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DVD Movie Review: L.A. Vengeance

By Thom Compton 12.03.2018

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L.A. Vengeance (UK Rating: 15)

Bruce Willis stars in L.A. Vengeance, or Once Upon a Time in Venice in the States, as Steven Ford. You would be forgiven for having to wipe the residue off your mouth after having said that. It's got all the stickiness of a wad of Copenhagen dip, except instead of nicotine, you get high octane action. Okay, not really, but what you get is a decent comedy that only sages thanks to its willingness to occasionally get lazy. L.A. Vengeance is available now via Thunderbird Releasing.

Steven Ford spends his days as a private detective, alongside his partner John, played by Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley). The cases they take send them around Venice Beach, and occasionally into harm's way, although it's always just a tad bit silly when it does. They aren't out trying to save the president's daughter, or stop a drug cartel that's killing little old women on their way out of the local Stop and Go gas station. No, the big case is trying to get someone to stop spraying obscene graffiti on the side of a hotel owned by one Lew the Jew.

Apparently it's not an offence, as Lew, played by Adam Goldberg, even calls himself that. A lot of the film's humour comes from its brazen disregard for stereotypes or sensitivity. Jason Momoa, of Khal Drogo and Aquaman fame, plays a large Latino gang banger named Spyder. It's important to point out he's Latino only because he does everything in his power to convey that. With his thick accent and his love for the word "Homes," it is clear the filmmakers want you to know he's Hispanic.


 
Couple this with a hotel of transgender sex workers who eventually become a gauntlet for which Steven must escape (lest he be beaten to a pulp), and there is a long list of playing to clichés for some cheap, but scant laughs. One of the big bits with Spyder is how in touch with his feelings and reasonable he can be. Not every character is portrayed in this fashion, such as Prince or Yuri, but they also make up a very small portion of the film.

What's sad is that this does have moments where it's funny. While Middleditch mostly plays a bog standard hipster, John Goodman (Atomic Blonde)'s portrayal as Dave, Steven's best friend, is genuinely hilarious. Steven even has moments of being likeable and hilarious. The central plot involves him trying to locate his dog, and in general most of his work is remarkably silly. It's nice, because the film never takes itself too seriously. Unfortunately, this leads to some segments that feel like cheap comedy instead of anything genuine or, at the very least, goofy enough to be funny.

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

If it weren't for the many cringe-worthy attempts to avoid being PC, L.A. Vengeance would nail what it's aiming for. Now, there's nothing wrong with being purposely offensive, but it only really works if the jokes are good, and here, they largely aren't. It's when L.A. Vengeance embraces how ridiculous it is that it manages to feel like it's going somewhere. Fortunately, by the end, it's a decent comedy only marred by the moments where it doesn't feel quite as charming.

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