Revenge (1990 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tony Scott|
by Jim Harrison
|Music by||Jack Nitzsche|
|Cinematography||Jeffrey L. Kimball|
|Budget||$20 million|
|Box office||$15,535,771 (US)|
Revenge is a 1990 romantic thriller film directed by Tony Scott and starring Kevin Costner, Anthony Quinn, Madeleine Stowe, Miguel Ferrer and Sally Kirkland. Some scenes were filmed in Mexico. The film is a production of New World Pictures and Rastar Films and was released by Columbia Pictures. Revenge also features one of John Leguizamo's earliest film roles. The film is based on a novella written by Jim Harrison and published in Esquire magazine in 1979. Harrison, who also wrote Legends of the Fall, co-wrote the script.
Michael J. "Jay" Cochran is a retiring United States Naval Aviator who, after 12 years in the service, wants to relax and live one day at a time. He goes to Mexico, accepting a matched pair of Beretta shotguns and an invitation from his wealthy friend Tiburon "Tibey" Mendez to spend time at his hacienda in Mexico. Tibey is a powerful crime boss, constantly surrounded by bodyguards.
While trying to find the hacienda, Cochran meets a beautiful young woman riding a horse. She is Tibey's wife, Miryea, who lives in lavish surroundings but is unhappy because her much-older husband does not want children, feeling pregnancy would spoil her looks.
Jay is a welcome guest and presents his friend with a Navy G-1 leather flight jacket. But he rubs Tibey's suspicious right-hand man Cesar the wrong way by behaving independently and not acting like an employee. After a dinner Tibey conducts a private meeting with business associates while Miryea gets acquainted with Jay. She becomes attracted to him. The next day they share a private walk on the beach.
During a party, with Tibey and his men nearby, Jay and Miryea secretly have sex. Tension grows, as Jay is worried that Tibey will become aware of the situation. Miryea begs Jay not to leave. They arrange a secret rendezvous, Miryea pretending that she will be visiting a friend in Miami when she actually is going to accompany Jay to a remote cabin.
Cesar overhears a conversation in which Miryea asks her Miami friend to lie for her. Tibey visits Jay and invites him on a trip to the Beretta factory to custom-fit his new guns, but Jay declines. Tibey tells his friend goodbye. At the airport, Tibey also gives Miryea one last kiss. Jay is secretly waiting to drive her to the cabin.
At their hideaway, they are surprised by Tibey and his men. Jay's beloved dog is shot dead. Calling Miryea a "faithless whore", Tibey strikes her and cuts her across the mouth with a knife, as Tibey's henchmen viciously beat and kick Jay. After setting fire to the cabin, they dump Jay in the desert, and leave him to die.
Miryea is placed in a whorehouse, where she is drugged, abused, and relegated to "common use". The young man responsible for keeping her drugged has AIDS. As Miryea no longer wishes to live the life of a common prostitute, she persuades him to share a needle with her, thus infecting her.
Jay's unconscious body is discovered by a Mexican Good Samaritan, who slowly nurses him back to health. He returns to the burnt cabin and retrieves some money he had stashed away. His rescuer drives Jay to town and gives him a knife to "cut the balls off your enemy". He encounters a Texan delivering a horse, who offers Jay a ride in his car. Inside a cantina, Jay notices one of the thugs who had thrashed him; he follows him into the men's room and cuts his throat.
After a day on the road, the Texan, clearly ill, trades his horse to a wealthy man, who recognizes Jay from an afternoon at Tibey's estate. The friendly Texan dies in his car, apparently of tuberculosis.
At a motel, Jay runs across Amador, the brother-in-law of the Mexican Good Samaritan who had saved his life. Amador and his quiet friend, Ignacio, have their own issues with Tibey Mendez and are willing to help. They capture another of Tibey's henchmen, who tells them where Miryea can be found. Jay barges into the brothel to rescue her, only to find that she has been moved. No one but Tibey knows where she is.
Jay, Amador, and Ignacio ambush Tibey and his bodyguard on a trail. Jay is here for revenge, but first Tibey requests that Jay ask forgiveness for having stolen his wife.
Miryea is in a convent hospice, dying of AIDS. Jay arrives in time to tell Miryea that he loves her. He then carries her outside, Miryea then tells Jay that she loves him; moments before she dies in his arms.
- Kevin Costner as Michael J. "Jay" Cochran, a retiring United States Naval Aviator, Tibey's employee and Miryea's lover.
- Anthony Quinn as Tiburon "Tibby" Mendez, Miryea's husband.
- Madeleine Stowe as Miryea Mendez, Tibey's wife and Jay's lover.
- Tomas Milian as Cesar
- James Gammon as The Texan
- Jesse Corti as Madero
- Sally Kirkland as The Rock Star
- Miguel Ferrer as Amador
- John Leguizamo as Ignacio
The novella was published in 1979 along with two other novellas under the title Legends of the Fall. Esquire magazine published the novella Legends of the Fall in January 1979 and public response was so enthusiastic that Revenge was published in May. Warner Bros promptly bought the screen rights and hired Harrison to do the screenplay.
The project languished in development hell for eleven years. John Huston was to direct Jack Nicholson and then was attached to direct. Harrison later recalled he "wrote about 12 different endings to it". Walter Hill worked on the screenplay for a while.
Costner had an interest in the novella from the mid-1980s. "It seemed to me something I wanted to do myself," he said. "I contemplated directing it because it seemed like a small movie. The story was manageable, but the themes were big and universal, and the writing was tough and it was honest and it was original. There was poignance in the story, and it read like an original movie to me."
For a time it seemed John Huston might direct Costner in the film and the two men met; Huston was not impressed by the actor.
To me, it's like picking a football team. The story made sense, to play the game made sense, and it was obvious that I should play quarterback or end. I mean, Cochran is a role that I should play... The movie needed Anthony Quinn more than it needed me. I mean, there are probably five or six guys who could play Cochran's role, but who else is there who could play the role of Tibbey? The Tiburon character has to be really charming and Anthony has that in spades. He has to have danger and he has to have presence. Anthony has that because he's been a leading man all his life. And he has to be that age.
Principal shooting took place in several Mexican cities, including Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City. Production completed on December 14, 1988. The closing scene was shot at the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, one of several monasteries near the volcano Popocatapetl. Director Tony Scott would lend several assets from his prior making of Top Gun, including access to the Navy personnel to arrange footage of F-14s over rough desert terrain. Viewers would also recognize the familiar cockpit simulators in Revenge's opening sequence as those used in Top Gun.
Columbia released Revenge on VHS in August 1990. The version included on the 2007 DVD and Blu-ray releases is Tony Scott's director's cut, shorter by 30 minutes and running 104 minutes and includes expanded scenes as well as some deletions and additional scoring.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 33% of fifteen surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 4.1/10. Variety wrote, "This far-from-perfect rendering of Jim Harrison's shimmering novella has a romantic sweep and elemental power that ultimately transcend its flaws." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly rated it D and called it a vanity project for Costner. Roger Ebert, writing for The Chicago Sun-Times, rated it 2.5/4 stars and wrote that the film "plays like a showdown between its style and its story." Vincent Canby of The New York Times described it as "soft and aimless [...] the performances are without conviction." Hal Hinson of The Washington Post wrote that the story becomes so cynical that nothing has meaning.
"They pretty much shot the novella," said Harrison. "I was so swept away by it that I cried - I really did. And I"m not known for crying."
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