In this 90s-throwback teen drama, the unlikely pairing of Drea (Camila Mendes) and Eleanor (Maya Hawke) team up to enact revenge on each-other’s worst enemies. Do Revenge could do better, but it’s still a fun ride with much to love.
The best thing this film has going for it, right from the outset, is the dynamic chemistry between leads Camilla Mendes and Maya Hawke. These two distinct personalities are beloved for their respective projects and just gel together brilliantly. The film itself starts off a little rocky. Before the point in which Camilla and Maya join forces, it’s just floating through some very basic setup and it’s not entirely engaging. It feels a little too plain and basic at first, but when the central arc kicks in and these two actors come together, it elevates in pace and all-round joy. Lighthearted, fun and easy to watch, the narrative is set up perfectly for anyone looking for almost two hours of easy entertainment. It doesn’t pull huge punches when it could, and it hits a couple of predictable beats along the way, but that’s not to the detriment of the film. It doesn’t feel very new, but that’s not the goal here, since it’s playing off the idea of being an homage to some iconic 90s teen flicks. I will say, it does one thing that’s especially awesome, something I didn’t see coming and actually took the film up a couple of notches… but I won’t say what that is here.
Unexpectedly heartwarming is the name of the game when it comes to Do Revenge. I was expecting a constant run of cheesy comedy and silly one-liners to pad out the runtime, but there’s actually not a lot of that. It takes itself a little more seriously than I was expecting, but still incorporates a bit of that 90s camp into the story. Not focusing on the silly comedy allows them to weave in some nice character arcs that pump some genuine emotion into the film. It adds layers to the story, making it about more than just the whole ‘revenge’ mission. The revenge content is certainly the driving force, but there’s a couple of great, really impactful themes that play quite. a huge role in the development of the characters in the latter half.
From the get-go, it’s very clear this is an homage and love letter to the 90s teen revenge film. There’s some light shades of Clueless (1995) here and there, but the most obvious influence here is without a doubt Cruel Intentions (1999). Writer/director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson has weaved in a tonne of references to Cruel Intentions; like characters emulating the likes of Sebastian and Kathryn, song choices and iconic shots used in the 90s classic, and even the appearance of Sarah Michelle Gellar in a limited role. If you had told me this was a pseudo-remake of the film, I wouldn’t be surprised. Despite all of these connections, including an overall structure that’s very 90s-esque, the film doesn’t rely on that retro nostalgia to keep people engaged. The inspiration is there, and it’s great, but it focuses on paving its own story and fleshing out its own unique characters.
In the end, Do Revenge is a fun ride and an entertaining love letter to the 90s revenge flick, specifically Cruel Intentions. Heightened by the chemistry of Camila Mendes and Maya Hawke, there’s much to love about this layered narrative. More than just a standard revenge tale, there’s some great themes to latch onto and nice heartwarming moments throughout. With a strong story and a genuine surprise or two, this is a good watch if you’re in the market for a bit of a throwback.