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If you have seen a suspense thriller like this before, don’t expect anything new being done.
Trigger Warning(s): Domestic Violence/ Violence Against Women
Review (with Spoilers)
When a movie gets delayed for a full year, usually that is a big warning sign when it comes to the quality of the film. Though also the issue sometimes can be seen as the actors not having the type of names which you feel can be bankable. However, with Taraji P. Henson having done everything from mainstream films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Karate Kid to films like Baby Boy, I Can Do Bad All By Myself and Hustle & Flow, it is hard to understand why this film was pushed back. Add on that Idris Elba, who between Thor, Pacific Rim, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom has shown he is talented, and usually bankable, it makes it increasingly odd this film was set back a year. To see if it was for good reason, read below.
Characters & Story
After 5 years for manslaughter, Colin (Idris Elba) has become eligible for parole. Thing is, his manslaughter charge is just what the courts knew they could charge him with. The crime everyone really thinks he should have went down for dealt with him likely killing 5 women. However, with no evidence to support that case, him getting into a bar fight and killing someone was the best they could get. But, while at his parole hearing, one man stops him from getting freedom and with that, Colin snaps a little bit. So, like the cunning criminal he is, he finds a way to escape the minimum security vehicle which transported him to the parole board, and he finds himself going to see his ex-girlfriend Alexis (Kate del Castillo).
But with her moving on, he finds himself off to find the man she is messing around with. On the way, though he ends up crashing his car, due to a storm, and meeting Terri (Taraji P. Henson) and her friend Meg (Leslie Bibb). And, at first, he comes off utterly charming. In fact, with Terri having an unhappy marriage to husband Jeffrey (Henry Simmons), the attention and flirting almost makes you think Colin may go for Black girls. However, as time wears on, so does Colin’s charm and lies lead to him being discovered. Thus setting into motion a game in which Terri, as well as her kids, seem to have their lives in danger. Though with Terri ready to fight tooth and nail for the life of her kids, and herself, it becomes a battle between the 6’2 Colin and 5’4 Terri for survival.
Outside of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and his small part in Thor: The Dark World, I haven’t seen much of Idris Elba when it comes to his movies. I have seen him in interviews, .gif sets, and have listened to many women, and men, compliment him, but I haven’t seen him performed much as an actor. Though, like with Long Walk to Freedom, the man shows he can be a charming son of a gun. Almost to the point where, if just for a moment, you almost forget all we have been told about Colin in the movie. For as Colin attempts to seduce Meg and Terri, a part of you forgets this is not a romance movie.
As for Henson, I have never watched Person of Interest, but with her seemingly being a tough as nails cop on the show, you can see she brought a bit of that character to Terri. For while Terri is a damn fool for around half of the movie, when she starts to click into survival mode, little Taraji seems like she could actually take on Elba and if not win, at least do enough damage where it would be hard to say who was the victim.
But while the actors try to compensate for the plot and weak characters, they aren’t good enough to make it seem that writer Aimee Lagos wasn’t using a checklist while writing the script. For, in what perhaps was a strangely funny moment, before the movie, there was a trailer for Jennifer Lopez’s new movie The Boy Next Door, and I’ll be damned if 2-3 lines Lopez said in the trailer were in the film. Cliché lines like “Why are you doing this?” “You don’t have to do this” And the type of lines we have heard so many times that at this point, using them seems so lazy. Though what I especially didn’t like is how Terri seemed so much like the proverbial white girl in a horror movie. She lets herself be vulnerable to a stranger by telling him her husband isn’t home; she lets him into the house, and gives him time to case it; and then the biggest issue: After he reveals his true nature, she never finishes him off. She hits him and runs and leaves you infuriated since, with Terri being a former lawyer, who ironically used to put away criminals like Colin, you think she would do what she could to him to the fullest extent of the law.
Overall: TV Viewing
As full of clichés as it is, including the big twist which you likely will have suspected throughout most of the movie, the movie isn’t horrible. You will get into it, Terri and Colin will get a rise out of you, and damn if it isn’t satisfying to watch her fight back. However, the story feels run of the mill, the twist makes you roll your eyes, and while it isn’t bad enough to justify being pushed back a year, I can see why they waited to a weak weekend like this to release it. Either way, this is definitely a TV Viewing type of movie due to lack of originality, but quality performances from the stars.