Saturday, December 21, 2019

Movie Reviews: Don't Let Go

Don't Let Go
directed by Jacob Aaron Estes
This is a nifty little film that raises some questions about causality and predestination. Unfortunately the writing is not quite up to the level I expected, leading to some cliches and predictability in the film's final section.

Although my understanding is that some advanced physics argues that our perception of time is limited and in some respects "wrong", for humans time only moves in one direction, forward. We can't unbreak the egg. We can't journey back in time with knowledge of the winning lottery ticket or with massively advanced medical knowledge that will save a parent afflicted with heart disease or cancer. 

Our cells decay and eventually break down. We can't turn back the clock on that process.  We can't warn our past selves not to take certain actions that later proved to be very poor decisions. Nope. What's done is done and can't be changed. Period.

But what if that wasn't the case? What if the batter's current day self had knowledge transferred from the future of exactly where the pitcher would throw the ball? And thus, so armed with such knowledge he could change the future? Or at least change one possible future? 

Another quirk derived from some physics theories is that there are an infinite number of futures which are each built from the decisions that every human being has ever made at every single point in his or her life. Don't Let Go asks what would happen if information could be transmitted both ways between the past and future.

Jack Radcliffe (David Oyelowo) is a Los Angeles homicide detective with no children of his own. However like many people in that situation he has become a surrogate parent to a younger relative. 

In Jack's case that younger relative is his teen niece Ashley (Storm Reid), his brother Garrett's (Brian Tyree Henry) daughter. 

Garrett is a decent person but someone with past drug and mental issues. Of late he's forgotten to pick up Ashley from the theater. Upon receiving a call from Ashley, Jack picks her up and later (offscreen) has a few choice words with his younger brother. Ashley is the apple of Jack's eye.

The next day Jack receives two calls from Ashley. The first is one thanking him for speaking with her father. The second call indicates that Ashley is in some sort of trouble, bad trouble. Racing to his brother's house, Jack discovers that everyone, his brother, his sister-in-law and Ashley are all dead. His fellow cops, including his partner Bobby (Mykelti Williamson), think that it's a murder-suicide. They think that Garrett fell back into his old ways and just snapped. 

The copious amounts of cocaine found around Garrett's body would seem to support that hypothesis. Jack can't accept that but lost in massive depression he can't really bring himself to look into things more deeply.

That is Jack can't bring himself to look into things more deeply until a week or so later when he starts receiving calls from Ashley. She's alive and well. 

Although Jack can't believe it and is afraid to admit it to anyone, including Ashley, it seems that he's a few days in the future. So this means that Jack may have a chance to change things in Ashley's reality. Jack tells Ashley to do a few things differently. 

Unfortunately Jack can't tell anyone what he believes for fear of being discharged from the force and/or locked up in the funny farm. Bobby and the Chief of Detectives Howard (Alfred Molina) are already looking strangely at Jack. Jack's renewed interest in the crime scene and evidence both set off a few alarm bells and reveal some inconsistencies. 

This was a decent if occasionally derivative movie that would have been better served with a larger budget. Even during daylight scenes, there was too much bad lighting. Oyelowo and Reid shine in this film however.  They are hampered by formula in the last bit of the movie. It might have been a better film if we got to see a few things from Garrett's POV or if we had had some sort of mini-explanation of the seeming supernatural elements.

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