A Touch of Time Travel: ‘Don’t Let Go’ Review

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CREDIT: Sundance Institute

Okay, so: Don’t Let Go is about a homicide detective (David Oyelowo) whose brother, sister-in-law, and niece are brutally murdered, and then he starts getting phone calls from his dead niece (Storm Reid), but it seems that she’s still alive, because she’s calling from … THE PAST! Yeah, so I’m hooked.

Det. Oyelowo gets right into it, directing Storm to start doing some covert investigating of her own in the hopes of altering the timeline. Of course then Don’t Let Go bumps up against a common time travel conundrum, i.e., if the past is altered, how will that affect the present, and will anyone remember the original past timeline, and if so, will that make sense? Or will it turn out that any “alterations” were a part of the original timeline all along, with any attempts to make changes proving instead to be a recursive insurance that it will all end up the same way?

Don’t Let Go actually manages to pull off the former in a way that makes enough cinematic sense to get by (and the shifts are rendered visually in satisfyingly disorienting fashion), as the past and present seem to be tethered together on an inflection point. And if we want to, we can say that the phone conversations are the portal that allows for the callers to have memories of multiple timelines. That being said, there are relatively few moments when the timeline is actually altered, and it certainly feels like there could be more. But I wonder if it had been bulkier that way, maybe it would have been too much to keep track of. So I’m mostly satisfied. Alfred Molina plays a reliable authority figure! It’s a fun genre experiment!

I give Don’t Let Go My Agreement to Complete Its Weird Requests.

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Skyscraper’ is at Its Best When It Keeps It Simple

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CREDIT: Kimberley French/Universal Studios

This review was originally posted on News Cult in July 2018.

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Richard Møller, Pablo Schreiber, Noah Taylor, Hannah Quinlivan, Matt O’Leary, Byron Mann, McKenna Roberts, Noah Cottrell

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Running Time: 102 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for A Tall Building on Fire, But Mostly the Gunfire

Release Date: July 13, 2018

One of the many revolutionary joys of Die Hard was the motivation of the villains. They presented themselves as terrorists, but they were really just simple thieves. There are several reasons why Skyscraper, which is basically “Die Hard, but in the tallest building in the world,” is not as entertaining as John McClane’s original exploits. The premise is now far from unique, obviously. Plus, any character played by Dwayne Johnson, even an amputee in this case, is already too larger-than-life for any of his heroics to be surprising. But the most fundamental mistake is that the villains’ purpose is never clear. I’m pretty sure they’re not after money, but if they are terrorizing, it is never clear what point they are trying to make, if any. It is possible this was all explained at some point while I was momentarily distracted, but if it was that hard to miss, then that’s a problem.

Thus, then, just about the only reason to check out Skyscraper is to see Johnson pull off some gravity-defying stunts. If you suffer from acrophobia or vertigo, you will definitely want to stay away, whereas if your favorite action scene ever is Ethan Hunt on the Burj Khalifa, then you will find some thrills. Johnson does not quite reach Tom Cruise’s poetic heights, but he is not far off from them. It would just be nice if the whole affair were undergirded by more of a purpose.

But there is one piece of Skyscraper that I can endorse wholeheartedly, and that is its use of the old “turn it off and turn it back on again” trick. Seriously, that is the solution that solves the day, and it is actually quite satisfying. Bringing it back to Die Hard: brilliant in its simplicity.

Skyscraper is Recommended If You Like: Die Hard “on a whatever” (minus the memorable villains), Death-Defying Stunts

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Prosthetic Legs