HOLLYWOOD—This film has been teased as a mind-bender and let me tell you it is indeed, but it’s not along the realm of the thriller “Get Out” or “Us” even though it was heavily advertised that way to draw the audience to the multiplex. I’m referring to the film “Don’t Let Go,” starring David Oyelowo. Jason Blum places his producing touch on the flick, and Blum has touched magic more than once: “Halloween,” “Happy Death Day,” “Us,” “Get Out,” just to name a few, but this is not one of them.
Why? Well, “Don’t Let Go” attempts to be too clever and in doing so it takes the audience on a journey where you get lost along the way, or find yourself questioning the realm of reality. Oyelowo stars as Detective Jack Ridcliff who is in mourning after his niece Ashley (Storm Reid) is murdered. This film plays with time and when you have a movie asking the audience to take a journey with them where time is a massive element of the narrative, it has to be carefully done in a way that is 1) easy to follow 2) not too complicated 3) has some sense of reality grounded with it.
“Don’t Let Go” falters on all three of those things. First, the audience knows that there is a ripple in the time realm where Jack is able to communicate with his niece in the past. He’s living in the present, but he has the opportunity to move a few elements in hopes of preventing the murder of his niece, her father, Garrett (Brian Tyree Henry) and her mother. I appreciated the flick not playing with the notion of a time loop.
I felt there were touches of “Happy Death Day” which relied on a time loop to change the outcome of each day, but that film had a touch of genius that this movie doesn’t deliver here. There are a few twists and surprises along the way, but if you pay close attention to the narrative; those hints of where the narrative is headed is not an actual surprise as a viewer. Oyelowo and Reid deliver solid performances, but they don’t help with a lackluster script that doesn’t fully convince the audience in my opinion to buy what they are being sold.
This is not “Memento,” “Happy Death Day” or a smart-thriller along the lines of “Fight Club.” I give the flick an A for effort, but a C- on execution. I went into the theater suspending reality, but even with that suspension, “Don’t Let Go” left me wishing I would have let go a long time after the movie started.