Star Rating:

Don't Let Go

Director: Jacob Estes

Actors: David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Alfred Molina, Brian Tyree Henry, Byron Mann

Release Date: Friday 27th September 2019

Genre(s): Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Running time: 103 minutes

Destined to fall into the forgotten backlog of a streaming service...

L.A detective Jack Radcliffe (David Oyelowo) finds his brother and his niece murdered. Setting out to capture the culprit he starts receiving phone calls from Ashley (Storm Reid), his dead niece. He soon realises that she is somehow calling a week before her death, so sets out on a mission to save her.

Things start well as there is good mileage in the uncle/niece relationship and you get a real sense of the characters before the drama hits. When it does, it feels like we are going to get into a standard revenge thriller but things take a left turn when the protagonist starts receiving phone calls from his dead niece and this is where the film starts to flounder.

It rarely bores but the central premise becomes more of a hindrance the longer the film drags on. The rules of this particular time travel scenario are never set out and it's never even explained exactly how or why it is happening either. As other elements are introduced it becomes even more convoluted and it is not like there is room for interpretation.

It is also very po-faced which tonally does not fit with the premise. So what we end up with is a time travel film that gets in the way of a revenge thriller and a revenge thriller that keeps getting in the way of a time travel film. Ultimately it is just frustrating and it is baffling that the script made it as far as it did.

The last ten minutes are incredibly rushed as it tries to tie up loose threads, many that have only been introduced in these ten minutes. It is frustrating as you don't get the emotional payoff you want from the ending, it might as well have just finished with a title screen that read "everyone died on their way back to their home planet" and it would have the same emotional payoff and resonance. I'm not asking for everything to be tied up in a neat little package but a little time spent with the characters post the drama is actually warranted.

If it was just a bit of trash you'd forget it and move on, but there are clearly some good filmmakers working in front of and behind the camera, so you end up with a tantalising idea of what could have been.

The camera work is very fluid. It is not shakycam but it is rarely static and really transports you into the drama. The way that Oyelowo is often framed lets you see that he is putting some real work into his character and there are some genuinely tense chase sequences in the latter half of the film. It abounds with great acting and Oyelowo is very convincing throughout.

A chunk of the film has the characters talk over the phone and it works well, Reid's voice coupled with Oyelowo's reactions. A more artistically minded director would have kept that up for the entire running time and would have certainly made things more interesting and restrained.

This is a film destined to fall into the forgotten backlog of a streaming service and those that stumble over it on a boring Sunday afternoon might get a kick out of it. But those waiting in the cinema for a thrill are going to be frustrated by the incoherent tone and lacklustre script.