End of the road2022.
Directed by Millicent Shelton.
Starring Queen Latifah, Chris Bridges, Beau Bridges, Mychala Lee, Keith Jardine, Jesse Luken, Frances Lee McCain, Tabatha Shaun, Aaron Valentine, Shaun Dixon, Efrain Villa, and Amie MacKenzie.
Brenda, a newly widowed mother, struggles to protect her family during a harrowing road trip when a murder and the loss of a bag of money put them in jeopardy.
There’s a point to director Millicent Shelton (who has mostly worked on TV shows up to this point) End of the road where teenage daughter Kelly (Mychala Lee) comments to her uncle Reggie (musician Ludacris, here only credited as Chris Bridges) that lately, it feels like life is relentlessly getting worse. She is not wrong; Screenwriter David Loughery (with Christopher J. Moore attached to the original version of this script) seems determined to put as many obstacles as humanly possible in the Freeman family’s way, whether the story makes sense or not.
End of the road it might have worked if his tone was less serious and more willing to embrace the absurdities of the plot early on. This is an action thriller (and sometimes a comedy, though possibly not by design) that eventually jumps more sharks than Evil Knievel, which is fine, except the ride there is too fixated on clunky dramatic dialogue involving a family. distant sufferer of loss. from his cancer father-in-law/brother-in-law, trying to start a new life by moving to Arizona.
Brenda (Queen Latifah in what begins as her second dramatic role of the year, having recently impressed opposite Adam Sandler in Hustle, before becoming family protective action heroes) is now deep in debt after spending a fortune on her now-deceased husband’s chemotherapy. She’s taking her two sons and her fucked-up brother to Arizona, though her trip has many chaotic surprises in store for her.
Through a chain of convenient events (to the point of insultingly stupid writing), the Freeman family finds themselves caught in the middle of a drug lord and his failed attempt to recover a large amount of money. Gunshots erupt in the motel room next to theirs, where Brenda (who happens to be a nurse) tries to keep the man alive (unaware that he is a thief) even though he has been shot in the neck. It is a noble effort but in vain.
It also turns out that Reggie found the stolen money that the killer didn’t have time to look for and took it upon himself to snatch it up and place it in the back of the family vehicle. Brenda has her ways of realizing Reggie is being secretive and doesn’t say anything to her, eventually finding out about the money and justifiably freaking out considering a man just called (using a distorted manipulated voice) threatening her family if she doesn’t come back. . the money. There is also an Arizona State Trooper (Beau Bridges) trying to go after the family to protect them, knowing that this led this career criminal to stop at nothing to harm them.
The characters here are staggeringly goofy, and that puts it nicely. After a back and forth discussion on whether or not they should return the money or take the risk of defending themselves. Brenda wins the debate and chooses to leave the money at a different motel, then dials the phone number and explains where the money is. Naturally, this isn’t good enough for the drug lord, as the family can still identify his voice in the murder. Unnervingly, they decide to visit a western-themed amusement park during this, where the shit really hits the fan when Brenda’s youngest son, Cam (Shaun Dixon), is kidnapped.
After more forced dialogue, a rescue plan is put into motion as the family also seeks to work with the Arizona State Police. Along the way, Brenda encounters many prideful racists (here’s an arc where she needs to defend herself against this horrible white supremacy, which comes to fruition with the thematic juxtaposition), at one point beating up several white supremacists using anything in her vicinity. as a weapon (including firing a shotgun).
When End of the road Quits trying to be a bland drama about loss, a dysfunctional family trying to reconnect, and the ethos of taking this blood money to start a new life, it veers into a much-needed dose of insane craziness that fits more with the narrative. ridiculousness and predictability. There are still several dazzlingly idiotic character decisions and an abandonment of all logic (Ludacris can’t kick down a door, but someone else I’m not going to hilariously spoil can), but some trashy, crazy joy within.
Queen Latifah going on a vengeful and defensive rampage and murdering racists to save her family is quality entertainment and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges getting into a knife fight with a psychotic old lady is hilarious. Unfortunately, it takes all the way to the end of the road to get into the movie wavelength.
Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]