The father-daughter relationship sucks, and so does the movie.
Jason Momoa has earned more attention because of his commitment as Aquaman in the recent DC Universe. It’d be a shame for me to like his Aquaman movies, including the director’s cut of “Justice League,” more than his regular roles, but his latest non-Aquaman movie “Sweet Girl” is a dismal, run-of-the-mill action picture. In it, he plays the family man Ray Cooper, who goes on the run with his teenage daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced), and they engage with one underdeveloped argument after another. By “underdeveloped,” I mean they just come and go with one-liners and the same old quotes “That’s not fair” and “Life’s Not Fair.”
It’s not just the father-daughter bickering, but also you can tell who are the bad guys, because their aspects and tones seem to imply that. How? They’re either the heads of big companies or politicians who need the money to win their elections.
As the movie opens, Ray’s wife (Adria Arjona) is dying of cancer, because Simon Keeley (Justin Bartha), the CEO of the pharmaceutical company BioPrime, has pulled the drug that could have saved her off the market. He calls him on television threatening to kill him if his wife dies. Six months later, while raising his teenage daughter Rachel, he receives a phone call from a man named Martin Bennett (Nelson Franklin), who has proof about the company’s greed. They have to meet at the local subway station, and Rachel wants to come with him, but he tells her to stay home.
She still follows him, and both she and her dad survive a fight with Bennett’s assassin (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). Two years later, while BioPrime collaborates with Congresswoman Diana Morgan (Amy Brenneman), Ray is trying to pin all of the pieces together, while Rachel believes it’s nothing more than a conspiracy. But underneath her “Clean out the rot” slogan, you can easily tell Morgan is a bad guy, especially when she runs for Senator of Pennsylvania.
He makes his way into a charity benefit where he kills Simon in self-defense. That’s when he and his daughter have to go on the run. And remember how he threatened to kill the CEO on television? The police all have that on him, and I’m going to have to assume he used a credit card at a motel, because how else were two assassins able to find them? Either that or they traced his car.
From a motel payphone, the daughter calls the main FBI agent (Lex Scott Davis) telling her Ray killed Simon in self defense and that the CEO is the real criminal. She tells the agent her father is a good man, and is told to buy a disposable phone so she can’t be traced. The agent tells the girl that she’s in control, and that’s why she persuades her father to take her with him.
And spoiler alert: there has to be an M. Night Shyamalan-inspired twist to the story, which makes no sense, and its only excuse is that Ray tells his daughter that drastic moments can resort in dreams.
Momoa is a charming actor, and he does use his emotions wisely in regards to the bad pharmaceutical company, although he shouldn’t have threatened to kill the CEO on TV, which sets the po-po on Tommy Lee Jones mode (“The Fugitive” reference is always required). When he cries, he sounds like he’s laughing, and when his daughter fights with him, there’s nothing to be said and done. Merced can be a good young actress, if only she was given the right roles in the right films, as examined in “Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life” or “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” In this movie, her acting is flat and routine, and the twist to her character has to leave us in anguish. It’s dumb, and so is the movie.
Streaming on Netflix