DON’T LET GO is an intense, ultimately satisfying thriller. Los Angeles Police Detective Jack Radcliff is stunned to learn that his beloved teenage niece, Ashley, is the victim of a murder-suicide involving his troubled brother and Ashley’s mother. At their funeral, Jack admits to his fellow police detective and friend, Bobby, that he prayed to God Ashley had not been murdered. Then, Jack gets a shocking phone call from Ashley where Ashley seems to be calling him four days before she was murdered. Working with her across time, Jack tries to solve and stop Ashley’s murder before it can happen.
DON’T LET GO is extremely suspenseful and well-acted. David Oyelowo as Uncle Jack, Mykelti Williamson as Bobby, and newcomer Storm Reid as Ashley are great. Even better, the movie has a strong Christian, moral worldview that extols prayer and promotes close family ties. However, parts of the plot are confusing, and the movie’s happy ending could have been even happier. Also, DON’T LET GO contains some very strong violence and some strong obscenities. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for this objectionable content.
(CC, BB, LL, VVV, AA, DD, MM):
Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong Christian, moral worldview includes a prayer to God is partially answered positively (God sometimes says no and God sometimes says yes but in the movie God seems to say yes and no), extols family ties and shows good overcoming evil, marred by some gratuitous violence and foul language
16 obscenities (five “f” words but only during the climax) and seven light exclamatory profanities when people are shocked, startled or disturbed by something
High level of violence with blood (often intense and some of it strong and some of it very strong) includes about three scenes of a police detective walking through a couple different murder scenes with bloody results of three family members having been shot to death (the images in the scenes change once after the man slightly changes “history”), some bloody crime scene photos of the victim that the detective is perusing as he looks for clues, several bloody shootings (camera often looks away when the actual bullets are implied to hit), man shot in head, images of bloody walls and bloody bathtub and pool of blood near family dog who’s been shot dead by villain, man shot twice in stomach and once in chest in three scenes, villain shoots dog and a man and a woman in one scene, drive by shooting occurs where man gets wounded in stomach, but he does things afterwards until he finally loses conscious and is taken to a hospital, short gunfight in a warehouse, it’s implied a man is hit in stomach with a baseball bat, two intense scenes where teenage girl is chased by a couple villains, and she tries hide and run, intense scene as teenage girl spies on a meeting of several criminals, and she has to hide, another man is shot dead in one intense scene
No sex but girl comes home as mother is lying on bed in her clothes with her shoes off while her father sits on the bed, strums a guitar and fiddles with a song he just wrote
Some alcohol use and brief talk about a man having an alcohol problem in the past
Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking but brief references to cocaine (the plot is partly about some kind of disagreement over some cocaine being sold [movie is a little unclear on this point], plus brief talk about a man being addicted to drugs in the past; and,
Strong miscellaneous immorality includes father hides illicit activity from his family, a plot by some corrupt police is revealed, villain frames murder victim to make a crime scene look like a murder-suicide, and some criminals seem to place a teenage girl’s father under some kind of threats and duress.
DON’T LET GO, a small thriller, seems to play around with this idea of time, of past, present and future. In the story, a Los Angeles police detective gets a shocking phone call from his recently-murdered teenage niece and, working with her across time, he tries to solve her murder before it can happen. As he does this, however, changes occur within his own reality, because he changes some of the things his niece does before the fateful day when she, and her mother and father, were murdered.
The movie begins with Detective Jack Radcliff picking up his teenage niece, Ashley, after a movie when her father doesn’t show up like he promised. On the drive back to her house, it’s revealed that Jack gave Ashley a cellphone so that she could call him whenever she needs.
Shortly thereafter, Jack gets a strange, garbled call from Ashley that indicates she might be in some trouble. He’s worried that his brother, Ashley’s father, might have relapsed after years of being sober from a previous alcohol and drug addiction. He rushes over to his brother’s house only to find everyone shot dead, including the family dog. The police rule the homicides as murder-suicide, blaming Ashley’s father.
At the funeral for Ashley and her parents, Jack confides in his detective friend, Bobby, that he prayed to God that the murders didn’t take place. The next night, Jack is surprised when his phone seems to be getting a call from Ashley. He doesn’t answer the first call, but he gets another call from her right away after he didn’t answer. During the call, Ashley tells Jack that, after Jack admonished his brother, her father apologized for failing to pick her up the one night and even gave her a brand new bicycle that she’s been wanting.
Jack doesn’t know if he’s going mad or if he’s entered some kind of Twilight Zone. Whatever, he returns to the crime scene and discovers a flaw in the police reasoning that his brother was drunk the night of the homicides and committed murder and suicide. The empty liquor bottle found near his brother’s body was not a kind that his brother ever drank, and the bottle of the alcohol he did drink downstairs was more than half full.
So, Jack starts investigating his brother more fully to see if maybe his brother ran afoul of one of his former criminal associates. Also, Ashley keeps calling him, so Jack starts enlisting her help in his investigation. Unknown to him, however, the Ashley from the past starts doing some investigating of her own. The changes they make at first don’t seem to make Ashley any safer and even endanger Jack’s own life.
Will Jack be able to prevent the murder of his niece and her parents? Will Ashley be able to save herself or her parents? Or, will all their efforts come to naught, ending with him being murdered too?
DON’T LET GO is an intense, satisfying thriller with a couple strong positive messages. Essentially, for example, the movie tells viewers, don’t let go of your loved ones and send your regrets to God in prayer.
The acting in DON’T LET GO is entirely believable. David Oyelowo as Uncle Jack, Storm Reid as Ashley, Mykelti Williamson as Bobby, and Alfred Molina as Jack and Bobby’s boss are superb and create believable characters. Viewers will be easily engrossed in their story.
That said, when the movie’s climax switches back and forth in time, the camera is a bit too close to the action, and some of the dramatic tension provided by the brilliant editing seems lost. Also, the motive for the original murders that starts the plot is a little murky. As a result, the motive behind the villain’s ruthless behavior is slightly minimized. It’s only after the movie, when a viewer might have time to reflect on what happened, that some of the confusion clears up. Even so, the ending is still exciting and suspenseful, and the movie generated a lot of applause during the final credits from the audience at the screening MOVIEGUIDE® attended.
Sadly, though, there’s a high level of violence involving bloodletting in DON’T LET GO. Also, there are many intense scenes involving violence and the threat of violence. This alone would warrant extreme caution fort all viewers. Even worse, however, the movie’s ending has two of the characters letting loose with some “f” words. One of the “f” words comes from the teenage niece when she calls the murderer an obscene name after he shoots the family dog and threatens to murder her father and mother. Most of the other “f” words come from the main villain. It’s a little bizarre (not to mention annoying, of course) that the “f” words only show up at the movie’s very intense climax. They may have made sense to the actors and filmmakers considering the intense situations happening during the climax, but they don’t fit with the rest of the movie.
A superficial reading of DON’T LET GO might assert that the movie is teaching viewers that people can change what happened in the past like some mystical pagan sorcerer or Eastern shaman. That would be unfair, however. Actually, the movie shows that, as Jack and his niece interact with one another, the past completely disappears and situations change in major ways. Even more importantly, the movie’s ending shows that Uncle Jack’s prayer to God is partially answered positively. Thus, God is actually given the credit for the phone calls that Uncle Jack gets from his beloved niece. Also, at the end, Uncle Jack’s niece asks him to save her from the villain, and it will save him in return. As a result, MOVIEGUIDE® believes that DON’T LET GO has a strong Christian worldview that extols prayer to God and promotes close family ties. We also think, though, that DON’T LET GO could have been even stronger and more positive, with an even happier ending.
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