According to Quentin Tarantino, this Tony Scott's greatest film. Oddly, QT had a cameo in an indie film called Kicking and Screaming, in which he breaks down the homoerotic subtext in Scott's Top Gun - it's on YouTube.
Based on a Jim Harrison novella (originally published in Esquire in 1979- unread by me. Harrison also penned the screenplay.
It's appropriate-and probably intentional-that ''Revenge'' opened during Valentine's week. It's a macho romance, the male ''An Affair to Remember,'' a billet-doux for guys who dream of chucking it all for steamy adventure. It's corny, cussed and carnal.
Director Tony Scott, ever the stylist, has dressed the movie in phallic symbols (jets, guns, Monument Valley-like topography), an aura of Old West lawlessness and lens filters that imbue some scenes with luridly rosy skies. But he has backed off the overcropped closeups of his earlier ''Top Gun'' and ''Beverly Hills Cop II,'' a tiresome mannerism designed to give jet spins and car chases maximum visual torque. For Scott, ''Revenge,'' violent as it may be, amounts to a relationship film-not a relationship between man and woman so much as between a certain kind of man and his idea of woman. It's so blatantly retrogressive as to be funny. Again, Top Gun.
The package comes strongly cast, but sketchily told. Kevin Costner, who also is executive producer of the movie, plays Cochran, a crack Navy flier and Vietnam vet who hangs up his helmet to seek new adventures. First stop: Puerto Vallarta, where he has a date to hunt and play with an old pal, a ruthless Mexican tycoon named Tiburon Mendez (Anthony Quinn). The cast also features the late iconic cult favorite, Tomas Milian and Miguel Ferrer (the yuppie/cokehead from RoboCop).
''He saved my life on a hunting trip,'' Mendez explains. ''I owe him.''
It is the first postulate of an endless equation. Mendez expects to repay Cochran with a specially fitted hunting rifle, a trip to Italy and some vigorous sets of tennis. Mendez' disillusioned young wife, Miryea (Madeleine Stowe), has different standards of hospitality. When Cochran clumsily translates a stanza of Spanish poetry, she falls in love, and the two begin a dangerous affair. Trysting in Cochran's remote cabin near the American border, they are discovered in flagrante by Mendez, who leaves Cochran for dead and dumps Miryea in a brothel.
The rest of the picture, as Cochran recovers and sets out to find Miryea and seek... revenge!, takes on a feverish, almost hallucinogenic quality. There's a curious incompleteness to the scenes. Cochran is helped by a peasant who makes him a knife and by the parent's brother-in-law (a young John Leguzamo), who has his own grudge against Mendez. He also encounters a friendly American horsetrader who gives him a lift and some welcome gringo palaver and then dies of a sudden, mysterious illness. Sally Kirkland pops up as a brash American singer (billed as a "rock star") and vanishes as abruptly. Abortive scenes of Miryea, being drugged by a solicitous transvestite and raped by a former servant, float past as if we were dreaming them.
It's a technique that covers a multitude of narrative sins, not the least of which is aw-shucks dialogue. This smooch-em-up, shoot-em-up isn't concerned with probability or tying up loose ends, or even "playing fair." It's concerned with a dated masculine protocol that never actually existed as Mendez tells his bodyguard that ''etiquette demands'' that only he may kill Cochran. When the confrontation comes, an apology (Costner to Quinn - no apology for Stowe) serves to save them both, while the hapless Miryea-by now inexplicably ill and dying in a convent-awaits the fate of faithless heroines of centuries past. Ah, well. ''Revenge'' was no place for a woman, anyway.
Supremely goofy fun for aficionados of bad/high gloss Hollywood product.
Average bluray picture and sound. Optional English subtitles. And "uncut/director cut."
This Blu-ray release of Revenge features two extras of note. First is a feature-length commentary track with Director Tony Scott. The director discusses the story's life before the film, the film's controversial images, the differences between this version of the film and the longer cut, Scott's involvement and the film's place in his career, the performances of the cast, sets and shooting locations, and much more. Scott's comments are informative and revealing, and fans of the film or its director will want to give this track a chance. Obsession: The Sex and Violence of 'Revenge' (480p, 14:45) examines not only the piece's title subjects but also the history of the production and the various changes along the way.