Sweet Girl review – proof that comfort is good

August 20, 2021
Kira Comerford 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
3

Summary

There are not many things better than a safe action film; something with a mostly structurally sound story, and explosions and punches scattered throughout. Sweet Girl is almost exactly that, but with its tendency to wander into a more adventurous territory, it sets itself up for a few falls too.

3

Summary

There are not many things better than a safe action film; something with a mostly structurally sound story, and explosions and punches scattered throughout. Sweet Girl is almost exactly that, but with its tendency to wander into a more adventurous territory, it sets itself up for a few falls too.

This review of the Netflix film Sweet Girl does not contain spoilers. 

Sweet Girl follows Ray (Jason Momoa) as he fights against a pharmaceutical company in a bid to bring to justice the people responsible for withdrawing the miracle drug that could have saved his wife, whilst also trying to protect his daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced). My feelings towards the film fluctuated dramatically throughout — so much so, in fact, that I’m not entirely sure where I stand with it now.

Everything kicks off with an opening scene that is revisited later on in the film after a couple of time-hops. There is very little context given, and you get the impression that it really is the hook to get you invested — a kind of ‘I bet you’re wondering how I got here’ type of opener, only far less tongue-in-cheek and perhaps a little too serious for its own good. It then steps back a few years and lays the foundations for everything that did indeed lead to the aforementioned moment. I don’t want to act like I’m above this kind of start to a film, but it does garner a little bit of an eye roll from me whenever I see it because it does feel a little bit overdone by this point. I get why writers go for that sort of structure, but more often than not it feels like a cop-out for not having an actual opening scene that is engaging enough to draw people in, as was the case here. How am I supposed to have confidence in the film if the makers themselves don’t?

It was during its foundation-laying stage that I got a bit panicked that Sweet Girl was going to act as a big ‘up yours!’ to the American healthcare system, which again, is not something that has been left untouched by Hollywood. For me, it’s a tired thread to unwind, and given the atrocities that continue to occur within that system with no one so much as batting an eyelid, I don’t care for seeing films getting on their soapbox about it.

Thankfully, it put that particular bone down pretty quickly and settled into its generic popcorn fodder surroundings early on. Everything became black and white in almost a split second. Our two protagonists and their departed loved one were angels, and everyone else besides them basically fell the wrong way out of Satan’s backside. This was a move I could get onboard with, and it is when it indulged in this particular quality that Sweet Girl excelled.

More to that point, I want to take a moment to talk about the action scenes in the film. I really enjoyed them, and how they were worked into and explained by the story. There’s some sort of MMA background for both Ray and Rachel — it was how they spent a lot of their daddy-daughter time, and made certain parts of the film seem a little more credible. Although, that same credibility goes out of the window rapidly when you see Justin Bartha rolling around the floor with Jason Momoa in one of the film’s early fight scenes. It was a bit like watching a chihuahua biting at the ankles of a Rottweiler — you already knew how that was going to end before it really got started. Aside from that, the action — especially the hand-to-hand combat sequences — was a real winner for me, and I just wish it had leant into that a little more.

Had Sweet Girl carried on down that simple but exciting enough action-thriller route, I’d probably have walked away much more confident in what I thought of it. However, it threw a small spanner into the works in the form of a twist that may very well have blown M. Night Shyamalan’s mind. I actually choked on my crisps when it happened because, quite frankly, I couldn’t believe the sheer balls of it. In a way, I admired the confidence that goes with making such a bold move. That being said, it felt a bit like one of those ideas that sounds better in theory than it works in practise, and it came off a little cheesy in the moment. Fortunately for me, although perhaps not for the filmmakers, it didn’t have the impact I think it had aimed for, which meant it didn’t serve as too much of a distraction for the rest of the film and we quickly got back on that gloriously comfortable but slightly safe action-thriller track. 

All in all, Netflix’s Sweet Girl is a film that is like a loose-fitting jumper; comfortable as anything and will keep you pretty contented, but you probably wouldn’t stick it on if you wanted to really impress someone. I liked the overall revenge vibe, but at times it forgot what it was and tried a bit too hard with ideas that were a little above its station. Despite this, it wasn’t something that offended my eyeballs, and as such it’s probably a safe bet for a movie night with friends and beer.

What did you think of the Netflix film Sweet Girl? Comment below. 

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