An ex-pilot and 'nam vet takes a well-earned holiday in Mexico with a dodgy hunting pal he met once and ends up in bed with his lovely missus. Hubby is not pleased, and a bloodbath of vindictive violence ensues.
Although Kevin Costner was a hot commodity when he embarked upon 'Revenge' at the end of the eighties, he seemed, on this occasion, to allow his bankability to run ahead of his judgment (not counting Waterworld which was to come five years later). Having established himself as the Gary Cooper of the time a solid American of warmth, integrity and limited conversational skills we did not have too much trouble accepting him as a career navy flier who decides to hang up his helmet in search of the quiet life.
We even believed him as a Vietnam vet of the non-psychotic but troubled variety. Granted, a Vietnam vet and former flier who can quote Lorca poetry in the original Spanish is pushing it a bit, but was still within the range of the Kevin that we knew and loved. But such a chap who has an affair with the wife of his friend and benefactor, and, when the liaison is discovered and everything goes horribly wrong, exacts bloody vengeance? It's an uphill struggle believing Kevin as the cad-turned-slasher, and Revenge, standing out like a sore thumb in Costner's career, is not the sort of movie to make the effort worthwhile.
Handsomely shot in a Mexico of golden dawns and tawny candlelight, Revenge is an unlikely melodrama of macho passions focusing on the torrid sensuality of Miryea (Stowe). She is married to the rich and powerful local mobster Tibey (Quinn), whose aging vanity won't let him give her the child she craves. When Cochran (Costner), improbably a friend of Tibey's who he has saved in some unspecified hunting accident, turns up for a spot of tennis and relaxation, their eyes meet and temptation rears its steamy head. Tibey finds out and, in a scene of almost unwatchable viciousness, stops just short of killing them.
Via such motley benefactors as a drunken Texan horse-trader and a punk singer, Cochran makes a recovery and plots both to find the missing Miryea and settle his score with Tibey. Festooned with such action man dialogue as "You're a crazy sonofabitch, Cochran, but we're with you", Revenge is nasty, brutish and, at two hours, far from short. Certainly, the ideas, such as they are, should never have left the page. Only the scenes of erotic and emotional tension between Costner and Stowe convince.
It's not just the saturated ultra-violence which make this film difficult to watch - there is something just not convincing about this vehicle for Costner's darker side. One thing is for sure though, driving a Jeep will never be the same again.