Victim is a social commentary drama that executes some of its ideas effectively but generally fails to add anything new to the genre. Co-written by Chin, Maza, Maris, and Adrian Scott, the movie has seems like a nice ear for the mannerisms and attitudes of teenagers and early 20-somethings who get sucked into a life of crime, but the film fails to provide much fresh insight with regard to why, or the mindset of people like Tyson. Even within the film's story, Tyson is an outsider, hoping to clear his debt and go straight, but in doing so, the film feels like one of a million "last-job-and-I'm-out" life of crime stories, and follows the same basic pattern. Status quo, things look better, things get worse, and it all comes down to a last job that the viewer can see is not going to turn out well for anyone involved.
The film opens with the trio performing and then celebrating their latest score before pulling back to show a bit more of their individual lifestyles. This is meant to be sort of a rug pull for the audience, but it almost backfires, because there's not enough sense throughout the movie of how these guys were out of other options. Society often drives the poor to commit crimes, which is of course a systemic issue and not down to each individual person, but for too much of the film, their motives seem shallow. Jason's situation is never referenced, and Mannie's seems like a bit of weak armchair psychology. Tyson's makes the most sense, but there's not enough specificity to his story for the audience to be compelled by it. It ends up playing too familiar, which hurts Tyson's character arc a little.
Good thing Chin is a stronger performer than he is a writer, able to win the audience's sympathies back after nearly a half an hour where he does nothing but sulk, reject Davina, and yell at his sister. When Chin is with Madekwe or Wright, he frequently lights up, boyish charm shining through. When he talks about turning over a new leaf, it doesn't sound like he's just tired of the life; his hope that he can change things for him and his sister rings with genuine hope. Chin also has a great scene with a young boy that Jason beats up (Jordy Meya), another that overcomes the predictability of what occurs through the conviction in Chin's delivery. In these moments, Chin comes off the most passionate, and the movie is at its most effective.
Sadly, too much of Victim's plot momentum is motivated by characters simply doing things that force everyone's hand. Where Tyson's actions should cause unexpected outcomes, like a domino effect, characters (such as Tyson's mother, or Tia's angry ex-boyfriend) simply show up out of the blue and do things that cause chaos. The entire third act is predicated on a single character's actions, but the motivation behind those actions is never set up with enough dramatic weight for the entire thread to be compelling, not to mention the script ends up trumping the thread's logical conclusion with another out-of-the-blue moment instead. During this home stretch, Tyson's actions also become frustrating, with the character refusing to say or do the obvious thing in a way that makes him seem spineless. In a better written film, his hesitation could come off more like a character flaw, but these beats just feel like another one of Victim's many rough patches.
The Video and Audio
Trailers for Very Good Girls, Kid Cannabis, and McCanick play before the main menu, and can be selected again from the main menu under "Previews". An original theatrical trailer for Victim is also included.