Jason Momoa has managed to cross something off every blockbuster actor’s bucket list: he has his own Netflix film.
Following Beckett, in which John David Washington found himself entangled and battling for his life, Momoa finds himself entangled and fighting for his life, as well as that of his daughter. Unlike Beckett, however, it’s a catastrophe he’s made for himself.
Sweet Girl opens with Ray Cooper (Momoa) on the run from the FBI, so we know that things have gone wrong for the family man. But, before he can be arrested, Ray jumps off the roof of PNC Park, Pittsburgh’s baseball stadium.
In a vague “years previously,” we learn how Ray ended up in this predicament, to begin with. As his wife (Adria Arjona) was ready to obtain a possibly life-saving medicine, dubious pharmaceutical company BioPrime pulls it from the market.
If the company’s CEO is responsible for her death, Ray swears vengeance, unaware that his pursuit for revenge may put his daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced) in danger. To protect his sole family and find the truth, Ray is forced into hiding after a tragic encounter.
If all of this seems a bit familiar, it’s because Sweet Girl is a recurring character. Retribution-thriller clichés abound, with a few conspiracy-thriller tropes thrown in. Although this isn’t a deal-breaker, Sweet Girl’s implementation of them is what makes it feel so stale in the first place.
However, Sweet Girl’s greatest strength is wasted by following well-trodden ground and doing it well. However, practically all of Momoa’s battle scenes are shaky, close-up camera views with rapid editing, often in low lighting that leaves you wondering what’s going on in the fight scene at the time.” Combining this with the absence of danger, the action set pieces are unable to get your heart racing.
That the film seems to think it’s more profound than it is doesn’t help either. After an opening monologue introduces the movie with cliches like, “As the years go by, we come to recognise that we are nothing more than our experiences.” However, the film continues to be dismal and sombre despite your best efforts to convince yourself otherwise.
Ray gives a major public figure a death threat in Sweet Girl, yet nothing happens to him due to it. In this case, the absurd plot doesn’t go well with the serious tone of the film. A clearer picture of the movie they were developing was necessary for everyone involved to make it work.
Sweet Girl will test even the most forgiving viewer’s ability to suspend belief in a revenge thriller. Unfortunately, like Taken, we don’t learn much about Ray’s past that explains how he can outwit and outfight such formidable assassins and security personnel.
There is no doubt that such story contrivances would be more tolerable if there were a sense of humour or self-awareness about it all. Yet, despite its dark tone, Sweet Girl insists on sticking with it, thinking that the film is making a deeper point than it is. “Big Pharma is terrible, right?” was the only conclusion that could be drawn from it.
That revelation almost saves the movie or at least makes you pay attention to what’s happening in the film. So even though it doesn’t make a lick of sense and contributes nothing new to the proceedings, it’s at least entertaining and well-hidden.
You would have to re-watch the film to see how it all fits together in a better movie. Unfortunately, Sweet Girl isn’t a movie you’ll want to watch again.