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THE MOVIE GUY — Don’t mess with grandma in Let Him Go

Let Him Go

Focus Features

Directed by Thomas Bezucha

Starring Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Leslie Manville, Booboo Stewart and Jeffrey Donovan

Rated R

 

3 Stars

 

Diane Lane and Kevin Costner team up to play avenging grandparents in the new B-movie thriller, Let Him Go.

This is a film that’s part pulp Western and part gritty action thriller, with a lot of Big Sky country thrown in to fill things out. It’s an uneven ride, but thanks to some solid acting performances, there’s enough here to recommend the film.

Lane and Costner play Margaret and George Blackledge, a retired couple living in Montana with their son, his wife and their young grandson.

It’s an idyllic situation until tragedy strikes and before you have time to take a breath, the daughter in law has remarried, this time to an abusive man who takes his new wife and stepson across state lines into North Dakota.

Margaret doesn’t seem to care about the fate of her former daughter in law, but the grandson is a different story. She grabs a pistol, hops in the family station wagon and sets off to retrieve her grandson.

George agrees to come along on the adventure.

Try not to think about the fact that these two are planning on kidnapping their grandson and taking him away from his mother. Lane and Costner are the heroes, after all, so this is posed as a noble quest rescue a child from the despicable people who have stolen their blood relative.

Chief among the family of villains is the matriarch, Blanche, played with over-the-top gusto by Leslie Manville. She’s a hard-driving woman with a chip on her shoulder. She doesn’t hesitate to order her sons into battle in order to get what she wants.

That puts her into direct conflict with Margaret. It soon becomes a fight to the death between these two grandmothers, with the men folk being used as pawns in a matricidal chess game.

It would all be rather silly if not for the formidable talents of Lane and Manville, who make Let Him Go into such a satisfying little story.

Costner is OK, too, but this movie is all about the ladies.

Unfortunately, these fun acting moments and interspersed with long stretches where nothing really happens. Some new characters appear, but they don’t add much to the drama.

This story is based on a novel by Larry Watson, so perhaps these supporting characters had a bigger impact in the book, but they are mostly wasted in the film.

This is a western, so bullets inevitably start to fly, and given how the filmmakers set up these characters in such black-and-white terms, there’s never any doubt as to which grandma is going to win.

Let Him Go is being released in movie theaters, but it’s not expected to make much of a splash. It is just a pulpy thriller that is probably destined for greater success on home streaming or cable TV reruns. Still, there’s a guilty pleasure to be found in watching two formidable actresses squaring off against each other.

The message is clear. Don’t mess with grandma.

 

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