THUNDER FORCE (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: In a world where supervillains are commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends reunite after one devises a treatment that gives them powers to protect their city.
Melissa McCarthy has been collaborating with her writer and director husband, Ben Falcone in recent times often to disastrous results. God knows why but that doesn’t seem to stop the husband-and-wife team from coming up with more comedy misfire.
In Netflix’s Thunder Force, also written and directed by Falcone, the story is set in Chicago whereby after a massive cosmic explosion, selected sociopaths are turned into supervillains known as Miscreants. McCarthy stars as Lydia, a loud-mouth, hot-headed container driver who finds herself back in the company of ex-best friend now successful geneticist, Emily (Octavia Spencer). Emily’s goal since young is to create a superhero that could defeat the villains. She is so close to achieving it until Lydia accidentally injects herself with the serum. With no other available alternatives, Emily has to team up with Lydia to form Thunder Force to take down villains liked The King, (Bobby Cannavale), Laser (Pom Klementieff) and The Crab (Jason Bateman).
To be fair to Falcone, he has a pretty cool decent idea this time but the execution and jokes are often far from charming and witty. Take for example, a “knock, knock who’s there?” joke that goes nowhere or a prolonged scene which sees Lydia eating cereal and drinking expired milk. Its scenes liked these that speaks of Falcone’s bad writing, lackluster comic timing and editing. At least hire an accomplice in the future to punch things up.
Thunder Force works best when you put McCarthy’s character in some dumb situations and watching her making even dumber decisions and carrying out whatever batshit crazy antics Falcone wants her to do liked throwing a CGI bus or eating raw chicken breasts for example. Spencer on the other hand has to play things straight making her character ultra-boring and without any sizzling chemistry opposite Lydia. Even though Emily has the power to be invisible, she is mostly and ironically “invisible”, mostly overshadowed by Melissa McCarthy’s shtick.
Even though Falcone managed to nab Jason Bateman as The Crab. The talented actor who stars opposite McCarthy in Identity Thief while playing an interesting-looking villain lacks anything worthy to do or ad-lib except crab-walking. Same goes to Bobby Cannavale who last starred opposite McCarthy in Superintelligence and plays a two-dimensional baddie whose superpower is hugging his opponents to death. Comparing to her Galaxy of the Guardians’ Mantis, Pom Klementieff has the most fun as the psychotic villain Laser.
While the McCarthy-Falcone collaborations yield inept efforts liked Tammy, The Boss and Life of the Party, Thunder Force is at least watchable for some laughs and gags courtesy of some really well-done CGI and action set pieces. Falcone attempts to carve out a heartening tale about friendship between the two estranged friends but it fails miserably. Yet the superhero flick is far more enjoyable than what the couple has concocted over the years combined and it’s not even a superhero satire. Well, to be honest, it’s not a very high benchmark to begin with anyway.
Review by Linus Tee