from Filmfour.com (thanks Spoot)
British director Alex Cox takes on the bloody madness of Thomas Middleton's 17th century play. Christopher Eccleston stars as the man seeking revenge for the murder of his wife and ruin of his family by Derek Jacobi's villainous Duke
Alex Cox, the Liverpool-born filmmaker (Repo Man, Sid & Nancy) and former TV presenter (BBC2's 'Moviedrome') turns his to attention to the very bloody business of Thomas Middleton's Jacobean play, first published in 1607, in this, his first British feature. Middleton was a Shakespeare collaborator - he's suspected to have worked on 'Macbeth'. Revengers Tragedy shares many of the Scottish play's elements - notably personal advancement and murder. Michael Winterbottom collaborator Frank Cottrell Boyce (he wrote Welcome To Sarajevo and 24 Hour Party People) and Cox have updated the play to a near future where swathes of the British Isles - including the entire southeast - are drowned and feudal rulers have their seat in Liverpool.
Vindici (Eccleston) is returning to Liverpool to seek revenge against the current ruler, Duke (Jacobi). Duke, a media magnate whose image has an Orwellian ubiquity, had murdered Vindici's wife 10 years before on their wedding day ("because she would not consent to his lust"), forcing our hero into exile and his family into ruin. Vindici is hardly a level-headed chap - he talks to his wife's skull for starters - but he's maniacally focussed. To achieve his revenge he enlists his brother Carlo (Schofield), deviously befriends Duke's eldest son, Lussurioso (Izzard) and sows seeds of discord with a mordant merriment.
Considering the script is a bizarre hybrid of Jacobean idiom and modern slang, the plot relies on conventional stage ploys of not recognising a relative, the costumes include everything from haute couture to hopelessly camp cyberpunk and the director's sensibilities are vintage 1970s punk, Revengers Tragedy works remarkably well. This comes down in no small part to to the willful vision of Cox (who cameos, as Duke's chauffeur) but this is assisted by strong turns from Jacobi, Eccleston and Izzard. That the source play is a prototypical black comedy helps too - it is riddled with grim humour ("There's no advantage to the killing of a younger brother" mutters Duke's second son disdainfully when he hears his younger brother has been executed.)
A film so full of those timeless dramatic favourites sex and violence and so uniquely energised that it's more than the sum of its many, varied parts.