‘Do Revenge’ review: Maya Hawke and Camila Mendes are young strangers on a train that runs out of steam

The most obvious inspiration for this second film from director Jennifer Kaytin Robinson (Netflix’s “Someone Great”) would be Alfred Hitchcock’s oft-copied “Strangers on a Train,” as a pair of high school students meet only to realize their anger is simmering. different people and discuss the possibility of teaming up to take revenge against them.

However, the plot (based on a screenplay by Robinson and Celeste Ballard) doesn’t pursue this compelling prospect very convincingly, which may explain why it stalls. The film is indebted to many other teen fare, such as “Cruel Intentions,” the same adaptation of the French novel that became “Dangerous Liaisons.”

It’s mostly a story of unlikely friendship, set against the backdrop of another private school, where the parties make Roman bacchanals seem modest and pale in comparison. The cast is packed with talent from other franchises, and there’s also a little bit more to do with high schoolers, including Austin Abrams (“Euphoria”), Alisha Boe (“13 Reasons Why”) and a small cameo, Sophie Turner (“Game of Thrones”).

Describing herself as “two wounded soldiers on the battlefield of adolescence,” Mendes’ Drea is the queen bee at the top of the social strata, despite being a scholarship student in this wealth and privilege. She directs her anger at dreamy ex-boyfriend Max (Abrams), who leaks an explicit tape of her, while Hawke’s Eleanor nurses an old grudge against a girl who made a false accusation against her.

“Nothing in this story is what it seems,” Drea warns in voiceover near the beginning, which should be a twist to come, as he and Eleanor take turns as narrators, which works until, toward the end, it doesn’t. .

Netflix has seen great success in the teen genre, from romance to thrillers, including previous projects featuring popular stories like “Cyrano de Bergerac.” But “Do Revenge” starts down that path before taking a significant detour, a strategy that’s not bad in theory, but loses something in execution.

Granted, casting probably represents half the battle, and Mendes and Hawke have a solid showcase, one that doesn’t stray too far from their series characters.

Also, “Do Revenge” isn’t about stretching conventions, it’s about finding another wrinkle in what has become an established formula. It does, but for a movie where the characters often talk about their Ivy League aspirations, creatively speaking, it falls into the safety school category.

“Do Revenge” premieres September 16 on Netflix.