An action thriller where the lead character goes against Big Pharma seems like a layup, no? Sweet Girl takes this simple premise and somehow churns out a film as relentlessly ridiculous as charging people $5,000 for a $4 pill.
Ray (Jason Momoa, Zack Snyder’s Justice League) is slowly watching his wife, Amanda (Adria Arjona, 6 Underground), die from cancer. While dealing with his own grief and uncertainty, Ray tried to keep it together for his daughter, Rachel (Isabel Merced).
He’s maxed out credit cards, refinanced everything to give her another shot at life once it recurs. There is a chance thanks to an experimental new drug that has some encouraging results, but a big pharma company pays to keep it off the shelf.
How else can the pharma execs buy their fifth yacht if people suddenly are getting cured from cancer at a less exorbitant rate?
Coincidentally, Ray catches a CNN-style talking head discussion with Simon Keeley (Justin Bartha, The Hangover).
Like any sensible person, Ray calls in and promises to hunt down Keeley and kill him if his wife dies. Gotta think some producer is losing their job for letting that full threat make the air…
Amanda eventually does die and Ray gets a call from a reporter alleging a big shadowy pharma conspiracy. The reporter seemed a bit paranoid right up until the point he gets killed and the assassin (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, The Magnificent Seven) goes after him.
Right at this point is when the script by Gregg Hurwitz and Phillip Eisner starts to get wonky. The thought that Big Pharma has assassins on speed dial to kill investigative reporters seems far fetched.
Does anyone know what reporters make these days? Giving them hush money seems far less messy.
Momoa is always in a tough spot on normal action roles. With his trademark long hair and fierce goatee, the dude looks like the gladiator final boss that’s gonna require multiple micro transaction power ups to beat.
Even when he plays a character that’s not a barbarian superhero, Momoa can’t hide his size or the elite level intimidation factor. This is a problem throughout Sweet Girl as Ray gets into these lengthy slugfests with guys sometimes half his size.
Alright, but what if these guys are just better trained? Director Brian Andrew Mendoza makes a point to show extended sequences with Ray doing some boxing and MMA training.
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Clearly Ray should be able to put a credible beat down on any of Pharma’s assassins on speed dial. There’s a spoiler reason for it, but that’s even more far fetched and makes the film worse.
While the action scenes rarely hold up, Momoa handles his lead role just fine and shows a greater range than bruiser meathead. He’s that one worthwhile film away from being a major action superstar beyond Aquaman.
Undeterred, Ray decided to make good on his threat — ninja style infiltrating a expensive benefit gala. Keeley says it’s to benefit Africa before getting corrected and he drunkenly laughs it off to reinforce he’s a jerk in need of getting his throat sliced. At least he’s not shooting himself off into space with all his tax relief funding…
Ray tries, but can’t bring himself to kill Keeley proving he’s not big on honoring his promises. Keeley clearly isn’t thankful for this act of mercy and sics his goon squad of random henchmen — Big Pharma has a large supply of guys with flexible morals at the ready apparently.
This sends Ray and Rachel on the run trying to avoid Keeley’s guys and police detective Sarah Meeker (Lex Scott Davis, The First Purge), the one officer interested in hearing Rachel’s side.
Merced is 20 and can skew young enough with the right attire to play Dora the Explorer. Mendoza takes a curious approach having Milena Rivero playing the 11-year-old Rachel in early scenes.
Not enough time passes for Rachel to suddenly look like she’s about to wrap up college making the switch extremely bizarre. The way Rachel is written it would make more sense for her to be a young 11-year-old anyway.
Throughout this big chase, Rachel tried to get Meeker’s attention focused on Keeley, which is incredibly shaky logic. Sure Keeley is a scumbag who acts like a comic book villain, but pinning anything on him is a stretch.
And Sweet Girl as a whole is one long extended reach. It’s a film of illogical decisions, random coincidences and lackluster action.
Rating: 3 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix