Vigilante Diaries review – underwhelming and unwatchable

Vigilante Diaries packs dull action

Making a good action/comedy isn’t impossible, but it may as well be in most cases. Vigilante Diaries is not that rare exception as it’s largely unwatchable and embarrassing for everyone involved.

In the late 90s, Pamela Anderson starred in V.I.P., a knowingly tongue-in-cheek action comedy. With Anderson in the lead, the showrunners knew to go heavier on the comedy and less on badly choreographed action. It wasn’t brilliant by any means, but it lasted for five seasons because the showrunners rarely strayed from what worked.

Vigilante Diaries however wants to have an ultra-violent, bloody action movie while giving equal attention to the comedy. Bad acting, small-scale action sequences are one thing, but terribly unfunny attempts at humor are another.

Vigilante Diaries review - Rampage Jackson, Paul Sloan and Michael Jai White

Director/co-screenwriter Christian Sesma and co-writer Paul Sloan seem entirely too pleased with themselves for essentially ripping off better shot, acted and logical action movies.

Given the cast, a C-level take on The Expendables seemed the most obvious, but they try to make it more complex with disastrous results. There’s a slew of double crosses, conflicting agendas and outright idiotic plot twists that don’t do Vigilante Diaries any favors in terms of being a cohesive and enjoyable experience.

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The film is a continuation of the Vigilante Diaries web series. Fans of the show (there has to be some out there) will probably get a kick out of seeing a full-length installment. For newcomers, there’s little incentive here to encourage you to track down the series even if it were free on YouTube.

Vigilante Diaries review - Jason Mewes

The Vigilante (Sloan) and his sidekick, The Kid (Kevin L. Walker), have earned a feared reputation for their violent tactics in taking down feared criminals. Think Batman and Robin if they just used guns, killed every bad guy they encountered and were gravely serious every second. On second thought they’re more like Kick Ass’ Big Daddy and Hit Girl minus the charisma and cool costumes.

Vigilante Diaries review - Sal Chavo Guerrero

Their exploits have gained a large following after videographer Mike Hanover (Jason Mewes) uploads footage of them taking down criminal gangs. After The Vigilante gets caught by a mob, The Kid has to call Gay Barry (Mike Hatton) for aid. Barry is an over the top gay stereotype seemingly included because Sesma and Sloan thought it would be funny. Barry calls in some backup including Wolfman (Rampage Jackson), Tex-Mex (Lucha Underground star Chavo Guerrero) and Geek (Mike Sherman).

Meanwhile, Vigilante’s girlfriend, Jade (Jacqueline Lord), is having problems with one of her working girls Red (Jessica Uberuaga). Maybe the web series covered some of this drama, but the film needed to be friendlier for series newcomers. It’s also possible Sesma and Sloan were making it up as they went along, which actually makes a bit more sense given the confusing and scattershot script.

Vigilante Diaries review - Paul Sloan

Lurking behind the scenes is The Vigilante’s mentor (Michael Madsen collecting a paycheck) and his longtime rival, Barrington (Michael Jai White, The Dark Knight). I was more than a little annoyed with casting agents that Jai White, aka Black Dynamite, had to slum by appearing in this farce.

The acting quality is about what you’d expect from the film. Mewes seems to realize how good he had it appearing in Kevin Smith films. Mewes desperately overacts in an attempt to stand out. Sloan plays stoic tough guy reasonably well, but there’s only so much the actors can do with the awful dialogue.

This marks Sesma’s 7th film in addition to directing the web series. He’s moved past the grace period for first-time/inexperienced directors. The film has a $4 million budget, but it looks cheaper with some especially bad CGI for the gun effects. There’s a smaller, more restrictive feel to the film that gives that low budget appearance.

Vigilante Diaries review - Paul Sloan and Michael Madsen

Vigilante Diaries is a comprehensive disaster. It’s not as creative as Jason Statham’s Crank series or as engaging on the most basic level like The Punisher films. And it definitely lacks the winking fun and bombastic action of The Expendables trilogy. Close the book on this diary, there’s nothing exciting to be found here.

Rating: 2 out of 10

Image Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment

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