The bonkers twist of “Sweet Girl” subverts your typical male revenge thriller – with a take

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Right now, the muscular, rabid grandfathers and husbands seeking revenge on men who harm their daughters or wives are a cinematic genre of their own, a la Liam Neeson in “Taken,” or Bruce. Willis in right-wing propaganda. – infused with “Death Wish”. Jason Momoa’s latest revenge flick, Netflix’s recent release “Sweet Girl,” appears to be on par with the aforementioned breed of hypermasculine thrillers – until its shocking third act changes the entire narrative of what came before.

In “Sweet Girl,” Momoa plays Cooper, a devoted husband and father whose life begins to escalate after his wife, Amanda (Adria Arjona), dies of cancer, shortly after an affordable drug and lifesaving product has been taken off the market by your typical foodie pharmaceutical company, BioPrime. While the company’s shady CEO Simon Keeley (Justin Bartha) is on a CNN segment arguing fiercely with contradictory MP Diana Morgan (Amy Brenneman), Cooper vows to kill Keeley with his bare hands.

“Sweet Girl” then follows Cooper as he works to end this threat, implementing his violent revenge plot while also protecting his 18-year-old daughter, Rachel (Isabela Merced), the “sweet girl” incumbent. For much of the film, Cooper and Rachel roam the forests of Pennsylvania, hide in motels, and are regularly ambushed by hitmen who are believed to be involved in BioPrime.

Eventually, a close encounter with an assassin named Santos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) leads the father-daughter duo to uncover the truth – that Congresswoman Morgan is, in fact, the big bad behind the evils of BioPrime, and the one who hit the nail on the head. Cooper. Armed with this information, Cooper and Rachel return to Pittsburgh, only to be pursued by FBI agents led by Agent Sarah Meeker (Lex Scott Davis) on the roof of a baseball stadium.

But wait! The hon. Member’s revelation is just a small twist. Now comes the controversial revelation that changes the entire movie and – to put it lightly – sheds new light on everything we’ve witnessed before.

As Agent Meeker tries to dissuade Cooper from jumping off the stadium roof, it is revealed that the entire time Cooper was in fact dead. He was killed two years earlier, after an assassin followed him with a reporter with dirt on BioPrime to a secret location where they met. Instead, who we’ve seen every time Cooper is on screen is. . . her daughter.

Rachel was so traumatized by witnessing her father’s murder that she has since suffered from PTSD and, in her mind, took the form of her father to take out the bad guys responsible for the deaths of both of her parents. In other words, all those scenes you just watched, of Jason Momoa throwing big, heavily armed men through walls? So, it was actually Rachel, mentally existing in her father’s form to quell the trauma of his death.

As you might expect, the twist that smacks of “everything was just a dream” or “none of it was real,” has been widely criticized for being bizarre and absurd. Not only that, but he also embodies the tired type of Hollywood reveal that is made for shock value and nothing more. In the way that the twist made a mundane action movie of sorts, a topic of conversation partially works in its favor, reminiscent of the buzz provided by the bizarre bee-related reveal in the demented “Wild Mountain Thyme” of 2020. This twist didn’t necessarily negate what had happened before; on the contrary, he deepened his strangeness.

Still, there’s something to be said for how “Sweet Girl” takes the hypermasculine, squeaky paternalism of the “Taken” franchise and flips it over her head, anointing a petite teenager as the Bruising Avenger, not the big one. muscular father. There is clearly an element of fun and surprising feminism here. After all, Rachel is the one who killed the slimy CEO indirectly responsible for her mother’s death. She is the one who avenges her father’s murder two years earlier. It was she who shot two great men who came for her life in a motel.

But that feminist element is considerably watered down if not completely dismissed by the fact that this is not what we have been able to see. For most of the two hours of “Sweet Girl,” what unfolded on screen was just another violent, male raging piece of drama, just another tough guy standing up for his wife and wife. otherwise unhappy girl. Even though the truth is compelling and feminist, the film ultimately caters to the male gaze, to the male audience looking for the chance to project themselves onto big strong men beating up other great strong men, a male audience that would likely be entirely disinterested. or even threatened by a movie about a little teenage girl taking on the role, instead.

The execution of “Sweet Girl” is disappointing because there was so much potential for the movie to be bigger than it was. There is hardly any conversation more relevant right now than the power of Big Pharma, unattainable life-saving healthcare, or corrupt, two-faced politicians. And there’s also hardly anything more subversive, thrilling, and unique than the idea of ​​a badass teenage girl being the new face of the revenge murder thriller.

Unfortunately, by loading “Sweet Girl” to the brim with Jason Momoa’s high and predictable fight scenes, and consequently reducing the significant exploration of the burning issues, the film gives up its potential to be more than just another movie. revenge “Taken”. And by reserving her shocking Rachel twist for her final minutes, “Sweet Girl” essentially makes the twist meaningless. What if Jason Momoa was the mental avatar of a teenage girl all the time? Ultimately, does what is below the surface matter even if the surface was all we could see?


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