B.J. Novak (of The Office notoriety) wastes no time pulling viewers into Vengeance. Taking a page from the best murder mystery storytellers’ playbook, within the first minute of the film he presents viewers with a dead body.
The following review contains some spoilers.
Novak seems unable to quite commit to a single genre: Vengeance is almost a black comedy—encased in a murder mystery. But the murder soon becomes the least interesting thing about the story, which is full of twists, turns, and quirky characters that make the hour and forty-five minutes pass by quickly. The tone of the comedy also stays closer to gray, only rarely approaching more pitch-black hues. The movie is rated R, and there are brief depictions of violence.
Novak plays the main character, Ben Manalowitz. Manalowitz is a white guy, age uncertain, in New York City. His main activities seem to be hitting the town to fatten his rolodex of women to hook up with and brainstorming podcast ideas. His gig writing for The New Yorker isn’t quite enough for him—he’s convinced that he has something big to say about America. His pitches are subsequently sweeping, about what’s really behind the tension dividing Americans from each other.