I was looking around the Walmart looking for cheap new films to buy when I spotted Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter.  I picked it up and looked at the back cover.  I had already watched and already reviewed the film but I was interested to see what the back of the DVD said.  I put Rogue Warrior back and looked at the DVD directly above it.  I pulled out the film, titled Never Let Go, and read the back.  It looked like Taken but substituting Bryan Mills with a hot blonde mom.  I snapped a picture of the DVD and thought to myself it may be something that I should buy in the future.

I was very surprised when, many weeks later, Never Let Go’s press release stated that the film was released on DVD and Digital on August 22.  Did Walmart have an exclusive release window before the film was available anywhere else?  I looked back at the picture I took and saw it was taken on July 3rd, nearly two months ago.  I guess it’s a mystery I really don’t care about solving as I really just want to watch the film.

Never Let Go follows Lisa Brenna (Angela Dixon) as she travels to Morocco for vacation with her toddler.  Right away it seems like everyone in Morocco is either a creeper or just shies away from the white woman.  Now the film makes it seem that Morocco is just some shady ass place.  I thought to myself about my adventures when I traveled around some Arab countries.  I really never had a problem walking the streets or bazaars wherever I went.  I did go out with a few ladies and found that they were harassed a bit.  I don’t think that is just their culture.  I pretty much believe that if you are a woman of any race in any country you may be harassed from the streets of Manhattan to the streets of Casablanca.  Guys are jerks.  But in Never Let Go it really made everyone sort of look like a creeper.

Lisa takes a walk with her baby to the beach where she stares at the ocean.  The baby is in the stroller.  Dreadlocked dude comes up and starts chatting Lisa up.  He loves Americans and sits there conversing with Lisa until she looks over at the stroller and the baby is gone.  Lisa gets up and starts calling for the baby.  The baby is nowhere to be seen.  Two creepers are walking off towards the streets.  Lisa yells out.  One creeper, holding a bag, looks back at her.  Lisa starts running toward him.  He takes off running as well.

Now they are running through the alleys until Lisa is actually able to catch up to the creeper.  Suddenly Lisa is kicking this guy’s ass.  I’m really like WTF!?!?!?  This 102 pound woman can fight!?!?!?! She breaks the dude’s arm and knocks him back just as a car is driving through this alley.  Car runs his ass right over.  Lisa grabs the bag and looks inside.  It’s a watermelon.  She looks behind her and there is the other creeper.  This creeper actually has the kid and runs to a van.  Lisa goes buckwild.  Lisa gives chase and attacks them but they get away with her baby.  Lisa is not going down with a fight…and she is not letting anyone stop her from getting her baby back.  Not taxi drivers, not grieving parents, not creepers, and not even the cops.

So the film is a pretty good mixture of Taken and Jodie Foster’s Flightplan.  Flightplan had Jodie Foster on a plane with her daughter.  She falls asleep and when she wakes up her daughter is gone.  When she asks about her daughter EVERYONE is like, “You didn’t bring your daughter on this flight.”  Jodie feels like she’s going crazy but doesn’t stop until she figures out what is going on.  The same thing pretty much happens to Lisa in this film.  The police just think she is an insane crazy person who is running around beating people up trying to find an imaginary baby.  They don’t believe her.  They just want to lock her up.

Lisa really can kick everyone’s ass (and continuously does so).  It really is ambiguous on how she has this training.  She has connections to a politician and, in turn, some connections in the federal government.  But how she can run around, kick everyone’s ass, and fire a weapon off with deadly accuracy is beyond me.  I’m going to go back to Taken for one second.  I’m not going to compare the two I’m just going to explain how they set up the character of Bryan Mills in just a few sentences.  Bryan’s buddies come over to hang out.  We learn that all of these men are ex-CIA.  They ask Bryan to do a job for them, he does, and ends up saving the day of a singer.  We don’t know what he did for the CIA nor do we need it explained.  But those first few minutes of Taken sets Bryan up wonderfully and prepares us for the rest of that film.

In Never Let Go we see Lisa as a broken woman in the States who basically goes on vacation with her newborn.  She really just seems like a clueless waif until she suddenly kicks the first creeper’s ass.  There’s no set up for it.  Is she ex-military?  Ex-spook?  Is she doing Krav Maga three times a week?  They then start to skirt around it by implying but not explicitly saying.  Unless I really just missed it.  But I don’t believe I missed unless it was some throwaway line that I didn’t catch.

None of this really takes away from the actual film itself.  Once I got past the very cheesy beginning (which doesn’t involve Lisa but is actually relevant to the plot later) I had a good time.  It was beautifully shot and the acting was quite solid.  The script could have used more exposition but in the end not having it doesn’t really hurt the film.

If I am going to have any sort of problem it is with star Angela Dixon but not the type of problem you would expect.  This is because she is one hell of an actress and I really believed in her passion and fury while trying to get back her baby.  But you can very much see that this great actress is not an action star.  Quick cuts and very weird angles are edited together for some of the fights to make it appear like she is kicking ass.  Clearly Dixon is not an action star.  Some of the fights are edited together to look convincing.  Other times these fights do not look good at all making me wondered why they decided to edit the fight in that way.  It really varied.  Dixon also has “Tom Cruise run” so it was really all I could think about when she was running around.  And she does A LOT of running.

They do say “yalla” a ton in this movie which I approve of.  When I lived in the Middle East “Yalla emshi” was among my favorite Arabic terms.  If you want to play a Never Let Go drinking game you can do a shot every time they say yalla.  You may be drunk fast.

Overall Never Let Go is a real solid flick.  I think the DVD sells the movie short because it makes it feel like a B-movie.  It really did not feel that way watching this film.  There was great production values and great direction from writer/director Howard J. Ford.  There are many points in this film that are quite suspenseful especially as Lisa is chasing the kidnappers and everyone else is chasing Lisa.  There’s some really great tension that left me wondering, “How the hell is she going to get out of this one?”  The flick was truly action packed suspense – just an excellent film to watch.  I really had a great time.

I did have one MAJOR problem.  This film was completed in 2015.  So they shot…2013? 2014?  Lisa is obviously a woman who is a bit well off financially and also has some contacts in the intelligence community.  SO WHY OH WHY ARE YOU USING A FLIP PHONE IN 2015?!?!?!!?!? YOU’RE TEARING ME APART, LISA!  I will take you to AT&T and hook you up with an iPhone 7.

The only other issue is the special features on this disk or really the lack thereof.  No trailer.  No deleted scenes.  No featurette.  Not even a director’s commentary.  While I’m not a big commentary fan I think I would have loved to listen to Ford’s commentary – especially since he wrote, produced, and directed this film.

So if you liked Taken and thought, “How would this be with a female protagonist?” then this movie is really for you.  I really liked how empowered Angela Dixon’s Lisa was.  Nothing was going to get in her way.  I really enjoyed her frenetic search to track down her baby.  God forbid you get in her way because you may find yourself bleeding on the ground crying for your mom.

RANK: B+
SPECIAL FEATURES: F

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