Olivia Wilde provides a brave, affecting, and largely overlooked performance in A Vigilante, from writer/director Sarah Daggar-Nickson. Those expecting Death Wish-style revenge porn will not find it here, as Daggar-Nickson is most concerned with focusing on the torment of an abused woman. We earn glimpses into protagonist Sadie's life as the lean, austere film moves forward, but are left with questions about her transformation into a violent guardian angel. Sadie's new career is helping abused women and children, and she travels from house to house making sure their abusers do not repeat their sins.
What Daggar-Nickson makes immediately clear is that Sadie - like many domestic violence victims - lives in constant torment. Her barren, depressing house is not a home; she sleeps with a knife under her pillow and often awakens in a panic. We learn quickly that Sadie had a son who is gone and expect the impending confrontation with a lover from the past. That comes, and only then does A Vigilante border on exploitation. Of course there must be stakes, and the film does not shy away from the truths of violent relationships.
While the opening scenes suggest the film may unspool like revenge-thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it never does. A Vigilante stays close to Wilde; uncomfortably so, with intimate close-ups that reveal injuries both physical and mental. The actress really is excellent here, and is physically believable in the role. Tonye Patano and Morgan Spector give brief, solid performances as a counselor and antagonist to Sadie, respectively. A Vigilante flew under the radar thanks to an on-demand release, but is worth watching for Wilde's performance alone.
Lionsgate handles the Blu-ray release for A Vigilante and provides a sleek, detailed 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. Colors are muted to match the film's harsh atmosphere, but fine-object detail is impressive in the frequent close-ups. The film's color grading leans heavily toward blues and greys, but skin tones appear natural and highlights do not bloom. Black levels are strong, black crush is minimal, and I only noticed very minor compression artifacts.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix supports the often-quiet, claustrophobic film with excellent dialogue reproduction, expansive ambient effects and nuanced action-effect integration. The sound stage is expansive and all elements are balanced appropriately, including the score. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This two-disc set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD copy and an HD digital copy. The discs are packed in an eco-case that is wrapped in a slipcover. The only extra is a decent making-of: Catharsis - The Making of A Vigilante (17:43/HD).
This lean thriller pulls no punches about domestic violence, and, while it may not satisfy those looking for pulpy, Death Wish-style thrills, A Vigilante benefits from an excellent performance by Olivia Wilde as a guardian angel to abused women and children. Recommended.