Papa’s Got A Brand New Sag.
Brian Cox is the one who tries to save “Prisoner’s Daughter” from being a total disaster. He plays an ex-boxer and convict named Max, who finds out he’s terminally ill, and is allowed to be released under house arrest. He gives the most human performance in the film, while other stars are wasted and no cliches are left unturned.
Kate Beckinsale overacts as his daughter Maxine, who is struggling to take care of her son Ezra (Christopher Convery), who suffers from epilepsy and the school bullies who even threaten him with a knife. She has to deal with stubborn principals and her abusive, junkie ex-husband Tyler (Tyson Ritter), whose unacceptable behavior gets her canned.
Max calls Maxine and asks to spend his final years with her. As angry as she is at him, she agrees to let him stay with her and Ezra, on the condition that he pays rent and provide his own food and toiletries. And despite the fact that he can never make up for what he put her and her late mother through, he still tries to make things right while he can.
Ezra is tired of those bullies, and so Max has his old buddy Hank (Ernie Hudson) train him to fight in his gym. Hudson had a decent supporting role in the sporting genre in “Champions” this year, and he does what he can with this character here. At least he doesn’t try as hard or haphazardly as the other supporting actors.
But the biggest issue in the kid’s life is that he wants to see his father Tyler (Tyson Ritter), despite his addiction and behavior. He lives in a crack house, and desperately wants to see his son, but Maxine constantly warns him to clean up his act. And I mean really clean up. But how can we trust him to get better? He has no redeeming qualities. “To Leslie” had a junkie whom we cared about, and who can change her ways. This guy, not so much.
“Prisoner’s Daughter” was directed by Catherine Hardwick, who seems to be losing her way lately with “Miss Bala,” “Mafia Mamma,” and now this one. There are times when we feel bad for Max and the impact he left on his daughter, and Cox is convincing enough to portray him in that notion. But the script by Marc Bacci is all over the place with clichés. His daughter has to be mad at him, his grandson has to be the curious one with all these questions, and his ex-son-in-law has to be the evil one.
Beckinsale has done better in the past, but it would take a miracle to give her the right comeback. This year alone, “Fool’s Paradise” and “Prisoner’s Daughter” are not exactly acting upgrades for her. She can use an American accent, but her performance here is over-the-top and pushy. And the relationship with Convery is often annoying, especially in this genre.
Cox is the star of the show, and he knows how to play this boxer-turned-convict-turned-redeeming lousy father. He just is given the right script or direction or supporting characters. It just knocks us around over and over and over again.
Playing in Select Theaters