A dish best served cold

Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Carroll O'Connor and a cigar.

MGM Studios

A dish best served cold

I was feeling surly recently, so I dialed up “revenge movies” on the streaming gizmo.

There are a lot of revenge movies.

I skipped obvious titles that I’ve seen multiple times, like the “Death Wish” flicks starring Charles Bronson.

But I didn’t skip John Boorman’s oddball entry from 1967, “Point Blank,” in which Walker (Lee Marvin, wearing a very sturdy pair of wingtips) wreaks all kinds of havoc in order to recover the $93,000 that was his share of a previous caper.

This was the 1960s, so the film’s story is “non-linear,” meaning the viewer wonders what the heck is going on.

But who cares when you’ve got Angie Dickinson wearing as little as the producers thought they could get away with, and bad guys like Carroll O’Connor and John Vernon.

William Lustig’s 1982 “Vigilante” is a coherent film that stars Robert Forster as Eddie, a regular guy pushed to extremes by indifferent policing and general societal breakdown.

Here we get into what is critical in a revenge movie: The hero has to pretty much kill everybody and break everything.

This one gets bonus points for giant land yachts and overall greasiness.

Brian Helgeland’s 1999 “Payback,”, based on a novel by Donald Westlake (as is “Point Blank”), has Mel Gibson rampaging around the nameless city that just happens to look a lot like New York in order to get back at the creep who double-crossed him on a heist and left him for dead.

This one has kinky sex, always a plus when you’re in a bad mood, and like “Point Blank,” the hero has a similar obsession with recovering the exact amount of money — no more, no less.

He also kills everybody and blows up what he doesn’t break.

Moving into a contemporary mode, there are three more or less current franchise films that explore the revenge angle.

The “Taken” series, starring Liam Neeson as retired CIA guy Bryan Mills, starts with Mills’ daughter getting kidnapped in Paris by Albanian sex-trafficking thugs. Mills hops on a plane and kills everybody in creative ways and breaks everything. Oh, and gets his daughter back.

But one of the Albanian thugs has a grieving father who’s got the same general idea as Mills when it comes to killing everybody, etc.

This forms the basis for the imaginatively titled “Taken 2.”

In the third installment, Mills is framed for the death of his ex. There’s some unnecessary plot involved, but Mills gets to waterboard his deceased ex’s smarmy second husband and eventually wipes out the sinister Russian mobster.

What’s fun about these flicks is Mills’ ability to MacGyver, or to find simple solutions to knotty problems.

MacGyver used a Swiss Army knife a lot. Mills, when trying to prevent the private plane from taking off, simply crashes the stolen Porsche into the plane’s landing gear.

Would an ordinary Toyota or Subaru have done the trick? Sure, but viewers can crash their own regular cars. How often do you get the chance to destroy a Porsche?

John Wick is wet again.Lions Gate Entertainment

The soaking wet Keanu Reeves stars in the four “John Wick” movies, which are darn near interchangeable. John Wick is a retired assassin but this idiot son of a Russian gangster steals his restored Mustang and kills his puppy, which is good for about 12 hours total of mayhem and destruction in several parts of the world.

These locations have one thing in common — it is almost always night, and it has just rained.

And if there is any chance for John Wick to get drenched, he does.

The momentum lags by the time you get to the fourth flick, which spends at least 40 minutes in kung fu exercises in neon-lit rooms featuring lots of easily broken glass stuff.

Denzel Washington is the star of the “Equalizer” series, as another one of these retired CIA hitmen, Robert McCall.

He works in hardware stores and as a rideshare driver, but darn it all, he keeps running into injustice, which requires killing everybody and breaking everything.

This knight-errantry requires a more subtle touch from director Antoine Fuqua, who spends more time showing McCall drinking tea than seems absolutely necessary.

There are three of these movies, and darned if I didn’t feel just about revenged out by the time the credits rolled on the third.

The revenge movie exercise took about two weeks, and there were numerous flicks that did not make the cut. As a general rule, I avoided anything that has been mocked by the guys at Rifftrax, and I did not go back to the black and white era, when you couldn’t throw a brick without hitting someone en route to a showing of a revenge movie.

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