Newton native B.J. Novak, best known for his role as Ryan on NBC’s “The Office,” has taken the creative reins in his most recent projects. He created a satirical anthology show “The Premise” for FX, and this week marks his film directorial debut with another dark comedy: “Vengeance.”
Novak pulls double duty as both the director and star of “Vengeance,” playing a smug, entitled millennial stereotype named Ben, a Brooklyn writer. When a girl he hooked up with a few times but barely remembers turns up dead and he is inexplicably (in Ben’s eyes, anyway) invited to the funeral, he travels to West Texas in the hopes of turning the saga into a podcast. Once he’s made it to her small Texas hometown in his rented Prius, Ben realizes there’s more to the story and the people he had pre-judged.
Early critical response to the film, which opens July 29, has been positive. So far, review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes has awarded “Vengeance” a 79 percent freshness rating at the time of this article’s publication.
That said, a single number can’t adequately capture the range of critical response, and many of the reviews coded as “fresh” or “rotten” by the critical aggregation site have a bit more nuance. To help you judge whether to rush to theaters starting Thursday afternoon, here’s what some of the top film critics are saying, both good and bad, about “Vengeance.”