Sweet Girl: Jason Mamoa is impressive. The rest of this Netflix film is not

Review: This new revenge thriller depends too heavily on its unexpected plot twist

Sweet Girl: Isabela Merced and Jason Momoa

Film Title: Sweet Girl

Director: Brian Andrew Mendoza

Starring: Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Adria Arjona, Amy Brenneman, Justin Bartha

Genre: Action

Running Time: 96 min

Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 05:00

   

There are some good ideas buried in this new revenge thriller from Netflix. Casting the likeable, lumbering Jason Mamoa is invariably a smart move. Creating a baddie modelled on Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli is an appealing notion. Sweet Girl also works toward a “big” and unexpected plot twist. 

Sadly, that narrative development requires an hour of preposterousness in the lead-up and another 30 minutes of silliness before the final credits roll. In the interests of spoiler culture, we’ll say no more. But this writer found herself thinking back to Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi and that film’s disconcerting insistence on privileging surprise over logical story progression. As in: “They got Force Skype!” Surprise!

The pitch remains simple enough. A protracted opening sequence sees doting husband Ray (Jason Momoa) and his daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced, impressive even when the film is not) watch helplessly as Rachel’s mother dies from cancer. 

Their grief is complicated by knowing that a potentially life-saving drug was withheld by market forces and Justin Bartha’s Shkreli clone. An angry Ray calls into a chat show and gets put straight on the air because the script (by Philip Eisner, Gregg Hurwitz and Will Staples) cares little for such niceties as “suspension of disbelief”. 

He vows to hunt the Pharmo Bro down, a promise that attracts a mysterious investigative journalist. A murky conspiracy ensues. And when we say murky, we mean often nonsensical, punctuated by admittedly decent fight sequences and regrettably wasteful of Amy Brenneman’s ersatz Hillary Clinton. 

Too often this feels like a project that insists on delivering poor facsimiles of iconic scenes. Squint hard and there’s something like Al Pacino and Robert de Niro’s diner meeting from Heat; look here and there’s some crunching Bourne combat; look there and there’s a blurry outline plundered from such 1970s political conspiracy classics as The Parallax View. 

These allusions only serve to remind the viewer of far better films. Surprise!