Tattoo of Revenge, directed by Julián Hernández, is a new Mexican revenge thriller that takes a female-empowerment approach similar to the Millennium Series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Hernández has an obvious vision with the film, but vision alone does not amount to a satisfying thriller.
The movie follows a vigilante who seduces, tortures, and tattoos rapists as she finds herself a target of her enemies. This story’s arc is similar to most other similar revenge thrillers and hits many of the same beats that have been done more successfully in other films. Even the female empowerment lens through which the story is told has been done before.
Additionally, the movie offers very little new to say about its themes. The film’s messages are very on-the-nose and obvious from the get go, leaving little for the interpretation of the audience. Although there isn’t (and shouldn’t be) any moral ambiguity regarding whether or not what the rapists are doing is wrong (it is), there should have been more subtlety and nuance surrounding the vigilante character.
The protagonist of the movie is presented very much as a hero, and while her motives are good, the things she is doing are illegal, and so the film likely would have been much more effective presenting her as an antihero. Even though the audience will sympathize with her because of her morality, it is hard to ever buy into the stakes of the movie because she is a hero, and heroes (almost) always win.
The pacing of the film also was quite inconsistent. The movie’s runtime clocks in at two hours and thirty minutes and, quite frankly, there is no reason for it to be this long. Multiple scenes stretch out far too long past their welcome and lose their impact as a result. There are some good moments throughout, but in between those moments is a ton of fluff that easily could have been trimmed.
Diana Lein is undeniably the highlight of the film in her leading role. Unlike most other revenge movies, this seems to have much more of an influence from the film noir movement, as the protagonist feels like a classic femme fatale (albeit with a more empowering twist) and Lein does a great job of bringing that to life. It’s certainly a bit disappointing that the script drags her down, but when she is given something substantial to do, she shines.
On a technical level, the movie is wildly inconsistent. The visuals, while ambitious, are all over the place in a way that is often distracting. One of the most questionable choices made in the film was shooting it partially in color and partially in black-and-white. This was obviously a conscious decision on the part of the filmmaker, but it does not have any particularly noticeable effect, instead feeling entirely distracting.
Tattoo of Revenge has noble intentions, but sadly, is too messy and overlong to be particularly memorable. More often than not, this pales in comparison to those movies which it so desperately wants to imitate.
Tattoo of Revenge is now available on VOD and DVD.