Those who listen to the podcast will know how much I love Jason Momoa. He’s always got so much energy, and is always so positive and kind to both his co-stars and his fans that it’s impossible not to like him. So, naturally, upon hearing about Sweet Girl, I knew immediately that I’d be watching upon release.
Ray Cooper (Momoa) is a family man – that is, until his family is torn apart by the greed of big pharma. After his wife is denied life-saving treatment due to corporate greed, Ray makes it his mission to exact revenge upon those responsible, embarking on a violent quest for vengeance that unearths a conspiracy far bigger than he’d anticipated.
Ray’s revenge is complicated somewhat by his teenage daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced), who finds herself caught up in avenging her mothers death while fending off hordes of assassins with her dad.
Sweet Girl is, on the face of it, a pretty standard action movie – but there is an emotional core that runs throughout which is brought to life by Momoa’s rage and heartbreak and the chemistry between Momoa and Merced. The Aquaman star delivers a powerful performance in an early hospital scene, but for the remainder of the movie he’s given little more to do than dodge assassins, beat bad guys to a pulp with his bare hands, and drive around with his daughter – and this is where Sweet Girl really failed to impress.
Still, the hospital scene in question shows exactly what Momoa is capable of – pacing like a caged animal as he looks for somewhere to break down, then wailing and collapsing to the ground as the weight of his loss takes hold. He’s a big man, and it’s all too easy to think of him as somewhat superhuman, but that single scene really does make the audience feel connected to Ray, and that shouldn’t go unsaid.
Its stars delivered decent performances in their respective roles, and some clever writing was able (mostly) conceal a third-act plot twist that considerably altered the film’s tone. In places, it’s able to tap into the emotional undercurrent beneath the story, and it also features some impressive action sequences. As I mentioned above, Momoa is a big guy, and while Ray is visibly powerful, Sweet Girl‘s action sequences feel pretty realistic, with the star taking almost as good as he gets, but driven on by his rage alone.
All in all, though, Sweet Girl is sort of a mess. There are a number of secondary characters that are given precious little to do, despite being relatively important to the plot, and there are more than a few moments of narrative convenience too large to fully overlook.
It’s far from perfect, but Sweet Girl does at least try to do something a little different. By blending action with drama and throwing in elements of a psychological thriller, it does seek to set itself apart from the pack, but it fails to capitalize on the charisma of its star or on the narrative weight of its own twist.
Still, for fans of action movies, Sweet Girl is a generally enjoyable experience. There was never a moment where I wasn’t entertained by the film, and in that instance, it did its job. I also failed to see the twist coming (despite knowing beforehand that there was one coming), and that did give me some added appreciation for the film’s writers.
I’d recommend Sweet Girl for a casual viewing – despite its emotionally charged premise, it’s basically just a good popcorn flick. No need to think too hard, just sit back and enjoy watching Jason Momoa go up against society’s elite with little more than a knife and a plastic bag.
Summary: An all-round entertaining film, with flashes of potential throughout. Solid action sequences, particularly from Momoa and Merced, but it somehow had both too much and too little to say, and the result felt a little hollow.
Highlight: Fight scenes that actually felt somewhat realistic was particularly refreshing, and the hospital scene actually gave Momoa a chance to be more than just an action star.