Bad Day For The Cut
Call me weird but, as a child, my ideas about revenge were formulated through many watchings of Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever. Shortly after the brutal murder of his parents by Two-Face, young, hot-headed Dick Grayson (AKA Robin) arrives on Bruce Wayne’s doorstep. He announces his plan to avenge his parents’ death by killing Two-Face, a plan he becomes more intent on after he finds out Bruce is Batman. He asks for Batman’s help but Bruce tries to talk him out of it, by saying, “You make the kill, but your pain doesn’t die with Harvey, it grows. So you run out into the night to find another face and another and another...until you wake up one terrible morning to realize that revenge has become your whole life...and you won’t know why”. From Batman I learned an important lesson: revenge is a disease that takes over you and, even when exacted, doesn’t leave you feeling better. It’s an beast that can’t ever be sated.
If only the characters in Chris Baugh’s Bad Day For The Cut took their cues from Batman.
Bad Day is a gritty, nasty piece of work from Northern Ireland, a place that once was mostly known for having a lot of sectarian violence and now perhaps is known as the place where a lot of Game Of Thrones is filmed (heck, there’s a couple of smaller GoT actors in this movie). It’s the story of a middle-aged man named Donal (Nigel O’Neill), a nice guy who still lives at home with his mom, Florence (Stella McKusker). She seems like a sweet old lady. He spends his days taking care of her, working on cars, and occasionally going down to the pub. There’s not a lot of excitement in his life, but he seems fairly content. One day a man gifts him an old caravan as a means of payment for Donal fixing up his car.
Donal falls asleep in the caravan when he’s woken by strange noises coming from the house. He rushes out to find a man in a fancy suit escaping in a car and his mom murdered on the living room floor. The murder is chalked up to being the result of a garden variety robbery/home invasion. But there’s more to this homicide than meets the eye. A few days after, Donal comes upon two scary dudes in masks who try to kill him. He makes quick work dispatching one of the toughs with a sledgehammer and a car hood and the other he takes captive, hoping he’ll lead him to his mother’s killer. We learn the young man he’s captured, Bartosz (Józef Pawlowski), is being blackmailed by the same people who killed Donal’s mom. They are holding his sister (Anna Prochniak) and forcing her into prostitution. Donal and Bartosz form an uneasy alliance - Donal will help Bartosz get his sister out in exchange for help avenging his mother’s murder.
From this point on things get increasingly violent as we go down the rabbit hole and find out more about the group of criminals who set these events in motion and their scary leader, a woman named Frankie (Susan Lynch). If there’s one thing I love in a movie, it’s a good lady crime boss. You don’t see a good lady crime boss in a lot of movies, sadly. But Frankie is suitably terrifying but also smart and practical and has many a great eye roll moment when all the men who work for her keep fucking shit up.
Bad Day For The Cut’s best moments are in its flashes of violence. Donal is a man who doesn’t look like he could murder a lot of people, but you’d be surprised at what he can do armed with nothing but a pot of beans and a taste for revenge. He doesn’t have the “special set of skills” that, say, Liam Neeson has, but he’s pretty darn creative with household items. It’s realistic violence - crude and messy. The movie also has one of the best opening scenes that I’ve seen in recent memory - ominously shot looking down at a hospital bed and what we don’t see in the frame is chilling. When the movie pauses to work on all of the backstory though, it loses a lot of momentum.
Batman probably wouldn’t approve, but there is something cathartic about a really good revenge movie. It’s a pleasantly simple kind of morality - something does something bad to you and you feel the need to get justice and restore that balance. Take Inglourious Basterds for instance. It just feels good watching a ton of Nazis get killed. It feels good watching Richard Spencer get punched in the face. On the other hand, in Bad Day everyone is looking for revenge of some kind. The kind of revenge outlined in this movie isn’t so simple for them - it’s complicated and endlessly bloody. It’s like Batman predicted - the pain doesn’t die, it grows. It takes over your whole life. Bad Day For The Cut isn’t a perfect film, but it’s an interesting, gorgeously shot, slice of violence.
Bad Day For The Cut is out now on DVD and Blu Ray