Don’t Let Go (***) rides on pure talent

Don’t Let Go – 2019

Written and Directed by Jacob Aaron Estes
Starring David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Byron Mann, Mykelti Williamson, David Tyree Henry, Alfred Molina, Shinelle Azoroh

I have been a fan of Mykelti Williamson since I first saw him in The First Power as the Lou Diamond Phillips’ partner. The movie was bad, his role was small, but his presence loomed large. He’s been in a hundred things before and since, including Forrest Gump as Bubba. He’s always a light on the screen and it’s a surprise the has not become a movie or television (see Justified) star.

He is again the partner in Don’t Let Go. This time he’s teamed up with Oyelowo. They are both police detectives. Oyelowo is Bobby Radcliff. He has a special relationship with his niece Ashley (Reid) that is encouraged by the recklessness of his brother Garrett (Henry). Every time Garrett messes up, Ashley calls her Uncle. Bobby is there to bail everyone out and give his brother the grief about it.

Bobby gets one call while at work that he is confused by. He heads there after work and immediately discovers the whole family has been murdered. In his grieving process, he prays that he had one more chance to save Ashley.

The next thing we see, he gets a call from his niece’s cell phone. Then another. Finally he answers and discovers that he is talking to his niece…in the past. Ashley is just living her life. She has no concept of what role she is playing in solving who is going to murder her and her family. Bobby begins to walk the line in searching to solve the mystery while not freaking her out and losing her as an ally.

The story has the feeling of DÉJÀ VU, the Tony Scott / Denzel Washington masterpiece. The best thing about both films is they don’t go out of their way to explain the psychic MacGuffin being used to serve the plot. Ebert’s law of economy of characters solves the plot twist easily enough to make the film ride on the exceptionally talented cast.

There isn’t much to complain about when one gets to see such talent push through a story that can only go so far. One drawback is the soundtrack, which appears to use the same three notes ad naseum through most of the film. Overall, it’s a decent enough movie for a one time through, made better with the most screen time I have seen anyone give to Williamson in years.

(*** out of *****)

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