ST. LOUIS — A young girl giving four escaped convict-Neo Nazis a hard time out in the country should guarantee a good time spent at the movies- but something about Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion's "Becky" just didn't work for me.
I mean, mixing in "John Wick" and "Hanna" flavors while adding in a dash of "Home Alone" (hat tip to my pal, A.J. for that last reference) isn't a bad formula for making interesting thrillers- but I didn't find the film to be intense enough.
Lulu Wilson did everything she possibly could to bring the aforementioned Becky to life, but the rest of the movie is a half-baked suspense thriller. We see everything coming a mile away, even if the three-headed screenwriting time threw in extra gore and pumped up the style meter to 12 in order to con us into not noticing the plot points blinking ahead like road signs.
The biggest problem, though, is Kevin James as the head of the White Supremacist chain gang. Look, he's a funny and endearing guy on both television shows and other movies like ("Hitch" and "Paul Blart" coming to mind), but he's terribly miscast here. It's like the casting director had a wild idea after binging a few episodes of "King of Queens:" Let's take the lovable chubby family guy, shave his head, give him a massive beard, and make him look tough.
I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be laughing on purpose or against my will when James' bad, bad man threatens to kill Joel McHale's helpless dad in the woods. He's in no man's land here.
Let's put it this way. It didn't work. Instead of being intriguing and stepping out into new, dangerous territory, James only comes off as a distraction for the viewers. I couldn't take him seriously, so the rest of the film gets lost in the wilderness. Just wait for the moment when James whips off his shirt, pounds his chest, and tries to re-ignite a fellow bad guy's (Robert Maillet, who'll never do better than "Sherlock Holmes") passion to take the lives of innocent young children. Again, I shouldn't have been chuckling.
There's also a chatty plot thread about a sacred key that the convicts are seeking that doesn't go anywhere. It's just a reason for the baddies not to immediately kill everyone (including McHale's new fiance and child in addition to Becky) and also makes an ill-fated attempt to give James' character a backbone. Failed on both accounts.
I also didn't completely believe in Wilson's transition from angry damsel in distress (of course, she hasn't been talking to dad since mom died of cancer a year ago) to "Wick" killing machine. The script simply doesn't do enough there early on, wasting too much time on you know who.
Milott and Murnion brush heavy strokes of style across the film's 93 minutes, but in the end, the result is underwhelming and quite a dud. The kind of film that doesn't exactly waste your time- again, the format and setup make that extremely impossible- but it's not memorable at all.
I'd hold out on the DVD on Redbox (after three other title searches) or skip it all together.
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