Review: Dull thriller 'Vanquish' conquers Morgan Freeman, Ruby Rose

Freeman plays a dirty ex-cop in aimless action movie that for sure will rank among year's lamest

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

It's oddly fitting the way Morgan Freeman sleepwalks his way through "Vanquish," since the entire production seems to unfold in a dreary, slow motion haze. 

Sluggish is more like it. This action thriller's energy never rises above a light jog; at one point there's a curling match on in the background of a scene, and it's more urgent than anything else on screen. Not even a third of the way through the year, it's tough to imagine it not being among 2021's worst films. 

Morgan Freeman in "Vanquish."

Freeman plays Damon, a dirty ex-cop who was a one-time hero on the force. Now he runs several illicit gambling and drug rings, and it's payday. Or paynight, as it were: all of "Vanquish" unfolds over the course of a single evening that seems to start around 1 a.m. and crawls until sunrise. 

Rather than hitting the five drops himself, in his place Damon sends his in-home caregiver Victoria (Ruby Rose), who just so happens to be a former Russian drug courier. In order to get her to do the job, Damon kidnaps Victoria's daughter, although the kidnapping never seems to matter a whole lot to either party. 

It's just one of the many clunky aspects of "Vanquish," which was co-written and directed by George Gallo ("Trouble in Paradise") and filmed during the pandemic. That's why when Victoria is sent to a German nightclub to pick up a duffle bag of cash there's about two patrons inside. Even the chase scenes are socially distanced.  

Everything about "Vanquish" feels off: the stiff performances, the flat action scenes, the total lack of consequences for anyone's actions. Why does any of this matter? Here's a secret: it doesn't. "Vanquish" thoroughly defeats itself. 



Rated R: for bloody violence, language, some sexual material and drug use

Running time: 94 minutes

In theaters