SWEET GIRL (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: Devoted family man Ray Cooper (Jason Momoa), vows justice against the pharmaceutical company responsible for pulling a potentially life saving drug from the market just before his wife (Adria Arjona) dies from cancer. But when his search for the truth leads to a deadly encounter that puts Ray and his daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced) in harm's way, Ray's mission turns into a quest for vengeance in order to protect the only family he has left.
In an ever-increasing list, Jason Momoa is the latest Hollywood actor to star in a Netflix original film. A movie that ambitiously want to seal Momoa as the next action hero yet at the same time attempt to throw in a pharmaceutical political conspiracy into the mix.
Ray Cooper (Momoa) is an honest working man with a lovely wife, Amanda (Adria Arjona) and young daughter, Rachel (Isabela Merced) until tragedy strikes the Cooper family. Amanda is re-diagnosed with cancer. The only cure lies in an affordable potentially life-saving drug which production is halted by a big pharmaceutical company, Biopharma led by CEO Simon Keely (Justin Bartha).
Amanda soon passes and Ray receives a call from a reporter one day that he might have leads regarding the dark truth behind Biopharma and some mysterious rich powerful folks. But before anything happens, the reporter is killed by a contract killer and eventually Ray finds himself on the run with Rachel.
Screenwriters Philip Eisner and Greg Hurwitz basically recycle the gist of the story from many other man-on-the-run movies though they wanted you to think deeper. What role can a cocky CEO and overly zealous Congresswoman play in a movie liked Sweet Girl? Some bribe and personal agenda perhaps. There’s only so much available in Hollywood’s rulebook.
To be fair, Momoa plays the role of an ordinary blue-collar hero with much sentiment and credibility. He is in short, a brawny teddy bear with a soft heart. Sharing much screentime opposite him is Isabela Merced, the gutsy young lady who last played Dora the Explorer. For the most part, they make an endearing pair of father-and-daughter.
Then someone suddenly pulls a “M Night Shyamalan” twist in the third act. Even though director Brian Andrew Mendoza claimed its character driven, it’s nevertheless a twist that is neither compelling or smart to begin with. Perhaps Netflix and the filmmakers want you to rewatch it again to see if it fits the puzzle but then, it’s not on the level of The Sixth Sense to warrant such act.
Instead of your typical man-on-the-run action thriller, Sweet Girl wanted to do more than that. Expectedly, there’s a decent amount of action pieces in which we see Momoa going head on with a couple of hitmen. It doesn’t help that shaky cam, frenetic editing and bad lighting ultimately spoil all the fun. Instead of establishing Momoa as the next onscreen action hero, Sweet Girl is only a poor man version of it.
Review by Linus Tee