Bound to Vengeance review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Eve (Tina Ivlev) is an average 20-something girl that is kidnapped and chained in a basement, only to escape when her kidnapper Phil (Richard Tyson) doesn’t notice the blunt object hidden in her hand. The good news is that this scene opens the movie so the audience is not overly repulsed or bored by another woman in captivity thriller. The bad news is that once the woman escapes, the movie has to struggle to find something more to do. And the constant pummeling of women is the least of this picture’s terrible time filler.
After Eve is freed, she decides to go on a quest to locate and free all of Phil’s female victims he has strategically locked away across an entire county. Instead of bringing Phil to the police, she decides to keep on a lease and lugs him around town in a van to point out the spots. She stupidly makes this decision on the basis that Phil won’t talk if he is turned in. Consumed with rage and blinded by revenge, Eve believes she can be the triumphant hero by discovering these trapped women and setting them free. But she doesn’t quite think through her strategy as the women that are held for far longer react differently towards their liberator. One woman believes she is being replaced and decides to kill Eve. Another finds herself in such a panic at being freed she accidentally kills herself by tripping on sharp pipes.
There could have been something more to explore with the behavior of women being held in captivity by psychopaths that reshape their mental landscape. Sadly, it’s mostly just window dressing for a picture that plays as a mix between female empowerment and sleazy thriller writing. The movie begins with Eve already kidnapped and the mystery slowly revealing itself. But as the layers start to peel back, the story becomes even more ridiculous. The twists and developments are so absurd (almost comical) that it makes the saga of the Saw horror series seem intelligently intricate. Phil isn’t just some weird guy who obsesses over a handful of women; he maintains a stable of women held in various places and tortured in various ways. Either he’s training his own private army of crazy ladies or he has way too much time on his hands. Or it’s just bad thriller writing. And, judging by the third act twist of revealing who’s in on Phil’s plan, I’m inclined to place blame on the script.
Despite those gigantic pitfalls, there is some decent acting to prevent this whole farce from being a complete train wreck. As a female avenger, Tina Ivlev is not too shabby as the determined Eve. Richard Tyson is just as strong as the sadistic Phil the way he plays up the collected and panicked nature. But there isn’t much time to develop anything meaningful or understanding of their characters. When Phil isn’t strangling Eve, it’s Eve who is strangling Phil. Sometimes Eve has the upper hand by threatening Phil’s family and sometimes Phil can threaten not to reveal where the rest of the girls are hidden. Eve, Phil and the victims all shout back at each other. “Just shoot him!” “Tell me where the girls are!” “I won’t tell you if you kill me!” Louder and louder they continue to bicker amid baffling and unpleasant violence. Perhaps if it’s loud enough we won’t notice the convoluted plot that really stretches your suspension of disbelief to maximum.
Bound to Vengeance tries to be gritty and empowering, but ends up spinning a ludicrous thriller that piles on the plot holes with its twisty logic. It certainly is original and it will no doubt shock its audience, but probably not for its intended purpose. In its dance to convey an entertaining thriller around the subject of female torture and kidnapping, it steps fairly hard on a few toes to craft its story. How capable can your script be when a female victim has to accidentally trip and kill herself to keep the scenario going?