DON’T LET GO (RELIVE)
(director/writer: Jacob Estes; screenwriter: story by Estes & Drew Daywalt; cinematographer: Sharone Meir; editors: Billy Fox, Scott D. Hanson; music: Ethan Gold; cast: David Ovelowo (Jack Radcliff), Storm Reid (Ashley), Byron Mann (Detective Roger Lee), Mykelty Williamson (Bobby), Shinelle Azoroh (Susan), Alfred Molina (Police Boss), Brian Tyree Henry (Garrett, Brother of Radcliff); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jason Blum, Bobby Cohen, David Oyelowo; OTL Releasing; 2019)
“It’s partly a time travel story and partly a crime procedural one, and neither is memorable.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A diverting but flawed indie suspense film featuring a mostly black cast in a film that doesn’t pertain to race. It’s partly a time travel story and partly a crime procedural one, and neither is memorable. The Blumhouse film by director-writer Jacob Estes (“The Details”/”Mean Creek”), first named Relive then changed to the current title, is hampered by a forgettable generic story, and despite an engaging premise and good acting drags at times.
The devoted overworked LAPD Detective Jack Radcliff (David Ovelowo, Brit actor) discovers his brother’s family brutally murdered in a home invasion. The provocative premise has Jack receiving a cellphone call from his feisty and beloved dead teenager niece Ashley (Storm Reid), someone he’s very fond of, a few days after the funeral. Thereby we’re left with the conundrum if Uncle Jack can still stop the crime from happening in the first place, as the film deals with two timelines (present & past).
The “Twilight Zone” setup is never explained, probably because it can’t be explained. But if you suspend belief and go with the film’s illogical plotline, which is rather solidly constructed for one of these modest sci-fi genre movie stories, you can pretend to believe in the time travel narrative without being completely turned off that it’s so far-fetched.
We soon learn that Jack’s drug addict brother Garrett (Brian Tyree Henry) is an ex-con with a long criminal history who took a different life path than Jack. Without giving away the plot twists, but letting on that the pedestrian crime story becomes a predictable police procedural one and only Ovelowo’s serious performance as the traumatized cop who might be having a nervous breakdown gives it some life. But that was good enough to make it watchable for me, even though the supernatural stuff paled in comparison to the real-world problems uncovered.
The great Alfred Molina is under-utilized in a small role as the police chief. While Mykelti Williamson as Jack’s partner is just fine, as is the performance by Reid as the sensitive niece.
REVIEWED ON 8/28/2019 GRADE: