Friday, August 30, 2019

Don’t Let Go (a.k.a. Relive, from Blumhouse)

It is rather fittingly ironic when a film about communicating in the present back into the past to prevent tragic mistakes is substantially re-edited. Supposedly, that was the case for the film previously known as Relive, which I reviewed for Criminal Element, as part of my exclusive Sundance coverage. The latest version of the film sure seems a lot like what screened in Park City, but that was actually quite a good movie, so there really wasn’t any call to run it through a Soderberghian blender. As a result, Jacob Estes’ Blumhouse-produced Don’t Let Go is still recommended when it opens today in New York.

Det. Jack Radcliffe is a good cop and a good uncle. His brother is a bit of an irresponsible flake, so he often picks up the slack with his bright teen niece Ashley. As a result, he is completely devastated when she is brutally murdered, along with her parents and the family dog, presumably the victims of the sort of violent drug-dealers her father was supposedly no longer associating with. He prays for chance to somehow turn back time and save her—and then he gets a mysterious call from Ashley, originating a week before the murders will be committed.

With the clock ticking in the earlier timeline, Radcliffe will guide Ashley’s investigation over the phone, while trying not to freak her out with the prospect of her looming murder. There is indeed some rather clever time-bending material in DLG, which distinguishes it from similarly themed films (particularly the sadly under-seen Cryptic).

David Oyelowo still deserves genuine breakout stardom for the smart intensity of his performance as Radcliffe. His chemistry with Storm Reid (as Ashley) also holds up well during a second viewing. Plus, it is still a pleasure to watch veteran character actors like Mykelti Williamson, Alfred Molina, and Bryon Mann dig into their characters and Estes’ well-written dialogue as Radcliffe’s partner, their captain, and a rather insensitive Internal Affairs detective, respectively.

We liked this film enough to write an entirely new review (albeit a tad shorter), which should say a lot, considering how many releases clamor for our attention every week. This is a good one, so genre fans really ought to give it a chance. Enthusiastically recommended for fans of time-warping movies (but not necessarily for devotees of the Blumhouse horror brand, which does not really apply here), Don’t Let Go opens today (8/30) in theaters around the City, including the AMC Empire.