THE MOVIE GUY — Let’s not go to ‘Don’t Let Go’

Published 12:05 am Friday, August 30, 2019

The new movie “Don’t Let Go” first appeared at the “Sundance Film Festival” this past January. At the time it was being called “Relive,” but it tested so poorly with audiences that it was pulled, re-edited, given a new name and then quietly dumped into theaters just in time for the Labor Day weekend.

Suffice it to say that the studio doesn’t have high hopes for this film.

That may be a bit unfair, because while “Don’t Let Go” isn’t a very good film, neither is it a complete bomb. The film’s time travel plot is a bit confused, but that’s nothing new for the films in this genre. More importantly, David Oyelowo and Storm Reid are charismatic enough to make audiences forget about all the other things that don’t quite work in the movie.

Oyelowo plays a police officer who is shocked to find that his brother (Bryan Tyree Henry) and beloved niece (Reid) have been murdered. His search for the killer is interrupted by a phone call.

It turns out that his murdered niece is calling him from two weeks in the past.

The bulk of the movie revolves around the detective trying to unmask the killer and save his niece by giving her past-self instructions via her time traveling telephone. It’s a loopy premise that offers some simple thrills, even while most audiences will be left wondering why our detective hero doesn’t just tell his niece to skip town with the family, avoiding her upcoming murder all together.

Of course, that would negate the entire premise of the film, which does offer a few minor pleasures. Oyelowo is a superb actor, and he does a solid job with his mostly reactionary role. By the same token, Reid also delivers a good performance playing the incredulous niece who ends up fighting for her survival. These two actors almost provide enough of a reason for audiences to make the trip to the theater this weekend.

Almost.

Despite the performances, the film fails to generate any genuine thrills. It’s a bland crime thriller with implausible sci fi trappings. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s genuinely bad, but it’s certainly not something that will command your attention.

Perhaps that’s a good thing, as most people will have better things to do over the Labor Day weekend. Don’t skip the backyard barbecue in favor of this mediocre movie. Stay home and enjoy your weekend, knowing that we have much better movies coming along over the next few weeks.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are each week in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@sbgtv.com.