A well-intentioned thriller that becomes tiresome after a while.
It’s intriguing to watch performers who portray superheroes lose their superpowers and play people who face “genuine” issues.
It’s intriguing to watch performers who portray superheroes lose their superpowers and play people who face “genuine” issues. Perhaps this is why, in the opening minutes of Sweet Girl, Jason Momoa (in his first non-Aquaman appearance in a major film since 2018’s Braven) breaks down after learning of the loss of a loved one, he feels far more vulnerable and helpless.
Momoa, with his disheveled long hair, also gets plenty of screen time to flaunt his now-famous physique in a number of violent scene pieces; I appreciated that these battles weren’t portrayed as heroic. On the other hand, whenever Momoa’s character engages in violence, these action sequences neither advance the plot nor provide enjoyable viewing, leaving us cold. This is maybe where Sweet Girl falters the most. This picture starts out great, with a powerful emotional core.
As Ray Cooper’s wife, Amanda (Adria Arjona), battles cancer, we watch Momoa’s Ray Cooper and his 18-year-old daughter, Rachel (an excellent Isabela Merced), disintegrate. When the family learns of the arrival of a new medicine, they feel hopeful. Their joy is short-lived, however, as Simon Keeley (Justin Bartha), the CEO of a pharmaceutical conglomerate, prevents the release of the medicine that may have saved Amanda.
A powerless and starved Ray confronts Simon over the phone on live television in a dramatic sequence that plays out like an echo of Taken’s iconic phone call scene. “It’s your death sentence if my wife dies. Ray declares, “I will hunt you down and murder you with my bare hands.” For the most part, this film follows our expectations. Ray goes on a murdering rampage with his daughter after deciding to uncover the corruption that led to his personal tragedy, and here is when the storey loses steam.
The appearance of a hitman (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) who is trailing the father-daughter combo fails to add tension to the situation. The action isn’t exciting enough to keep you interested, and the mystery isn’t strong enough to keep you interested for the whole length. As a result of these flaws, the picture fails as both an actioner and a thriller. Furthermore, the lack of novelty is exhausting.
Sweet Girl tries to elicit an emotional response from us, but despite having a slew of powerful components at its disposal—a bereaved family, an odd coming-of-age narrative, a tense father-daughter connection, and a mystery to solve—all it’s for naught. However, credit must be given where credit is due. The opening 30 minutes are jam-packed with information, and by the end, you’re left wondering what else the film has in store.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much of it, with the picture flitting from one pointless action sequence to the next. Barry Ackroyd’s purposely unsteady hand-held camera works in favour of the action scenes, frequently echoing the main protagonists’ hurry. Even at the most exhausting sections, Steven Price’s soundtrack keeps you going. A third-act twist, reminiscent of Alexandre Aja’s High Tension, is extremely unexpected and reveals a delicate side to a narrative that is previously all brawn.
However, it is too late to salvage this befuddled film. Despite the admirable goal of bringing the father-daughter relationship to the forefront, the conclusion appears to be a clearly contrived attempt. Sweet Girl is a well-intentioned picture with a few intriguing concepts, but it falls short of making them into an engaging viewing.
Brian Andrew Mendoza is the director.
Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Adria Arjona star in the film.
Netflix is where you can see it.