'Act of Vengeance' is one of the messiest movies I've seen in a long time. It's got a particular message that it wants to shove down the viewer's throat at all costs: Not all Muslims are terrorists. Yes, we know. This is a foregone conclusion in most people's minds (only the fringe lunatics really believe that all Muslims are terrorists). Yet, the movie continues to lay it on as thick as it can even having its own characters say lines basically spelling out its meaning. The entire 101 minutes is taken up by heavy-handed preaching on a subject that most everyone agrees with anyway. It seems redundant.
The original title for 'Act of Vengeance' was 'Five Minarets in New York.' Most likely fearing people would say, "Huh?" when confronted with the obscure title on the store shelves, the distributors went with the much more basic title hoping people with a penchant for revenge films would be duped into buying it. Calling the movie 'Five Minarets in New York' would've been a disservice to the film though, since it would've promised a much more intelligent experience than what you end up getting.
Minarets are spires found on Islamic mosques, and I'm guessing that here they were meant to represent the different main characters in the movie. It's also probably a reference to the Five Pillars of Islam. All that is conjecture though as the distributors decided to go with the generic title which fits well since its nothing but generic storytelling.
Haci (Haluk Bilginer) is a well-respected Muslim living in the heart of New York. However, special government agents from Turkey think he's hiding a past filled with acts of terrorism. Firat (Mahsun Kirmizigül) and Acar (Mustafa Sandal) are sent to retrieve Haci and bring him back to face his crimes in Turkey.
Once they're in New York the two agents meet up with Agent Becker (Robert Patrick) who plays the obtuse American who says ridiculous things about all Muslims being terrorists in order to lay the groundwork of the message that the movie is going to pound home any chance it gets. Becker's lines of dialogue are so forced and unnecessary that you'll find it hard not to roll your eyes at the obvious intentions of the writers.
Haci is caught and while he's being transported he's broken out by a group of masked men who are very good at using explosives and extraction techniques. If Haci isn't a terrorist – which he claims incessantly that he isn't - then he sure has some talented friends in the extraction business. His escape from FBI custody really sealed the deal and turned the promising first 20 minutes into drudgery. If Haci isn't who they claim him to be then why does he have friends that are so good at slapping together a rescue when the time is needed? When the ending comes that escape seems completely nonsensical given the information we're privy to when everything comes to a close.
It was a good idea to change the movie's name to 'Act of Vengeance' because there's no way this muddled mess was anywhere near as smart as the original title would've led you to believe. As the writers hammer home their obvious agenda it's hard not to feel a little pummeled in the process. You might find yourself yelling, "I get it!" at your TV screen as the movie, for the twentieth time, reiterates that all Muslims aren't terrorists. Tell us something we don't know.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a Millennium Entertainment release. The movie comes pressed onto a 25GB Blu-ray Disc. The disc is packaged in a standard Blu-ray keepcase. It's a Region A release.
Like the movie itself, the video has a sort of schizophrenic feel to it. At times the 1080p picture can look stellar, clear, and full of fine detail; then the very next scene can be full of background digital noise and extremely soft shots.
It's the curse of low budget movies. 'Act of Vengeance' has moments of brilliance which are taken down a peg or two by the constant sequences featuring hazy focus in short-, mid-, and long-range shots. There isn't really any rhyme or reason why some of the scenes are soft while others are full of detail. Close-ups usually offer the most fine detail, sporting nicely rendered facial hair and clothing textures. Colors appear natural, for the most part, but there are a few daylight scenes that feature very washed-out looks. Skin tones are paler than you'd think they should be. Blacks are a little flat for much of the movie featuring some crushing shadows here and there.
I noticed a bit of aliasing on the brickwork and windows of New York, but I didn't notice any other glaring anomalies. It isn't all bad. When the image is sharp and in focus it impresses, but there were simply too many soft or gauzy shots to proclaim this transfer a winner.
On the other hand the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound track does feature a well-rounded sound stage that succeeds in immersing the viewer in the action. The city of New York is a busy place and the rear channels catch the sound well. The rescue scene, while it doesn't make sense in the grand scheme of things, does feature some good action-oriented sound effects. Panning effects work smoothly as cars and trucks zoom in and out of frame. Explosions provide a good low-end impact. Dialogue is always intelligible. I felt that this presentation made me feel like I was there for the most part, and that's all I really ask of a high-def audio mix.
There are no special features included.
So, all Muslims aren't terrorists. If you know this little bit of common knowledge then you don't need to watch 'Act of Vengeance.' That's it's only goal, to get that message across to the viewer, if you're already a sane person then you know this to be true and you don't need to go through this heavy-handed diatribe. 'Act of Vengeance' has a good heart, but it loses its way pretty quickly. It's a forgettable thriller at best. This is probably one to avoid.