Kevin Costner in his early days managed to convey a rawness to his characters that was seldom seen after he made "Dances with Wolves" and became a successful producer. Films such as "No Way Out" (1987), "Bull Durham" (1988) and of course "Revenge" (1990) showed him when he was trying to establish his career and you could feel the actor at work rather than the movie maker.
In "Revenge" Costner plays US Navy pilot Michael "Jay" Cochran who is retiring after 12 years in the service. He seems to have lost direction and wants to take some time out for himself. He plans first to go and see his old friend and Tennis partner Tiburon "Tibby" Mendez (Anthony Quinn) who is a powerful mob boss in Mexico. Exactly why they are friends is a little unclear but it seems that Tibby owes Jay a debt for saving his life at some point in the past. Once Jay arrives at the Mendez Hacienda he meets Miryea (Madeleine Stowe) Tibby's wife. Instantly attracted to one another and although initially fighting the chemistry between them, they begin an affair, which comes with massive consequences.
This film has elements of "The Wild Bunch" (1969) to it and the location shooting in Mexico adds so much to the atmosphere and tensity of the story. There are seamy and claustrophobic qualities to many of the situations which are enhanced beautifully by the background. The acting is nicely understated, Costner manages to display a barely restrained anger throughout the second part of the film and Anthony Quinn is convincing as the superficially charming but totally ruthless mobster. Madelaine Stowe is OK as the female lead but struggles with a Mexican accent and seems a bit uncomfortable with the innocence that her character is supposed to portray.
"Revenge" was commercially unsuccessful but is one of those movies that deserves to be seen. Costner, being an actor of limited range, was always best at these type of roles. When he behaves rather than acts, you get to see the best of him.
If I have any complaints, I believe the denouement of the story, although certainly interesting, doesn't quite fit. The build up to it promises something more of a violent showdown and the character of Jay would seem by this point to be poised to take his "revenge". Perhaps the downbeat finish was done to avoid "going Hollywood" with a big finale and as i mentioned it is certainly effective, but leaves a general feeling that there is business still to be done.
An interesting and entertaining movie that is well worth viewing.