This well-acted movie version of the hit Showtime series misfires.
I’m more into movies than I am in most TV shows, because there’s so many of them, it’s hard to keep up. That’s why I haven’t watched “Yellowstone” or “Ted Lasso” or “Succession” yet. And as Roger Ebert said: “When you see 500 movies a year you don’t have a lot of left over yearning for watching television.”
I’m sorry I can’t be as punctual as every TV fan, but I can review the made-for-Showtime movie version of one of its most popular series “Ray Donovan.” It sounds tedious that I would review the movie version of the show, and not the actual show, but then again Roger Ebert could barely tell the difference between Beavis & Butthead and yet still give “Beavis & Butthead Do America” thumbs up.
“Ray Donovan: The Movie” might appease fans of the series, but it didn’t really speak to me the way TV transcended-into-movies like “Downton Abbey” did. It has its moments of danger and emotions, and Liev Schreiber is able to reprise his title character role very well, but it seems a bit rushed and all over the place with its flashbacks, phone calls, and present timeline.
The movie takes place after the end of the series when Ray has to deal with his father Mickey (Jon Voight), who goes on the run in Boston. He’s always hated him since childhood for his abusive and neglectful behavior, and that’s why he plans to kill him.
The supporting cast also includes Alan Alda as the psychiatrist Dr. Amiot, whom Ray talks to about his sins, Eddie Marsan and Dash Mihok as Ray’s brothers Terry and Bunchy, and Kerris Dorsey as his daughter Bridget. She joins her uncles on the trek to find Ray, even though Terry warns her it’s not safe.
And we also get flashback sequences when the young Mickey (Bill Heck) gets at his son (Chris Gray plays the younger Ray), who is about to enter the adulthood fans know and love.
“Ray Donovan: The Movie” works half the time when it knows how to handle the guns and tears, and when the actors nail their roles. The best sequence is when Mickey gets held at gunpoint in a car, which hits Ray, who then shoots the driver, and goes flying. Schreiber has the guts to give his character a final spin, Voight and Heck both have their attitudes as the old and young Mickey, and Dorsey uses her words and tone wisely as Bridget.
But the other half of the movie didn’t really grab my attention. It was basically the same elements I’ve seen done better in many other crime dramas. They don’t have the kind of structure or charisma they deserve. And the flashback sequences aren’t as provocative as the present scenes are.
Maybe this mixed review is the result of me never having seen the Showtime series, and I’m sorry I can’t be as up to date as every TV fan can. Excuses, excuses, excuses, but I still can’t praise every movie version of TV shows. It doesn’t have the movie transition tradition that “Downton Abbey” offered, and I’m really excited to see its sequel.
Now Streaming on Showtime