It is not new to Netflix the need to constantly have new productions that push subscribers to remain faithful to the service of Reed Hastings is one of the weak points of the service itself. in a period in which the fierce competition does not seem to be satisfied with sporadic cult like Stranger Things or more content but convincing productions such as The Umbrella Academyto keep up with its direct competitors, Netflix seems to have found its route in quantity rather than quality, a choice that has as its ultimate consequence the arrival in the catalog of the streaming service of End of the Roadnew original Netflix movie available from 9 September.
The criticism of the quality of some, perhaps too many, of the recent Netflix productions seems not to have been received. Productions such as Gray Man And Red Noticand they have revealed a certain insecurity in the selection of the proposals with which to enrich a schedule that seems to show little quality, often suffocated by an excessive abundance that willingly sacrifices quality in the name of an overwhelming offer that clouds the viewer. End of the Roadalthough the film is quite enjoyable, it is plagued by this practice of the streaming service, nullifying the good performance of a splendid Queen Latifah inserting it in a banal and flawed story from a point of view that is perhaps all too marked.
Netflix tries the thriller on the road card with End of the Road
Maggie (Queen Latifah) witnessed the slow passing of her beloved husband, who died of cancer despite her loving care. Inspired by the conviction that she always did the right thing, Maggie offered her husband the best therapies and treatments they could afford, getting into debt and making it necessary, on the death of her husband, to leave their home and build a new life elsewhere. Accompanying her, her two children, the eldest, Kelly (Mychala Lee), and little Cam (Shaun Dixon), and her brother Reggie (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges), the black sheep of the family, always looking for a convenient way to scrape together some extra cash.
Leaving the family home to look for a new beginning is the hope that drives Maggie to embark on a crossing of the nation, a choice that is not only the search for a restart, but also the attempt to leave an incurable pain behind. End of the Road was born as a sort of metaphorical journey, the abandonment of a past of suffering in favor of a more understanding and hopeful future. As can be easily understood, this road movie does not take long to take another direction, when the family, after witnessing a brutal murder, becomes the target of a criminal cartel that does not forgive the group for stealing a bag containing money. A reckless gesture that turns into the seed of a nightmare, a race against time with the life of Maggie’s family at stake.
The first part of the film focuses precisely on the emotional part of the story, with a delicate and bewitching construction of the moment of departure. Regrets and remorse intertwine in the regretful looks of Maggie, who cannot break away from the house where she lived her life with her late husband, or in the obstinacy of little Cam, who cannot accept to leave the only place that still does. feel close to the father. A strong and convincing emotional dynamic, the result of both the writing of David Loughery that of the sensitivity of Millicent Shelton to the direction. Our eye lingers calmly on the empty house, we see a grieving Queen Latifah strengthens herself in front of her loved ones and then shows yielding in the solitude of the room where her husband died.
This care in transmitting the emotions of the characters, in defining their soul, however, quickly disappears when the story seems to assume another nature. From a family drama, one suddenly passes to the thriller on the road, with an inexplicable desire to force the perception that every person encountered is a potential danger. The racial contrast between Maggie’s family and the retrograde social environment of the interior of the States, deliberately labeled in the film as violent and racist, borders on the macho, rather than engaging in a more reasoned socio-environmental analysis, as we have seen in films like The Green Book or American Elegy.
It is surprising that an author of the caliber of Loughery, who boasts a very respectable curriculum vitae (Passenger 57, Money Train, Star Trek: The Last Frontier), you fail to grasp the right balance of the different components of this thriller on the road. If on the one hand we can perceive the family spirit that binds Maggie to her children and brother Reggie, on the other we cannot ignore how the casus belli of the thriller component is stale, used countless times in the past (it would be enough to mention Non è un Paese for old men), to the point that any alleged plot twist linked to this mysterious theft of money from the crime scene is not surprising.
Guilt of uan unconvinced writing, which tends to slip into the macchiettistico painting a social contrast that is too marked to be credible, to the point that every narrative construction collapses under this overwhelming element, which is developed in a one-dimensional perspective, in which white is the villain par excellence, without nuances but made an absolute archetype that it easily loses credibility. Having to manage a story that already lacks originality in the conception phase, this further lack of flexibility and the imposition of a tight and unreal narrative rhythm definitively invalidates End of the Road, which becomes, starting from the middle of the film, obvious and banal , failing to captivate the viewer, without any astonishing narrative solution that could give an adrenaline rush to the audience. It proves it the lack of relevance between the different components of the film, in particular between the dialogues and the actions of the characters, which creates punctually disillusioned expectations, further eroding what little empathy one feels for the protagonists. What would be the sense of setting up an entire dialogue on the fact that the two young protagonists have learned from their military father to hunt and fight, if then for the whole film at every opportunity these alleged abilities do not emerge?
A predictable plot, between stereotypes and the absence of plot twists
A disappointing interpretation of a story that could count on the interpretation of a convincing Queen Latifah in the role of the desperate mother and ready for anything, especially in the first part of End of the Road, where her quest for a new life and bonding with her children is implied by Loughery and Shelton. All this despite the presence of a Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges increasingly a slave to his character in Fast & Furiousto the point that his Reggie is not very sensible in the dynamics of the film, useful only as a deus ex machina to give life to the chase and to show a belated moment of heroism that does not cancel the weakness of the rest of the film.
Lto the main flaw of End of the Road it is not very courageous writing, who prefers to stay on safe ground without daring new directions, preferring to play it safe but meeting the sensation of a gigantic dejà vu, knocking down the interest of the most demanding spectators. A shame, given the excellent direction of Millicent Shelton, wait to focus not only on the protagonists but also on the details of the setting, with camera movements that properly emphasize the topical moments of the story.
At the end of the vision, The End of the Road turns out to be a film like so many in the Netflix schedule, animated by promising ideas that are heavily downsized during the production phase, going to enlarge the catalog of the streaming service, overflowing with products that once we would have defined, with no little contempt, direct to video. Apparently, in the new entertainment mechanics the direct to stream risks becoming the receptacle for all the productions that, not reaching the big screen, obviously for excellent reasons, find a second chance in the streaming platforms. Whether it is a salvation or a definitive condemnation to oblivion, everything remains to be decided.