Feb 9, 2023
Serinda Swan, Vanessa Dubasso, Pollyanna McIntosh
A revenge fantasy in ‘Daughters of Anarchy’ dressing, Revenge Ride fails to draw interest or depth to its ultraviolence and anger aimed at toxic masculinity.
After she is spiked and violently assaulted at a college frat party, Mary (Vanessa Dubasso) contacts her cousin Maggie (Serinda Swan) for help when she concludes the police won’t deliver justice. Maggie is a member of the Dark Moon – an all-woman biker gang led by the ferocious Trigga (Pollyanna McIntosh). The gang plot vengeance against the men who attacked Mary, but when Maggie falls in love with college student Brian (Diego Boneta), she is set on a collision course with Trigga’s unrelenting thirst for retribution.
Revenge Ride feels like it was made for a different era, where a film focusing on an all-woman biker gang enacting payback would have felt bullish and defiant. But in a new age of unapologetic and layered female protagonists like House of the Dragon’s Rhaenyra Targaryen or Black Panther’s Shuri and Okoye, throwing a leather jacket and tattoos on a character and having them drop the F word into every other sentence really isn’t sufficient to engender any relatability or intrigue in a character. And where Promising Young Woman demonstrated that revenge flicks can make genuine, heart-breaking commentary on the world’s disregard of women’s safety, films like Revenge Ride feel like total trite in comparison, despite their shared serious subject matter.
That’s not to say this film would be a masterpiece yesteryear. The film never really demonstrates why the gang is so important to the women in it. Hints at past traumas and broad strokes of a sisterhood never really capture why Trigga is able to command such rabid loyalty. The one character whose attraction to the group does not need stating is Mary – but the film’s decision to make Maggie the protagonist diverts what would appear to be a straightforward theme of how reclaiming power and agency is attractive, but how the same power can corrupt. Mary instead becomes a secondary player in what feels like her own story – and without that establishment of the gang’s significance, the growing divide between Maggie and Trigga that threatens its future fails to entice as a plot.
The film does touch on some interesting elements, but these are largely left unexplored – such as the college’s sporting institution stepping in to protect Mary’s attackers thanks to their football ability, or the police’s refusal to investigate Mary’s attack. Revenge fantasies against evil frat boys are fine and all, but further opportunity for skewering the factors that allow such people to exist and be protected in the real world feels wasted in favour of the flat ‘gang warfare’ structure.
Dialogue is cringeworthy throughout – with aforementioned F words seemingly making up half the script to demonstrate how badass everyone is. The rest of the story is told through lazy cliches and soundbites. No one really expects Shakespeare from a Biker revenge film, but more defining and distinctive characterisation is desperately needed. This is unfortunately not found from the cast either, with Pollyanna McIntosh autopiloting her Walking Dead character and Vanessa Dubasso failing to convincingly bring out Mary’s fury. Serinda Swan benefits from a softer side of her character to sink her teeth into, but its far from sufficient to justify her character’s protagonist status.
The visuals are crisp and feature some interesting scene composition, but there’s little else really redeeming about Revenge Ride. Where once the film may have worked as a cheesy b-movie or gory bloodbath, a brutal and sadly pertinent inciting incident and subject matter in 2023 demands a defter, more considered touch with more developed and critical ideas powering its story.
WATCH THE OFFICIAL REVENGE RIDE TRAILER HERE.