Saturday, July 01, 2023

Call Her King, on BET Plus

There are those who think Judge Jaeda King is too tough on criminals, or the “accused,” if you prefer. Somehow, an armed takeover of her courtroom seems unlikely to chill her out. The accused’s brother also did not understand how much training Judge King had in martial arts and marksmanship. He and his private army are totally out-of-order in director-screenwriter Wes Miller’s Call Her King, which premieres this coming Thursday on BET Plus.

Judge King’s court is the only one in session this morning. Apparently, this is for security reasons, due to the intense interest in the case of accused contract-killer Sean Samuels. However, nobody thought to increase the level of security personnel. Its still just a handful of nearly-retired officers drinking coffee around the magnetometers. Gabriel Samuels, a.k.a. “Black Caesar” is not complaining.

Just as King sentences Samuels to death, his brother comes in guns-blazing. Presumably, this stunt will do some reputational damage to the Caesar’s internet security company, but he seems to have a bigger plan than simply freeing his brother. However, he did not count on Judge King and her chief of security, John Stryker, being so resourceful. Soon, they are regrouping in King’s chambers, with the convicted defendant and his neurotic lawyer, Jerry Spencer (he’s no Gerry Spence), which is obviously super-awkward. Samuels claims he knew nothing about his brother’s plans, but he continues to protest his innocence.

So, yeah, it’s a you-know-what in a courthouse. You have definitely seen better and you have probably seen worse. However, Miller uses the siege as a soapbox to air racial grievances regarding the U.S. justice system, but there is no meaningful sociological or criminological analysis in Miller’s screenplay (like you can find here).

Despite the clunkiness of the script, Johnny Messner does some of his best work in many a VOD release as Stryker (for reference, according to his imdb credits, his last four features co-starred Bruce Willis). He brings an energy and an attitude the film needed from the rest of the cast as well. Nicholas Turturro is also amusingly sleazy as Spencer. However, neither Naturi Naughton or Miller could apparently decide whether King’s character arc should be an empowerment story or an indictment. They each seem to change their kinds from scene to scene and they are never in-synch with each other.

Call Her King
is about as derivative as it gets, but Miller still finds a way to end on a head-scratching note. The Die Hard-copying business is reasonably competent for a while, but the third act falls flat. Not recommended, Call Her King starts streaming Thursday (7/6) on BET Plus.