Don’t Let Go is a supernatural, time-traveling murder mystery with good lead performances; but significant flaws. Think Groundhog Day meets last year’s cell phone thriller Searching. The premise is high concept. It might have worked if the resolve wasn’t blatantly obvious within the first ten minutes of the film. The antagonist is easily sniffed out in a plot with a handful of characters. This defangs the mystery element. Consequently making the temporal shenanigans a drag.
Don’t Let Go begins with Detective Jack Radcliff (David Oyelowo) receiving a call from his beloved niece, Ashley (Storm Reid). Her father (Brian Tyree Henry), Jack’s brother, has forgotten to pick her up from a movie. Jack takes her home and chastises his brother for being neglectful. A few days later, Ashley calls Jack in absolute terror. When the line drops, he races to her house to investigate. He discovers Ashley and her entire family have been shot to death.
Overcome with grief, Jack struggles to understand what happened. All signs point to a murder suicide by his brother, but Jack refuses to accept that. His partner (Mykelti Williamson) and commanding officer (Alfred Molina) beg him to seek counseling. Just when Jack is at his wit’s end, he inexplicably gets a call from Ashley. She’s somehow contacting him from days before the murders. Jack and Ashley must work together through time to prevent the slaughter.
Let’s start with what works. David Oyelowo can do no wrong as an actor. Jack is initially wracked with grief and guilt. Oyelowo feverishly investigates the crime. When he realizes Ashley can change events in the future, Jack’s countenance turns to dogged determination. Oyelowo’s performance saves Don’t Let Go from being a second-rate Twilight Zone episode. When the film’s perspective shifts to Ashley, young Storm Reid holds up her end admirably. She makes the most of a questionable script. Reid, who also stars in HBO’s Euphoria and A Wrinkle in Time, is a blossoming talent.
Don’t Let Go never explains their communication through time. That’s not necessarily a negative, but becomes one with several holes in the plot. The characters spend a majority of the runtime gathering clues. No specific spoilers here, but Ashley’s phone could have been used to wrap up the story quite easily. A little logic, especially when you know exactly what will happen and when, ends this story in a snap. Another issue is that Jack remembers previous events when the timeline changes. He’s the only character unaffected. No answers there either. My willing suspension of disbelief can only go so far. Don’t Let Go needed to fill in a few gaps.
Don’t Let Go builds to a violent finale. It might have been entertaining, but the wait for the conspicuous baddie was too long. I honestly had lost interest by the big “aha” moment. Don’t Let Go has good lead actors, but the overall product is lacking. There are too many MacGuffins to warrant a recommendation. The film is produced by Blumhouse Productions and Briarcliff Entertainment with distribution from BH Tilt.
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