Film Review: Sweet Girl

DIRECTED BY

Brian Andrew Mendoza

STARRING

Jason Momoa, Isabela Merced, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Adria Arjona, Raza Jaffrey, Justin Bartha, Lex Scott Davis, Michael Raymond-James and Amy Brenneman

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SYNOPSIS

A devastated husband vows to bring justice to the people responsible for his wife’s death while protecting the only family he has left, his daughter.

Devoted family man Ray Cooper, vows justice against the pharmaceutical company responsible for pulling a potentially life-saving drug from the market just before his wife dies from cancer. But when his search for the truth leads to a deadly encounter that puts Ray and his daughter Rachel in harm’s way, Ray’s mission turns into a quest for vengeance in order to protect the only family he has left.

Film Review - Sweet Girl - Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Amo Santos

Sweet Girl is a revenge thriller written by Gregg Hurwitz and Phillip Eisner, and marks the directorial feature debut of Brian Andrew Mendoza. Set in Pittsburgh, we follow the Cooper family, where Ray’s wife Amanda is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He’s informed by their doctor that a potentially life-saving drug is in the final stages of FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval. When Ray questions why it’s taking so long for Amanda to be put on her new treatment, the doctor regrettably informs him that the company behind the drug, BioPrime, has pulled it from the market. After Amanda’s passing, Ray is contacted by a journalist that wants to help him get justice against BioPrime. Their meeting leads Ray and his daughter Rachel down a dangerous path of vengeance and a conspiracy greater than they imagined.

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While Jason Momoa is no stranger to the revenger thriller genre, it’s always interesting to see him take on a role in which he gets to emote vulnerability and in the first fifteen-twenty minutes of the film he does exactly that as a man who loses the love of his life not only to cancer but the last bit of hope they had left was pulled at the last minute by a pharmaceutical company, and is very compelling to watch in this film. Isabela Merced has been on the rise now for quite some on the film scene and here she gives a very good performance as Ray’s daughter Rachel, who is concerned for the wellbeing of her father and hoping that he doesn’t go too far and lose himself in his battle to make BioPrime, Keeley in particular, pay for the death of her mother. I thought the father and daughter dynamic was decent enough, and the chemistry between the two of them keeps the film somewhat intact.

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The fight sequences that are in the film feel like they’re well choreographed and there are some nice shots when the director and editor allow the action to linger for that extra second or two for the audience to feel the impact of the punch or kick, but there was too many quick cuts in the use of shaky cam that lessened the impact of these scenes for me. What really took me out of the film however was the twist and the resolution of everything in the final act just didn’t click for me. The twist definitely feels like a swing from writer Gregg Hurwitz, but for me it just didn’t work. While Lex Scott Davis got some screentime in the film and was pivotal to the overall plot, I felt her onscreen partner, played by Michael Raymond-James, on the other hand was underused. Another character I would’ve liked more of was Manuel Garcia-Rulfo’s Amos Santos, the assassin hunting dow Ray and Rachel. There’s a really good scene between Momoa and Garcia-Rulfo in a diner, but other than that the character is only allowed to exist as the one-note villain that serves under the real villain.

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VERDICT

Jason Momoa and Isabela Merced give good performances, but they are letdown by a story and twist that just didn’t work for me.

★★