There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) has questionable morals. She works as a legal guardian for senior citizens who are incapable of taking care of themselves. While this may seem like a noble job, she has built her career upon taking advantage of every senior citizen she could get her hands on. She starts by having her prey's doctor prematurely declare that they are no longer able to look after themselves. She then has her day in court—without her prey even being present—where her and the doctor make their case to the judge, who then signs a court order declaring Marla Grayson as her prey's legal guardian. Marla then proceeds to put her "clients" in a nursing home, forbidding her "client's" family from visiting, and selling all of her "client's" possessions—their home, furniture, heirlooms, etc.—and uses the proceeds to line her own pockets.
Marla has questionable morals, but she believes the world is filled with prey and predators, and that everyone is either one or the other. She sees herself as a predator, and she has no problem using her process to rob senior citizens of their fortunes. Unfortunately, her latest potential client may be more trouble than Marla anticipated. Jennifer Peterson (Dianne West) seemed to be too good to be true. She has no family, and she is incredibly wealthy. However, as Marla begins executing her plan, she puts herself on the radar of a powerful crime-lord (Peter Dinklage) who will stop at nothing to free Jennifer Peterson from Marla's grasp.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Main Cast (+4pts)
The Main Character & The Judge (-5pts)
The Premise (+5pts)
Swiss Army Marla (-8pts)
The Antagonists (+5pts)
Antagonist Effectiveness (-6pts)
Pro: The Main Cast (+4pts)
With Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonzalez, and Dianne West, this was a really strong main cast. Do not get me wrong, the supporting cast played their parts well, but the main cast was definitely one of this movie's strengths. Despite this movie's issues, this cast kept me invested in these characters. Their stories were a bit ridiculous, but each one of these cast members brought depth to their performances that made their characters feel real, despite the ridiculousness of the story. They also each had great chemistry with the each other. Whenever Rosamund Pike and Dianne West, or Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage were on screen together, it was impossible for me to look away. The story around them could have been a lot better, but the main cast delivered strong performances.
Con: The Main Character & The Judge (-5pts)
One problem I had with the movie was how vilified the main character was. I get that her having questionable morals was the whole point of the movie, but by making her such an unlikable person made me root against her instead of for her. This would have been fine if the filmmakers gave the antagonist of this story a satisfying ending, as it would have flipped the whole protagonist versus antagonist format on its head, but that was not what we got. Instead, this was a movie in which the main character was a bad person, doing bad things, and mostly getting her way. It made it a pretty unsatisfying movie to watch.
Then there was the judge (Isiah Whitlock Jr.). The premise of this movie could only have been effective if the viewer bought that it was possible. I bought that a legal guardian could become corrupt, I bought that a nursing home director could become corrupt, I bought that a doctor could become corrupt, and I had no problem buying into corrupt police officers. What I did not buy was how naive the judge was made out to be. He basically just blindly believed everything that Marla said, even when presented with another plausible side to her story. I could have bought that the judge was corrupt, but that was not what how the filmmakers portrayed the character. He was simply too naive to even consider the other side's story, and it made the character come across as frustratingly ridiculous and unbelievable.
Pro: The Premise (+5pts)
The premise was really this movie's biggest draw. A corrupt legal guardian is a shark that preys on innocent elderly people, only for her next "client" to be someone that a powerful crime-lord cares about deeply. I was totally on board with this idea. It was interesting, and it forced me to root against the protagonist and root for the antagonist. The main character's actions were so infuriating that I wanted to see karma catch up with her in a satisfying way. The first half of the movie saw her taking advantage of innocent, elderly people, and it saw the antagonist trying various avenues to free Jennifer Peterson, only for Marla to persist, which fueled my desperation to see karmic justice even more. You will have to watch the movie to see if karma ever caught up with her, but I was dying to see it happen, and that is proof of how great an idea this premise was and how effectively the filmmakers set everything up in the first half of the movie.
Con: Swiss Army Marla (-8pts)
As much as I was on board with the premise of this movie, it was the filmmakers' insistence on making Marla a jack of all trades, with every resource she could possibly need, that I found to be ridiculous. Basically, Marla was: an immoral legal guardian, an assassin, a master of stealth, a spy, a combat specialist, and a lawyer. She could also hold her breath for incredible amounts of time, she knew just what to do when a tooth came out, and she seemed to have a full supply of tasers and sedatives. Having her being one, two, or even three of things would have been feasible, but the filmmakers made Marla incredibly unrealistic. She should have been an ordinary person who bit off more than she could chew, but they made her a master of everything, and I did not buy it. It took me out of the movie multiple times, with frustrated eye-rolls each time, as having a main character be a master of everything is just lazy writing, and it made the movie absurd and uninteresting in the second half.
Pro: The Antagonists (+5pts)
One thing I thought was very interesting about this premise was that it made me root for the antagonists, who were not good people by any stretch of the imagination. The crime-lord was involved in very horrible business, but that was barely shown within the context of this movie. Within the context of this movie, Peter Dinklage was just a man trying to save a helpless elderly woman. This made me root for Peter Dinklage's character, which forced me to take a step back and wonder if Marla's actions really justified me rooting for someone like Peter Dinklage's character.
Marla was taking money from people, but was what she was doing really worse than what Peter Dinklage's character was doing? No, definitely not. This same thought process then trickled down to how I felt about the antagonist's henchmen. The premise was interesting, and it forced me to think critically about who I was rooting for, as well as the morality of the two main characters. That is not something that most movies are able to do, and that made this movie interesting.
Con: Antagonist Effectiveness (-6pts)
As I said before, this movie had me rooting for the antagonists, and it had me hoping that Marla would face karmic justice. Unfortunately, the antagonists were the most incompetent group of antagonists than I have seen in a while. Peter Dinklage played the crime-lord known as Roman, but he himself was not one to get his hands dirty. That was fine, but you would think, given his profession, that the thugs he employed would be competent at what they did. His killers struggled to take out ordinary women, his security was incredibly weak, and his enforcers struggled to get in and out of a nursing home. This premise had the potential of being a very unique action movie, but the ineffectiveness of the antagonists was pretty disappointing, because it meant that the satisfying karmic justice never really came on the level I wanted it to, and it made the Swiss Army Marla issue even more obvious than it would have been if the antagonists knew what they were doing.
Grade: C- (70pts)
I saw the trailer for this movie on Netflix, and the premise hooked me. The idea of following a despicable main character as she took advantage of helpless elderly people, only to wind up targeting someone that meant a lot to a crime-lord, was a premise that was very interesting to me. The movie then started strong, as it showed Marla's whole scheme, and had me infuriated, dying to see the crime-lord bring karmic justice to her doorstep. Unfortunately, the filmmakers failed to stick the landing.
Rather than deliver any satisfying justice, the filmmakers made the antagonists a bunch of unrealistically incompetent goons, and they inversely made Marla a master of everything. It took all the steam out of the premise. It had me frustrated and rolling my eyes at the ridiculousness of the main character being a legal guardian who just so happened to also be an assassin, spy, ninja, combat specialist, and lawyer. It was just unbelievable, and it took me out of the movie multiple times. Then there was the ridiculously naive judge, and the fact that the whole movie was spent following a main character that audiences would be rooting against, only for pretty much everything to go her way, which felt like an unsatisfying cop out. The premise was fascinating, as it made me question who I was rooting for and the morality of the two main characters. The main cast was also really strong, but the story around them needed a lot of work.
Movie Beasts (author) from MA on March 15, 2021:
I'm glad you liked the review, if only the movie being reviewed was better!
I'm not sure why they got rid of the rating system...unfortunately, I think they now just go by number of followers and/or fan mail. We are in the age of social media, I suppose.
Nonetheless, thanks for your positive feedback! It is definitely appreciated.
Alexander Silvius from Portland, Oregon on March 13, 2021:
I'm glad you watched and reviewed it, the preview was intriguing, but I was so turned off by the film's obvious focus on a nasty character with a nasty habit, that I had no desire to watch it. I think you identified all the flaws I expected to see. Plus, I really hate those stories where even the hero is as bad as the villain - in this case the antagonist, that it would just kill the entertainment factor for me. Thank you for helping me avoid wasting two hours of my life! Excellent review, you gave lots of details without giving away the climax and ending. I don't get on HP much these days, is there no rating button anymore? I would give you a thumbs up if I could!