Post-apocalyptic Liverpool: After his wife was murdered by the Duke
(Derek Jacobi) and his sons, Vindici (Christopher Eccleston) has gone into
seclusion for years, now though he has come back to get his revenge ...
but how to get close enough to the Duke, he wonders.
Thing is, the Duke's sons are not exactly sainst, and they are doing
quite a bit of fighting about the succession among themselves - and
Vindici has the good sense of capturing the youngest of them, Junior (Paul
Reynolds) when he was just about to rape a woman - instead he receives a
sound beating by Vindici, who keeps punding until the police arrives.
The whole thing was witnessed by Lussurioso (Eddie Izzard), the eldest
of the Duke's sons, who is quite impressed by Vindici's determination and
dare and is grateful that someone has taught his brother a lesson. So
Lussurioso takes Vindici into his employ, as pimp, right-hand man and even
friend, especially after Vindici promises him a girl he has long
lusted for - not knowing of course that girl is Vindici's own sister
Castiza (Carla Henry) who he merely uses as bait.
Lussurioso's friend soon tells him about his mother in bed with
one of his brothers, and Lussurioso storms in knife in hand, only to
instead find his dad in bed instead, who thinks Lussurioso is about to
assassinate him and has him thrown into the slammer. His brothers promise
to free Lussurioso, but secretly they relish in the thought of their
brother being sentenced to death, and when their father finally signs the
verdict, they couldn't deliver it any faster ...
Vindici though has meanwhile freed Lussurioso, so when the hangman and
the guards open his cell, they find it empty ... but then again, the
Duke's death sentence is not too specific about which son to murder, and
since there is another of the Duke's sons, Junior, in the same prison, why
not just hang him ?
At Junior's funeral, Vindici meets the Duke face to face for the first
time, but instead of just killing him he promises to be his pimp as well,
again using his sister Castiza as bait. But first, Vindici has to take
care of the Duke's sons, at a magic show staged by Castiza. When suddenly
tehj lights go out while Lussurioso is on stage as a volunteer, Vindici
buries a knife in his chest. The brothers, seeing their eldest brother
dead, immediately start fighting about the succession and kill each other
in the process ...
Finally, Vindici, his brother Carlo (Andrew Schofield) and his mum
deliver Castiza to the Duke - when Vindici all of a sudden confesses to
have killed all of the Duke's sons (some indirectly though), and he and
his family take the Duke hostage. And Vindici would even shoot him when
facing a SWAT team ... when it turns out his gun is only a novelty toy.
The play Revenger's Tragedy was actually written in 1606 by
Thomas Middleton (probably), so it seems to be a bit of a gamble to transpose its
story to a post-apocalyptic Liverpool full of punks and weirdos - but
thanks to Alex Cox' directorial genius (and helped by terrific
performances, especially by Christopher Eccleston and an unusually
restrained Eddie Izzard) the story seems to have been written for exactly
that place and time, even if the language might sound a tad dated.
The resulting film is a highly entertaining black comedy, owing in
equal shares to its source play, genre cinema and the director's very
personal style, or to put it simpler, the outcome is just great !