In A Vigilante, Olivia Wilde is putting all of her energy into freeing domestic violence victims from their abusers.
Recently, while traveling, I was looking for a few movies to watch during my trip. I wanted movies from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. A Vigilante caught my eye because of Olivia Wilde and then the trailer sold me that this was something I needed to see.
I’ll embed the trailer below but in it, we see a poised but clearly tortured Wilde drop a man who is twice her size after telling him that he’s going to leave and sign over a portion of his assets to his wife. Immediately I was wondering what her story was and where this movie was going to take us.
A Vigilante gets a very strong performance from Olivia Wilde and tackles an important issue that doesn’t get covered well in most media. However, it is definitely a festival darling type of movie. This isn’t one you should watch if you’re slightly tired late at night.
This is probably my biggest beef with the the movie. It jumps straight into the story, Olivia Wilde’s Sadie going into a domestic abuser’s house to take him down and free his wife. We don’t know what to expect from this scene so the stakes are high from moment one. The scene as a whole gets you hyped about what you’ll be getting from the rest of the movie as it’s very clear that Sadie is not here to play games. She’s efficient and great at what she does.
From there the pace dies down dramatically for a while. We get some scenes of Sadie staying in different hotels, training and showing signs of PTSD. We see other signs of her past trauma and spend most of the movie trying to figure out what her story is.
In the final 30 minutes or so we get our answer and then there is a final conflict that we have to see through. The movie ends on the high that it started on but you have to wade through a lot of dead space in the middle.
Domestic Violence awareness
Besides Olivia Wilde’s performance, my favorite thing about this movie is the fact that it takes you inside the lives of domestic violence victims. During the film, Sadie does attend several support group sessions. In these sessions different women talk about their experiences with their abusers and tell their story of escape, if they have.
There are various scenarios on display and the women are different ages and have different backgrounds. This topic is difficult to talk about and listen to so having them displayed in this medium is effective in furthering awareness.
Another effective aspect of A Vigilante is the way they handle their action pieces. Olivia Wilde is not exactly the biggest woman so I appreciate that the movie doesn’t make Sadie do things that are physically impossible. We learn where her skills come from and also see the way that she goes about taking men down. Mostly with quick strikes where she keeps space between them and doesn’t have to execute heavy lifts or fight off bear hugs.
This also makes for some pretty intense moments which helps with the overall, somewhat dry feel of the rest of the movie.
The best part of this movie for me was definitely Olivia Wilde’s performance. From the start you can see the intensity within her character but you quickly also see the vulnerability. As she takes off her disguises you start to see scars and can see the pain in her eyes. There are a few moments where Wilde digs deep when she has to relive her trauma in a mental episode and be her own calming mechanism as well.
She handles both the emotional content and the action pieces with the same tenacity and it’s a truly powerful performance that was handled mostly through her physical acting as opposed to there being a ton of dialogue. I’ve definitely gained a new respect for Olivia as an actress. If you’re an Olivia Wilde fan you should definitely have this on your watch list.
I think A Vigilante does a good job of covering its subject matter and shaping its hero in a way that you root for her. However I have to admit that the movie is not overly entertaining or engaging throughout. I wouldn’t call it an action movie though it has many action sets. It’s definitely a gritty drama with a good message. The trailer is below.