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Imagine a Misery inspired movie in which the author was a psychiatrist and the crazed fan was someone who deeply needed their help with grief.
Trigger Warning(s): Torture Scenes
Review (with Spoilers)
When it comes to some actors, there is just a go to style which seems to fit them well. For Will Smith, it is the likable and approachable Black guy; Denzel Washington, as of late, recycles his Training Day persona; and then there is Forest Whitaker who usually plays off-putting characters. This one is no different but, with a character which reminded me of Kathy Bates in Misery, the question is whether his portrayal as Angel was good, or just another awkward character of his to write off?
Characters & Story
A man with mental issues named Angel (Forest Whitaker) has lost his mom; his wife, to a point; and now all he has is his house and daughter. So needless to say, he is troubled. But there is one man he believes can help him: that man is Tommy Carter (Anthony Mackie) whose self-help book dealing with his brush with death seems to have had a profound effect on Angel. But as Angel reveals his demons, Tommy finds himself facing off with them and his own which involve wife Maggie (Sanaa Lathan), as well as Ben (Mike Epps). Leaving us with a film which makes it seem that Tommy may have taken on Angel’s problems a bit too lightly.
As always, Whitaker playing an unnerving character just fits. It pretty much has been his signature, to me anyway, since Jason’s Lyric in the 90s. And in this movie, he is not only off-putting but a bit frightening as well. Arguably, Whitaker could probably play, with the right script, an iconic fictional villain again and perhaps set a precedent people would be trying to match for years. Though it should be noted, the rest of the cast surely aren’t slacking. Mackie holds his own against Whitaker and does attempt to compete for intensity. But you can see Whitaker’s veteran status definitely gives him the upper hand.
When it comes to the story, though, it does require you to be a tad bit open-minded. For one, Whitaker as Angel is so off-putting that it is hard to understand why Tommy would allow himself to be alone with this man. Then, when you add in Lathan and Epps’ characters, you see a side-story there which isn’t fully cohesive with the main story. For one, it doesn’t act well as a break between Angel’s mad moments, nor does it really draw you into either Lathan or Epps’ characters fully. And two, as much as I understand they are there to beef up Tommy, neither character is written, or maybe portrayed, to the point you really care about them. Lathan’s character, to me, barely evolves past being a shallow love interest. Then with Epps, who honestly I am just not fond of as an actor, not only are you given this brash and utterly unappealing character, but the attempt at giving him a proper backstory to draw sympathy out of you just feels utterly weak.
Overall: TV Viewing
Though I am not highly fond of either Lathan or Epps’ characters, their place in the film hardly takes away from Whitaker and Mackie’s story. If anything, Epps and Lathan are like a pickle which comes with your burger which wasn’t asked for. But overall I am labeling this as “TV Viewing” since even though I like Whitaker and Mackie in this movie, honestly neither pushes the story to a place where it makes this “Worth Seeing.” It is decent to spend some time with, especially if you are a fan of anyone involved, but this surely isn’t the highlight of any of their careers. Just another film and another paycheck.