Film Critic

Chuck Koplinski is The News-Gazette's film critic. His email is and you can follow him on Twitter (@ckoplinski).

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I recently wrote a review in which I noted that sometimes good actors make bad movies.

For the most part, I don’t think they do this on purpose. I think a script comes along that they feel they may be able to elevate through hard work with their fellow

cast members and that perhaps an in-production rewrite will help smooth over some obvious rough patches.

Of course, this doesn’t always happen, expectations are dashed, potential isn’t realized, and you regret the $10 you spent while I rue the time I wasted.

Then there are paycheck movies, which are different from bad movies.

The talent involved knows full-well the script they’ve signed on for isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, yet the temptation of a fat check or other perks compel them to throw reason, their reputation and good taste aside.

(Note: I have great admiration for the actress Famke Janssen. In an interview some years back, she admitted the only reason she made “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” was that she needed a new kitchen, and her fee for the film would allow her to achieve that goal. Ironically, she was the best thing about that movie — I guess the prospect of that new kitchen put a little pep in her performance. But I digress …)

Which brings me to George Gallo’s “Vanquish,” which is not only the worst film I’ve seen this year but also perhaps in the last decade.

Now, I could be wrong about this, as my memory is not what it once was, and studies show that as a defense mechanism, our brains tend to suppress traumatic experiences. I’m hoping this will be scrubbed from my mind as soon as possible.

While Morgan Freeman is

not the star of this abomination, he’s the biggest name, the Oscar-winner slumming it as a dirty retired cop with some old scores to settle.

(Note: Fellow Oscar-winner Michael Caine was no stranger to making paycheck movies, chief among them “Jaws: The Revenge.” He admitted he made that film because he’d never been to Hawaii, where it was being shot. How, at the age of 54, international movie star Michael Caine had never been to Hawaii before is a question to ponder another day. But I digress …)

While I think a large paycheck must have enticed Freeman to make this film, there’s another perk that must have been appealing — he never has to stand.

His character, Damon, is in a wheelchair throughout, rolling about his modernistic mansion, bathed in cool blues and seductive blacks, scowling again and again as he sees the outside world through the eyes of a surrogate.

That would be Victoria (Ruby Rose, all attitude and little else), his caretaker who apparently went to the same finishing school as Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills from the “Taken” franchise. She has the same “particular set of skills.” She also has a sick daughter whom Damon’s holding hostage until she completes five trips to pick up large sums of money from various nefarious characters.

Of course, each trip ends

in violence, frantically cut together to obscure the ineptitude of their staging.

Cryptic dialogue expressing half-thoughts is spoken throughout, implying great menace and import, failing to obscure Gallo’s lazy writing.

The story is repetitious and the performances stiff, and “Vanquish” doesn’t even do us the service of being so bad it’s laughable.

No, it’s just embarrassing, much like the time Bruce Willis nearly committed career suicide with “Hudson Hawk.”

(He would later say about the experience that he thought he was making a classic for the ages. Ah, how deluded we all can be.)

For DVR alerts, film recommendations and movie news, follow Koplinski on Twitter (@ckoplinski). His email is

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