CAPSULE: Filmed in large part in Morocco, NEVER LET GO is an action thriller about a new mother traveling in North Africa when her baby is kidnapped. NEVER LET GO has some good action, too much really, but suffers from an overly formulaic script. What could be a credible suspense plot is squandered on a new mother suddenly exhibiting Jason Bourne's superhuman strategic talents for fighting and chasing. The film is produced, scripted by, and directed by newcomer Howard J. Ford. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
[Following the main body of the review is an important note on the statistics given and a comment that could be considered a spoiler.]
NEVER LET GO begins with a home invasion in which a baby is stolen and is reported missing. It then tells the viewer this dire statistic, "Over 800,000 children are reported missing every year. The first three hours are critical. After that, there is less than a 25% chance of finding them." The 25% statistic is not referred to again, and it just overhangs the narrative. This is a film mostly about a different child snatching.
In the main plot Lisa Brennan (played by Angela Dixon) is a young mother who is traveling with her baby daughter in Marrakech, Morocco. She is sitting on a beach with her baby when a man comes over to talk to her. That moment of distraction was all someone needed to grab the baby and make off with her.
So far it is a reasonably believable circumstance. Now things start going haywire with both the thieves' plan and with the film's script. They picked the baby daughter of Lisa and Lisa has the fighting and chasing skills of a James Bond or a Jason Bourne. It seems that Lisa may look domestic as a mother taking care of her baby, but she is actually also a US government agent. The script explains why she has this amazing skill set, but it still makes it too contrived and convenient that she has nearly the powers of a super hero.
This somewhat ruins the suspense since in spite of wounds that would have stopped another person short, she can transform herself from a good mother to a "mean muthah." She can chases up walls, bounds from rooftop to rooftop; she seems to be an adept martial artist. After she is badly cut in her side she needs just a needle and thread to stitch herself up without benefit of anesthetic. No problem. In general she is the wrong person to steal a baby from. She is called on to kill the baddies in her quest to get her baby back and does not suffer any qualms.
NEVER LET GO has a pacing problem as the script seems to be designed to show off Dixon's skills, but as with many action films, when the action really gets going the plot narrative stops dead. For ten-minute intervals Lisa climbs walls, runs over the tops of buildings, survives car accidents, and generally does her action hero thing. All this time the story is on hold. This is not really a criticism since it probably is what most of the target audience wants to see. Once we have seen her hugging the baby, it is hard to really think of her as the action hero. But the acting serves the film better than the plot does. I rate NEVER LET GO a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.
NEVER LET GO was available on DVD and VOD as of August 22.
[Reuters, the international news agency, reports that the domestic danger from kidnappers is much lower than represented here. See the April 26, 2012, article MISSING CHILDREN IN U.S. NEARLY ALWAYS MAKE IT HOME ALIVE at http://tinyurl.com/mrl-kidnap.]
[SMALL SPOILER ALERT: Do not expect much along the lines of suspense. The real villain of the story is instantly recognizable as the bad guy of the piece. If you cannot figure out who is doing what to whom you don't see enough mystery films.]
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3833474/combined
What others are saying: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/never_let_go_2015
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper