vengeance, but as a successful podcaster, he does have investigative skills.

Ben’s podcast producer feels there might be a story here, so suggests Ben remain in Abilene and create/record a story. The investigation begins. His first stop is the scene of the crime. There is little for young persons to do in Abilene, but party.

The landscape is as bleak as the town. Even video games, texting and zooming offer little relief from the boredom of everyday life. They all look forward to the next party and “the afterparty” – the scene of Abby’s death. Parties begin as they usually do, but eventually the party-goers move to a very remote part of the desert dubbed the afterparty. Abby’s death is not the first one there, rather it is the scene of numerous other deaths.

Ben next visits a prominent drug dealer, the main suspect in Abby’s death. This is the person Ty wants to use to avenge his sister’s death. Luckily for the drug dealer, he has video evidence that he was is Tulsa at the time of her death. He is no longer considered a suspect although he continues to deal drugs. Quentin Sellers (Ashton Kutcher) is next on Ben’s list. Quentin is an eccentric music producer living on an expansive ranch some distance from town.

His music compound is filled with young people fulfilling their dreams to become rock stars as they lounge around the pool and wander aimlessly in and out of recording studios.

Yes, Quentin knew Abby. She had made recordings here; Quentin offers Ben one of them. Luckily for Ben, there will soon be a party and an afterparty. He will have a first-hand glimpse at what they’re like. The four law enforcement agencies responsible for the area shift responsibility from one to another. Ben has no luck speaking with any of them.

The remaining clues Ben hopes to find are contained in Abby’s passcode-protected phone for which he doesn’t have the code. Inadvertently Abby’s younger brother mumbles something about a secret code the two used to communicate with one another. He also mentions 1435 as part of their code. It’s also her phone passcode.

Ben unlocks her phone and reads texts and listens to messages. He now knows the truth and rushes out the door with a borrowed gun in his hand.

Should See for a well-told story with interesting twists and turns in the plot.

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