I guess I should have known better.
In general, I hate revenge movies, since looking around and without much difficulty, I can find a lot more and better reasons for people, or groups of people, to take revenge or fight back. Hell, I could find better reasons in my own life. At essence, the genre is a displacement of political and ideological tensions, at least for audiences in the States, so even when filmmakers are more honest about what they’re doing and the types of fears and wish fulfillments they’re playing with, these projects still leave a bad taste in my mouth.
I suppose you could argue that making the protagonist a suffering, mild-mannered, self-righteous homeless dweeb who doesn’t know what the fuck he is doing but nevertheless seems pretty good at killing people is subversive, but it’s a circular argument, a reflexive one, and it critiques itself.
Think of it this way. If we’d add up the screen time devoted to pointing out the hollowness of the revenge taken and compare that to the amount of screen time devoted to building conventional suspense and drama, sticking knives in some dude’s temple, getting shot with an arrow and having to give oneself first aid, learning how to shoot, and on and on, I think we’d have to be honest and realize that far more time is devoted to the latter than to the former, and that the former is used mostly to help us feel better about enjoying the latter.
I guess what I’m saying is that there is no moral way to make a revenge movie like this and still have audiences leave the theater exhilarated. So either shut up and have a good time, or don’t. I didn’t, not even for the pretty compositions.