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Vigilante Diaries (Movie Review)

Vigilante Diaries (Movie Review)
06.22.2016by: Cody Hamman
6 10

PLOT: A man known as The Vigilante beats and blasts his way through multiple action-packed scenarios.

REVIEW: VIGILANTE DIARIES started off as a web series on the now-defunct Chill.com. Two episodes were shot, with several more scripted and a total of ten planned. The outcome was a "bad news, good news" situation. The bad news is that the web series didn't continue beyond those two initial episodes, but the good news is that The Vigilante lives on with this film. Given that the movie plays out in chapters that are all over the place in terms of the locations and time periods they're set in, I have to wonder if the feature was put together using the scripts for the unfilmed episodes.

Those first two episodes are still available for viewing online, and if you've already watched them and are concerned that they might have been integrated into the movie, fear not. Footage from the episodes is included, but it's for a quick recap and then the film serves as a follow-up to their storyline. This doesn't contain those twenty minutes of Vigilante that you've seen before. For viewers who haven't watched those episodes, I would advise checking them out to help you decide if VIGILANTE DIARIES is something you want to delve into, because it's good to have the information they provide before watching the movie.

Even when you know what happened in those episodes, watching the feature can be a dizzying experience. There's a scene in 2005, and then you're in modern day, and then there's a flashback to 2007, back to modern day, back to '07, jump ahead a month, etc. There are multiple stories going on at once - a traitorous military commander seeking uranium, Armenian mobsters seeking revenge, rescue missions, a mysterious Michael Madsen pulling strings. VIGILANTE DIARIES is a movie that can leave you behind really quickly. Repeat viewings would probably be beneficial, if you feel so inclined.

Because things are so scattered, and because the movie kills its own momentum at every turn by jumping around so much, I was never really invested in what was happening. Finding the storytelling to be extremely off-putting, I pretty much checked out while just letting the film's humor, action, and violence wash over me.

Those are areas where VIGILANTE DIARIES truly shines, as director Christian Sesma can shoot the hell out of an action scene, whether it's a shootout (of which there are several), a bone-crunching physical altercation (we get a bunch of those as well), or a vehicular chase. He assembled a great cast to portray a roster of badass characters, including his co-writer Paul Sloan as the "self-made superhero" vigilante of the title, who really doesn't get enough development in his own movie. There's the aforementioned Madsen, as well as Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Michael Jai White, and Jacqueline Lord. Most of the characters are fun to watch and have a nice banter with each other that brings smiles and laughs, and Jason Mewes is also on hand for that purpose, reprising the role of the documentary filmmaker he played in the web series episodes.

The action would have been even better if I cared about the characters, but the structure of the script made it impossible for me to really connect with anyone. While it wasn't evoking an emotional response, I could still appreciate the choreography, the way things were shot, and the editing.

There are definitely promising elements within VIGILANTE DIARIES, but it also feels like there was squandered potential. It certainly seems like they were trying to cram several episodes worth of material into a feature running time, and if they had pared things down a bit, made it more focused and streamlined, it could have been a much more satisfying experience.

If you want to see some good action, VIGILANTE DIARIES provides that.

Extra Tidbit: VIGILANTE DIARIES receives an iTunes and limited theatrical release on June 24th. A Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand release will follow on July 5th.

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