Do Revenge Review

Do Revenge
High school queen bee Drea (Camila Mendes) has a perfect life until a sex tape she sends to boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams) is leaked. Drea enlists new student Eleanor (Maya Hawke) to get her own back, while promising to take out Eleanor’s nemesis in turn – but all does not go to plan.

by Helen O'Hara |
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Do Revenge

It’s been a while since we had a pretender to Heathers’ crown as the queen of the mean teen movie. Mean Girls was a little softer; Booksmart too fundamentally nice; Blockers too parentally focused. Do Revenge, however, has a little of the same anarchic spirit that powered the Winona Ryder classic, with a distinctly Gen Z spin. This is a high school comedy that’s sex positive and gender-inclusive and still as emotionally intemperate as ever.

Our antiheroine is Drea, played by Riverdale’s Camila Mendes. She’s a scholarship kid who has worked her way to the pinnacle of her fancy private school’s social and academic hierarchy. What’s her damage? Well, it all comes tumbling down when the sex tape she sent to boyfriend Max (Austin Abrams) is leaked. Barred from direct action by the threat of expulsion by the principal (Sarah Michelle Gellar, who five minutes ago was in high school herself, surely), she sees a way to get her vengeance when new girl Eleanor (Maya Hawke) confesses that her own nemesis is also at the school, and the pair team up to “do” one another’s revenge.

Mendes and Hawke make a likeable double act, and Abrams’ Max is fascinatingly, transparently awful.

Their Strangers On A Train plot involves, inevitably, a makeover for slacker Eleanor and Drea’s masterminding of one elaborate scheme after another, hitting out at collateral bullies like Sophie Turner’s Emily along the way. Drea is, unquestionably, a bad person; it’s testament to Mendes’ charm and everyone else’s awfulness that she largely keeps you on side. Eleanor is warier and more reserved, but has a welcome degree of sardonic remove from the whole thing.

You think you know how all of this is going to play out from about five minutes in, and for a while this follows expectations. But director and co-writer Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (a veteran of Thor: Love And Thunder most recently but creator of Sweet/Vicious more relevantly) has more to say than the average Netflix teen offering, and more bad language to say it with. Despite the glamorous surroundings, ridiculous pastel uniforms and hyper-inclusive posing of her private school students, she packs the barbs in and keeps the turns coming. These revenge plots don’t all run smoothly – and their targets have agency too.

The result ends up having about 60% more plot than you’d expect, which requires a running time that’s longer than is probably optimal for the genre, and at times it struggles to balance the broader comic moments with the more serious touches. But overall, this is a blast. Mendes and Hawke make a likeable double act, and Abrams’ Max is fascinatingly, transparently awful — a real car crash of male feminist posing. So come for the same old teen shenanigans, stay for a surprising amount of edge and a lizard called Oscar Winner Olivia Colman.

Proof that Netflix doesn’t just do Kissing Booth movies: given the right talent, they can produce a genuinely compelling high school comedy. And you thought they didn’t make ‘em like this anymore.
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