As with any movie concerned with sex trafficking, revenge thriller Bound to Vengeance is often horrifying. Director José Manuel Cravioto, in his English-language debut, nevertheless attempts to subvert the sadly commonplace “woman in captivity” narrative, but mostly only succeeds in testing the limits of our gore tolerance.
You might start the movie off thinking you’ve mistakenly come in at the end, as Eve (Tina Ivlev) bashes the man who chained her up in the head with a rock and makes her escape. It’s sort of like starting The Texas Chain Saw Massacre with Marilyn Burns climbing into the pickup. But instead of escaping, Eve makes her captor, Phil (Richard Tyson), lead her to the other girls he’s holding captive. It’s reminiscent of Collateral, only instead of seeking people to kill, Eve is trying to save them, with results one could charitably describe as “mixed.”
There are twists, many of which you’ll see coming if you’ve sat through any of the Taken movies, and disturbing hints are dropped that this sort of thing goes all the way to the top, with no subsequent payoff. Bound to Vengeance strains credibility (seriously, she never calls the cops?) and swerves dangerously close to exploitation often enough that its semi-clever premise can’t keep it on course.
Still, Tyson’s performance is something of a surprise. Here’s a guy probably best remembered for playing the bully in Three O’Clock High, giving a nuanced if unpleasant performance almost 30 years later. For the other characters, motivation is entirely absent, and they’re mostly introduced to see how messily they can then be slaughtered.
Bound to Vengeance
Directed by José Manuel Cravioto
Opens June 26, IFC Center