Not having seen any of the previous entries in the surprisingly enduring franchise (which, after four films, now also boasts a television show), I have no context to offer in terms of the series itself. What I did notice however, is that while there are a number of interesting ideas and pointed social critiques throughout the movie’s narrative, there never seems to be any focus. The movie goes from scene to scene dispassionately, defining its characters mostly through clumsy expository dialogue and thereby keeping them at arm’s length. The screenplay is noticeably stiff, as though screenwriter James DeMonaco only submitted an outline draft instead of a fully realized narrative, and it leads to a number of groan-inducing exchanges that undercut the premise’s seriousness and all its fascinating socio-political implications. It really is a shame, because there’s the nugget of a terrific and topical concept here, but this movie feels like it should have been left to cook in the oven for a little while longer, because it wasn’t quite ready to be served yet.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)