Director: Fabrice du Welz
Writers: Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell
Stars: Teresa Palmer, Luke Evans, Tom Felton
Plot: A mysterious outsider named Jacob King from South Africa arrives in Los Angeles to avenge his younger sister’s death.
Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 50% Audience 48%
Why I watched it: The cast and because I didn’t know anything about the film.
Random Thoughts: I knew nothing about this film, one night I go to Netflix Canada to watch something and a banner comes up with “Message From The King” Netflix Original,it was coming soon and they had a trailer, saw who was in it and I’m like I didn’t know this was made. Now I love reading about movies and a pretty much know what’s coming out but not this one and add that Chadwick Boseman is a rising star and I was all in to see it.
I should warn you that in the plot summary and the trailer they talk about his sister being dead, he doesn’t know that right off, he comes to LA to find her, so even though it’s not a huge spoiler cause it happens early it is a big point plot point. Also this is being marketed as a revenge movie and even though it has those elements this plays more like a Noir, it’s more of a mystery of what and why, King wants to know who killed his sister but the why is huge as well and it does play like a throw back film noir mystery.
What I liked: Message From The King is not a big loud revenge movie, this is a story of a man coming to terms with the death of his sister, there’s grieving but I think this is more about guilt, about feeling you could have stopped this. The story is straight forward a man comes to LA from South Africa to find his sister, we know nothing of a backstory for him, we hear he’s a cab driver and doesn’t have much money but as the story unfolds he seems to be more than that, he can handle himself in this seedy world. The main thing here is the film is gritty, it’s not main stream glossy Hollywood fare, mean vile people live in this world and King has to go through them to find the truth.
The acting is good, I wasn’t 100% sold on Boseman’s accent here but it’s not terrible and I will say he has a charisma about him and he does something a lot of actors can’t do these days and that’s be quiet and sell that you’re thinking, someone who’s internal is hard to play, we don’t know a lot about him and really has he solves this mystery we solve who and what this character is. The film doesn’t try to explore every character he don’t know the backstory for everyone,Teresa Palmer lives in the building that Boseman is staying in and we know she’s a single mother and we know she might be doing not great things to learn a living but we don’t go in depth because Boseman’s character doesn’t ask and he doesn’t seem to judge. Luke Evans shows up as a bad guy, a slimy middle man, he’s a dentist as well, it’s weird cause Evans is really too good looking to be a character actor but he’s good here, he shows some range.
The film is gritty and some of the subject matter is pretty tough, the violence is brutal. The film is lean and it moves pretty well once we get into the main story and it’s very good at connecting dots to get to the main mystery, the film is really about what has happened and how it got that far.
What I didn’t like: The beginning is slow, very slow, at first I thought this was going to a chore to get through but it does pick up but anyone going in thinking this will be a fast paced action film will be disappointed. Other than that I only have nit picks it’s not a perfect film but it stays true to what it wants to be, I would have liked that the characters were fleshed out more but I get this is a mystery.
Final Thoughts: It’s a good film, I liked it, it’s not a feel good film but it’s well shot and well acted and since I’m a noir/mystery junkie this was in my wheelhouse. This film is not being talked about much and it’s too bad cause it’s more thoughtful and a lot deeper than most Hollywood fare.