‘Measure of Revenge’ is a Baffling Disaster

Everything about this bomb is inexplicably odd, from the plot to the camerawork to the fact that there is no credit for screenplay—maybe if you see it, you'll know why.

Bella Thorne and Melissa Leo suffer through 'Measure of Revenge'

 Oscar-winner Melissa Leo is an actor of great resilience, range and resolution.  She must also be a performer with abnormal dedication to craft if she could stay awake long enough to get through the shooting of a dog like the sub-mental disaster called Measure of Revenge. 

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(1/4 stars)
Directed by: Peyfa
Starring: Melissa Leo, Bella Thorne
Running time: 92 mins.

Everything about this bomb is inexplicably odd, from the plot to the camerawork to the fact that there is no credit for screenplay—maybe if you see it, you’ll know why. Allegedly “directed” by someone from Malaysia who calls himself “Peyfa”, this mystifying mistake centers on a New York stage star named Lillian Cooper, played with grueling intensity by Ms. Leo. When it opens, she is growling and spitting her way through a closing performance of Macbeth as one of the three witches. Simultaneously she is awaiting the return of her beloved son Curtis, the junkie lead singer in a pop band who is coming home after a long stint in rehab ( played by Michael Weary, who more than lives up to his name). Before you can say “snort this,” Curtis and his pregnant fiance are found dead with traces of a powerful amphetamine in their bloodstreams. The indifferent New York cops pronounce it an overdose, but Lillian has her doubts, so she embarks on a quest for the truth. Was it an accidental O.D. or were they murdered by someone with a grudge? Like the missing screenwriter? While Lillian slowly falls to pieces, she becomes so obsessed with finding her son’s killer that she turns to his former lady drug dealer (a wasted Bella Thorne) for help. The movie painfully chronicles her new career as a vigilante as she stalks her top three suspects who she is convinced provided Curtis with the fatal drugs. As this contrived and totally unconvincing hokum disguised as a thriller drags along, Lillian becomes so obsessed and angered by police incompetence that she buys a gun and turns into a felon herself, seeking revenge dressed like characters from Shakespeare.

 How she manages to star every few minutes in new productions of Shakespeare playing Portia, Hamlet and Lady Macbeth is never explained, but she sneaks out of various theaters during other people’s scenes long enough to murder her dead son’s ex-manager, the man who ran his old record company, and a fellow musician who wrote a song about Curtis for his next rock album.  The movie is sewer drainage, but it does give Melissa Leo a rare chance to quote lines by the Bard she would never otherwise be asked to deliver. She does it all with broiling dynamism, but this movie is so bad that nobody is likely to notice. In the end, she is walking away from Broadway surrounded by Romeo, Juliet, Desdemona, Cleopatra, and King Lear. This is not just bananas; it’s barbecued Brussels sprouts. But believe me when I tell you that watching Measure of Revenge is even loopier than trying to describe it.

Observer Reviews are regular assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.

‘Measure of Revenge’ is a Baffling Disaster