“A Vigilante” overcomes storytelling problems to combat a serious issue

James Preston Poole

In a time where abuses of various kinds against women dominate the headlines, there’s something appealing about the concept of a “A Vigilante”

Said concept follows Sadie (Olivia Wilde), a vigilante who specializes in taking vengeance on domestic abusers. We know next to nothing about her past for much of the film, except that she suffered from horrific abuse in her past. Somehow, this doesn’t make her any less compelling, and that’s due to a mixture of Wilde’s performance and writer-director Sarah Daggar Nickson’s vision.

Wilde is a pure force of nature here. She moves seamlessly through a series of subtle disguises and is more than up to the physical challenges of the role. Her greatest acting comes when the cracks in her cold facade break, and we truly see the damage of what her abuser has done to her.

Sadie’s a product of her world, an oppressive comment on our reality rendered by Nickson with ease. The bleak color pallette and mundane locations give “A Vigilante” a haunting quality, and lead to some nerve-wracking scenes. Nickson evokes true horror in a sequence mid-way through the film involving Sadie going to save a child from an abusive mother. Without even showing the image, she implies something that Sadie finds that could really disturb some audiences.

There are several of these moments in the first two thirds of the film, but they all feel very disconnected. Nickson makes an odd choice to mess with the chronology of the film, having some of the film portray Sadie’s origin, while having others follow her day-to-day vigilante exploits.

This isn’t made quite clear, and often grinds the momentum of the film to a halt at a few moments. When the storylines do come together, and Sadie goes to confront the man (Morgan Spector) who brought her down to where she is, it all comes into focus.

The snowy and similarly chill-inducing finale hosts an almost wordless turn from Wilde, and a haunting look at the impact abuse can have. For all of its flaws, this sequence makes the film absolutely worthwhile.

While it may not also be focused, “A Vigilante” offers an intimate look at a serious issue, making for a strong showing for first time director Sarah Daggar Nickson.


“A Vigilante”

Running Time: 91 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Score: 3.5/5 stars