August 20, 2021
PLOT AND SUMMARY:
As soon as you see the trailer for “Sweet Girl,” you’ll understand why Jason Momoa decided to not only star in but also produce the action-revenge thriller.
There are action scenes woven throughout this vast and brutal story that may be confusing at times and emotionally draining at others. Isabela (Merced) is torn between her father’s quest for vengeance after his wife died of cancer at the hands of an unscrupulous pharmaceutical firm and her father’s desire to get even. There are many Fortysomething Anglo men with baseball hats playing “All-American” character roles right now. One of them is Jason Momoa’s ex-military man Ray Cooper. This portrays Momoa, half-Native Hawaiian, as a relatable everyman, on par with Mark Wahlberg or Matt Damon’s personae.
It seems to aspire to be five or six significant blockbusters from the 1990s and early 2000s all at once. Whenever an action beat or plot twist is lifted from another film, you’ll be able to tell which ones they are. However, movies like “The Fugitive,” “Terminator,” and the Jason Bourne series stand out, as do any other big-budget blockbuster where the storytelling cheats to create a huge surprise that no one saw coming because it’s actually pretty stupid. With a running time of almost two hours, “Sweet Girl” might pass for a working-class hero legal drama like “Dark Waters” or “Erin Brockovich,” only the protagonist is a bruiser who can throw another man’s skull through a brick wall.
Sadly, the narrative starts with this. Fast-forwarding to the point when Amanda has lost all her hair and is entirely unable to care for herself, the movie shows her sitting in a treatment facility, watching her hands on the clock. When the CEO of the pharmaceutical business suddenly withdraws a generic medication from the market, Amanda loses out on the opportunity to use it since it’s much less expensive than the name-brand version. There are rumors that there was some kind of reward. It’s an audience-pleasing moment when Ray phones onto a TV chat program and threatens Justin Bartha’s CEO, Simon Keeley. After that, he follows through on his word.
“Sweet Girl’s” initial appeal is that, despite its hero having commando-level combat training, it depicts him as a flawed human being who makes mistakes and has to recover from them. It then lets him loose in a world where guys like Keeley have plenty of protection and enemies are hampered by economic and physics laws from getting within striking distance. In addition, this movie does not take place in a comic book world where the repercussions of one’s actions are indeterminate. For failing to do something once, Ray is labeled a danger to society. He and his daughter spend almost all of the film hiding from the authorities and calling important allies on burner phones they’ve secretly acquired and delivered to remote parts of the woods where they’re camped out in Ray and his vintage muscle car’s trunk.
Some scenes have Ray like a superhero who pulls off amazing rescues and improvises his way out of jams that Bond could struggle with. However, the film makes an effort to make everything seem plausible. A grounded and earthy performer, Momoa reminds me more of Burt Lancaster or Anthony Quinn than a typical ‘roided-up action figure—a broad-shouldered, sad-eyed working-class hero. While he’s doing the spinning dervish thing we’ve come to anticipate from characters of this kind, Ray is much more fascinating when he’s crying in a hospital corridor or yelling at his kid for refusing to get out of the vehicle when he’s ready to go on a killing mission.
The production’s action, on the other hand, is the least exciting part. In the action sequences, Ray and different opponents (including a solitary assassin portrayed by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, who looks like Anton Chigurh) smash through walls and windows, tumbledown stairwells, and emerge at the end looking well beaten. However, they’re usually filmed and edited in a “Taken” style, with the camera swiveling wildly and the cuts dropping in strange places, suggesting that the primary aim was to hide the fact that they didn’t have enough time or money to do what they intended.
The story gets increasingly confusing as it goes along; the film adds narratively unnecessary sidequests and time shifts, revealing twists that are more irritating than exciting for viewers who have become attached to the characters’ humanity. It’s sad to watch the prominent actors—particularly Momoa, Garcia-Rulfo, and Merced—put so much effort into persuading the viewer to accept absurd things rather than clinging to more familiar emotions and circumstances. Fortifying absurdity is a Herculean task, and Merced excels at it.