The Game of Thrones alum headlines a conventional on-the-run conspiracy thriller with a nonsensical final act twist
Getting their own sub-par Netflix action movie has become a rite of passage for both male and female actors regardless of fame, age or status, with Mark Wahlberg, Karen Gillan, Chris Hemsworth and Liam Neeson all recent recruits (upcoming inductees include Jessica Alba, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jennifer Lopez). This week, the Game of Thrones alum and Aquaman himself see Jason Momoa headlining, a smart move for the platform, and I imagine it will be an irresistible proposition for many viewers to watch him punch, kick, shoot and rage. against the bad guys, if they can make it as past the horrible title.
Sounds more like a teenage baker reality show, Sweet Girl actually refers to Rachel (Isabelle Merced), the daughter of Ray (Momoa), a working-class family man who is unraveling after a devastating tragedy. The family’s matriarch dies of cancer after a new drug is abruptly withdrawn from the market, the result of capitalist greed from an evil pharmaceutical company. Ray vows revenge against those who chose to make money rather than save lives and with his daughter for the ride, they embark on a perilous journey to find justice.
There’s something admirable in the initial intentions of a mass-market movie like this to confront and critique the amoral practices of big pharma, while also serving as a tantalizing reminder of how the US health care framework routinely crushes the poor. (oddly, it’s not the first Netflix B-movie to do this with similar references in Fractured, Spenser Confidential, and The Ice Road). It’s a surprisingly substantive jumping-off point (and makes for fun cameos from Justin Bartha as the soulless chief executive and Amy Brenneman as the ambitious politician) and takes us on a journey we can happily go after, ready to cheer for the gnarly demise of a grossly corrupt system. But thinly etched topicality only gets the film so far (the script is very “I read an article once”) and when the action mechanics kick into gear it’s even more of the same with very little to set it apart from the pack .
Last week, Netflix’s other man-on-the-run thriller of the month, Beckett, broke away by turning the protagonist into a believably awkward action hero, scrappy and uncoordinated, raising the stakes for us as audiences. But when you cast someone as intimidatingly hulking as Momoa playing a character who boxing in his spare time, we never really question how a showdown will go. There are few surprises in Sweet Girl as Momoa, convincingly charged, and Merced, building confidently on the comedic charm she showed in Instant Family and Let It Snow, move from one drab set to another, expertly filmed by the first director. Brian Andrew Mendoza but never threatens to speed up the pulse.
But in the final act, just as we think we know where we’re going, writers Philip Eisner, Gregg Hurwitz, and Will Staples throw a stunningly insane twist on it, which surprises us, but only because it makes the movie that preceded it completely nonsensical. . It’s like it was randomly picked at the last minute in a panic, a strange cheat of a revelation that would score big swing points if it wasn’t so badly embedded in the story around it. It’s hard to explain how it then crashes into the scenes that follow without spoiling it, but it’s based on so many suspensions of disbelief that a somewhat grounded corporate crime tale has now flown high into the sky, into the realm of bizarro fantasy. . But I worry about making Sweet Girl sound nicer than it actually is, because a quick WTF moment isn’t worth getting there and the clunky mess it leaves behind.
Sweet Girl is now available on Netflix
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