Vengeance: reviews, trailer, plot, cast and everything we know

BJ Novak and Boyd Holbrook stand over a grave in Vengeance
(Image credit: Patti Perret/Focus Features)

B.J. Novak might be best known as Ryan from The Office, but the talented multihyphenate writer-actor-director-producer is bringing his first feature film to life with Vengeance. Fans of Novak’s dark humor, witty writing and ability to flawlessly lampoon the modern day zeitgeist with reckless abandon will find lots to like in Vengeance.

Here’s everything you need to know about Vengeance.  

Reviews and things to note about Vengeance

Vengeance is rated R and has a run time of 1:47. 

Reviews have been positive, with the movie scoring an 80% rating among Rotten Tomatoes critics to earn a Certified Fresh score. 

ABC News' Peter Travers praised Novak's efforts: "As actor, writer and debuting director, a seriously funny B.J. Novak takes aim at an America broken by disconnection. He doesn’t hit every target, but when he does this tale of a New York liberal battling Texas gun nuts comes alive with mirth and menace."

Time's Stephanie Zacharek acknowledges that there are some holes in the movie, but it's still fun: "Novak has so many threads going that he doesn’t quite know how to tie them up. But he’s made a shrewd satire that’s a pleasure to watch."

Speaking of holes, the biggest critique seems to be that Vengeance throws a lot out into the world but doesn't quite tie it all up by the end. As Collider's Ross Bonaime points out, "Novak’s pseudo-mystery would certainly be better if it focused on one of his ideas, as opposed to throwing anything he can think of to the wall and seeing what sticks."'s Matt Zoller Seitz sums it up well: "A jumbled, fitfully amusing, occasionally fascinating effort, but one that shows promise even when stumbling over its ambition."

When is the Vengeance release date?

Vengeance premiered in select US theaters on July 29. There is no UK release date available as yet.

The film had its world premiere as the Centerpiece Gala film at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival on June 12. 

What is the plot of Vengeance?

Ben Manolowitz is a New York journalist and podcaster who learns that Abilene, a woman with whom he’d been informally hooking up, was found dead from an apparent opioid overdose. When he travels to her hometown in West Texas, the New Yorker discovers a whole new world and a cast of characters who inspire him to stick around a bit longer than planned. 

Abilene’s family and friends all think she was murdered even though Ben thinks her cause of death is pretty cut and dry. The more time he spends in Texas, the more he starts to believe there’s a story to tell about the circumstances surrounding her mysterious death. He agrees to record everything and create a podcast (as one does) so that they can find the truth. 

The search for the truth leads Ben and his new companions on an eye-opening journey that can only come from the mind of B.J. Novak. 

Who is in the Vengeance cast?

B.J. Novak toplines an extraordinary cast that includes Issa Rae (Insecure), Ashton Kutcher (That 70s Show), Boyd Holbrook (Logan), J. Cameron Smith (Margaret) and Dove Cameron (Liv and Maddie). 

Is there a trailer for Vengeance?

The Vengeance trailer features Novak’s Ben explaining that he’s gone to West Texas because a girl he hooked up with has died and while he didn’t think they were close it seems as though her family had other ideas. 

As trailers go, the Vengeance trailer is the perfect encapsulation of what the movie is about without revealing too much. It also showcases Novak's ability to take hold of Texas icons like Whataburger or the next-to-impossible task for an outsider to figure out which Texas school to root for and turn it into comedy gold. 

How many hats did B.J. Novak wear in Vengeance? 

Novak, who is widely known from his time on The Office and The Mindy Project, has had a prolific career in television as an actor, writer, producer and director. 

Vengeance marks his first feature film. Novak wrote the script and also served as the director while appearing as the film’s star.  

Sarabeth Pollock
Editorial Content Producer


Sarabeth joined the What to Watch team in May 2022. An avid TV and movie fan, her perennial favorites are The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, true crime documentaries on Netflix and anything from Passionflix. You’ve Got Mail, Ocean's Eleven and Signs are movies that she can watch all day long. She's also a huge baseball fan, and hockey is a new favorite.  

When she's not working, Sarabeth hosts the My Nights Are Booked Podcast and a blog dedicated to books and interviews with authors and actors. She also published her first novel, Once Upon an Interview, in 2022.