Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Luke Evans, Teresa Palmer, Alfred Molina, Natalie Martinez, Tom Felton
Directed By: Fabrice du Welz
Plot: Jacob King (Boseman) travels to Los Angeles from South Africa in search of his sister that he hasn’t spoken to in a while. He soon becomes afraid that she may have been killed by some shady figures, and starts to uncover the mystery of what happened to Bianca.
What Works: It’s a somewhat serviceable, average revenge thriller. There isn’t anything special, except for one twist near the end. I honestly didn’t expect Molina’s character to be tied in THAT way, and it definitely surprised me. Otherwise, the rest of the film is pretty much laid out as you would expect in a typical revenge thriller. The acting here is fine, with Boseman doing most of the heavy lifting. The film is somewhat well-shot, going for a very grainy look to enhance the idea that Los Angeles is this seedy town.
What Doesn’t Work: I hated the score for the most part. I didn’t think it matched what was happening. It felt like someone bought a generic film score off a website and laid it over the movie. Not all actors are created equal, and Teresa Palmer again struggles to act her way out of a paper bag. I routinely feel like she’s not up to par with her cast mates, and she is again a let down here. The film also just doesn’t give a fuck sometimes. There was a scene where the respectable dentist (Evans) meets with a guy running for office, and he’s like “If anyone sees you here, you were making a campaign donation.” To the rest of the world, isn’t he a rich dentist? Like, what else would he be doing/ He’s not publicly known for being a shady asshole, so why would anyone assume you were doing shady deals? The title is also just stupid. Message From The King? I get it. His last name is King. But his last name is King in a way that almost feels like you wanted a film called Message From The King, so you decided to name him King. I’d also say the film is a bit longer than it needs to be, due in part to Jacob needing to go from person to person to person in order to find out what happened to his sister. And some scenes are long, and some scenes are unnecessary.
Final Word: Netflix didn’t make this one. They bought this one. I was immediately worried when I saw Entertainment One’s logo in front of the film. They handle a lot of straight-to-video work, and even though it seems a little early in Boseman’s career for him to be doing STV work, that’s what this is. It’s an OK straight to video film, with some flaws, and some positives to take away. Still, it’s more rotten than fresh.
Final Grade: C-