Righteous Villains is an occult thriller with influences ranging from Guy Ritchie to Darren Aronofsky. The film blends gritty action with supernatural forces in this odyssey of saints and sinners from the criminal underworld to covert black masses. Writer and director Savvas D. Michael puts style and soundtrack on full display as audiences discover what happens when you “meet the devil at the crossroads.”
Jeremiah (Jamie Crew) and Jolie (Lois Brabin-Platt), lowly criminals from the streets of London, are the two least likely to be summoned to save a child from the devil himself. After being recruited by Adrestos (Cavin Cornwall), Jeremiah and Jolie must travel to a mysterious island and seek the Prince of Darkness. In exchange for their service, Jolie hopes to be reunited with her deceased husband; Jeremiah desires to be acquainted with one-million pounds in his bank account. The two face temptations, secret societies, and all of hell’s fury in this ode to the unnatural.
The first twenty minutes of this movie had me completely hooked. The narration by Jamie Crew as Jeremiah is so sharp and rhythmic that it will make any Tarantino fan take notice. The superb opening dialogue is instantly expanded on in the rich, fast-paced backstories of our two “righteous villains.” The dialogue is funny, quick, and has an almost sinister whimsy in every syllable. From Jeremiah describing his daily cons on the naïve to Jolie’s life as a gun-slinging ex-prostitute, the film has an incredible opening.
“In exchange for their service, Jolie hopes to be reunited with her deceased husband…”
Despite its excellent first-act, Righteous Villains begins to lose momentum once Jeremiah and Jolie accept their mission to rescue the child. For all the style and humor the movie’s opening brought, the remainder of the film feels very inconsistent. We essentially follow the two less-than-heroes around the island to very little end. This dramatic shift in tone and structure causes the movie to lose a lot of the charm and intrigue established at the beginning. By the time the film concludes, the ending is very abrupt and feels anti-climactic since the second act does little to set up the finale we receive.
Righteous Villains is a great concept. The beginning oozes style from every pore, but ultimately, I felt let down as the story went on. I wanted to love this film, especially after Jolie’s barroom shoot-out and Jeremiah’s monologue justifying his theft. Unfortunately, the screeching halt to the first act’s momentum, and the unceremonious ending left me longing for more from the beginning.
Righteous Villains is a unique story that does bring a lot to the table, but most of its accomplishments occur with 50-minutes still left in the movie. While I was disappointed by the second half, I will always fondly look back on the adrenaline rush of Jeremiah and Jolie’s first scenes.