Thriller’s loopholes make it easier to ‘Let Go’ of it
A movie turned television series called “Frequency” hinged on a strange radio signal that enabled someone to communicate across time with their late father. Well, somebody has taken that story (maybe not literally, but at least the basics of it have been retained), made a few adjustments and renamed it “Don’t Let Go” in a film that will seem awfully familiar to some viewers.
This time, a detective is grieving over the murders of several of his relatives, so imagine his surprise when he gets a cell-phone call from a person who apparently is ... his recently slain niece! If it’s really her, has time somehow bridged itself for the two of them to put them back in contact? And if that’s the fact, can he prevent her from being killed again?
That set-up leaves the potential for a lot of loopholes in the plot, so the best thing possible for it is to have good actors who sell the premise hard enough for the audience not to think much about those holes until they’ve left the theater. Luckily, “Don’t Let Go” has two such stars: David Oyelowo (“Selma”) as the detective, and Storm Reid (“A Wrinkle in Time”) as the niece.
They give the tale from screenwriter-director Jacob Estes the level of urgency it needs, since this isn’t just a race against time: It’s a race across time. Also quite good, for as long as he’s around, is Brian Tyree Henry (“Atlanta”) as the young woman’s father; he proves to be a great example of doing a lot with a little. Alfred Molina and Mykelti Williamson also raise the acting game, as they typically do, in the time they have here.
Still, when a film is asking for this big a suspension of disbelief, there’s only so much the on-screen talent can do. You have to buy into a whole lot, and the picture doesn’t really earn that investment, which is more a result of the storytelling than the performing. Plots like this tend to paint themselves into a corner eventually, and while it’s involving for a while, “Don’t Let Go” ultimately ends up in that same bind. Answers are supplied, but they’re more frustrating than enlightening ... never the preferred outcome in these cases.
The dedicated work of Oyelowo and Reid notwithstanding, in the end, it’s simply easier to just let go of “Don’t Let Go.”
David Oyelowo and Storm Reid