We all love our pets and I’m sure most of us would do everything in our power to protect them. Some films have tapped into this like Brian Cox thriller Red which sees the Scottish star play a widow who seeks vengeance after his pet dog is murdered by obnoxious teens. Joining Red is Chadd Harbold’s Revenge For Jolly which serves up its vengeance slightly more brutally than the its thematic predecessor.
Revenge For Jolly follows young criminal Harry (Brian Petsos) who messes with the wrong people and returns home from a night of drinking with buddy Cecil (Oscar Isaac) to find that his beloved pet dog has been murdered. The pair embark on a bloody-thirsty crusade to get revenge for the death of the departed pooch.
Revenge For Jolly has all the trappings of classic exploitation fare – seen through its themes of vengeance (all executed with gory violence), black comedy and various B-Movie trappings. Chuck in a batch of likeable character actors – Elijah Wood, Kristen Wiig, David Rasche and Ryan Phillippe – and you have what should be a modern cult classic. Well, not exactly.
There are a few flaws – none too drastic, but enough to moderately hamper your enjoyment of Revenge For Jolly. Petsos’s lead character is not particularly watchable – there is no real magnetism or charisma there. Understandably this is a man that is in mourning for his dog – but this makes for a one-dimensional protagonist who we feel nothing for. The narrative also loses its punch as proceedings go on. Whilst it begins as a sharp and focused little revenge thriller, things become tiresome by the hour mark which sees Harry and Cecil crash a bizarre wedding – presided over by sleazy bride, Kristen Wiig. Fortunately a visceral shoot-out perks things up towards the end of the wedding segment.
However, there is much to enjoy here. Oscar Isaac’s lead turn is thoroughly impressive – there is a real cynicism to his performance and he does well as the “I don’t give a fuck” type of character. Harbold doesn’t pull any punches in terms of violence, with the director taking a real ballsy ultra-violent approach which keeps things highly-charged and always gratuitously watchable. The simplistic aim of Revenge For Jolly (which may sacrifice character depth), helps pack the film with a nostalgic quality reminiscent of classic seventies exploitation pictures that were squarely focussed on revenge and bad guys getting their just deserts.
Plus another bonus comes in the form of Ryan Phillippe who is on hand to prove that he even looks astonishingly gorgeous with a dodgy moustache.
Revenge For Jolly is a solid watch that essentially does what it promises – gets revenge for Jolly. It may lack depth and lose track towards the conclusion, but remains an entertaining watch throughout. Visceral action and homage to the classic world of exploitation cinema, as well as spirited performances from Isaac and the supporting cast makes this a perfectly satisfying watch.