Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of January 29, 2024

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of January 29, 2024

Rated PG-13 for strong violence and action and some strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: None at the time of writing
In Theaters

Throughout his career, director Matthew Vaughn has delivered some fantastic action films with a huge sense of humor. From Layer Cake to The Kingsman franchise to Kick Ass, there have been some very enjoyable adult films with lots of laughs and lots of great thrills. For his newest action comedy, he tones down the violence quite a bit, opting for a PG-13 outing about a spy novelist (Bryce Dallas Howard) who is swept into a dangerous adventure by real-life spy Sam Rockwall when she gets on a train to visit her mom in Chicago. Along with her cat, Alfie, the story goes through lots of twists and turns. So as not to spoil anything, I won’t mention those twists here, but it does make writing about the film more difficult since the big reveal is roughly half-way through the second act. But I digress. If you’ve seen the trailers and all the marketing, you might be like me and assume that the film is ultimately about a cat. It is not about a cat. The cat is cute and steals a couple of scenes, but he is mostly used as sleight of hand to keep you from knowing or guessing what is really going on. Before I go into the bad, the film’s most impressive feature is its strong A-list cast. Besides Rockwell and Howard, the film features Henry Cavill, John Cena, Dua Lipa, Bryan Cranston, Ariana DeBose, Catherine O’Hara and Samuel L. Jackson. I think it is absolutely insane that so many incredible actors would come together for this script. Ultimately the film ends up being almost exclusively style with very little substance. At no point does it seem believable, and it mostly comes off as just plain silly. What I also find confounding is that the marketing sells this movie as a fun family film. It is definitely not that. In fact, it is almost as violent as his other films, except with this one, there is hardly a drop of blood. This film would have been so much better as an R-rated feature, complete with the highly stylized violence Vaughn is best known for. Perhaps the greatest challenge the movie has is in its lead. Howard just seems miscast here in her role. For marketing purposes, it looks like her character would make sense, but in the meat of the film, she becomes a distraction. There’s a potentially interesting film here wanting to come out, but unfortunately, this isn’t it. C