End of the Road Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A family road trip that tries to be thrilling, by including ridiculous crime arcs & a female lead, which is incomprehensibly good at everything. It gets boring fast!
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Director: Millicent Shelton
Cast: Queen Latifah, Ludacris, Mychala Lee, Shaun Dixon, Beau Bridges, Frances Lee McCain, Tabatha Shaun & Jasper Keen.
Run Time: 91 min.
US Release: 09 September 2022 (Netflix)
UK Release: 09 September 2022 (Netflix)
German Release: 09 September 2022 (Netflix)
If I didn't know any better, I would say that movies like this, which have consistently been released on Netflix this year, are why the streaming service giant is losing subscriptions on mass. Their current motto is quantity over quality and it is getting to the point where I am even considering cancelling! Millicent Shelton’s directorial feature debut, is absolute trash, using the names of Latifah and Ludacris to entice viewers! So sit back, relax and let me explain to you everything that is wrong with End of the Road!
Fate is not kind to recently widowed mother Brenda. She loses her job, needs to sell her house and moves across the country with her children and brother. When the family becomes involved in a murder while on the road, a missing bag of money puts her children in grave danger. Brenda needs to fight for all of their lives.
Sharing first some of the positive aspects; the film does start strong! Right from the get-go, we are informed about the lead’s emotional plus financial distress in an interesting opening scene. After that, the story introduces us to her family, including flashbacks of happier times with her husband, just before she is forced out of her home. All of these points manage to emotionally attach the viewer to the character of Brenda and her situation.
Plot issues arise, as soon as they get in the car and drive off towards Texas. It would have been better, If the narrative played out like Joy Ride, as a road thriller. Instead of a maniac truck driver, it could have been two characters that appear early in the first act, molesting the family with racial stereotypes. Sadly, it veers off into many different situations, all of them being racially motivated, which quickly get out of hand. None of them progress or add to the main story, however, thus leading to uneven pacing.
The constant repetition of being racially targeted gets old fast, eliminating any statements that writers Christopher J. Moore and David Loughery try to make. Then there is the sudden shift in tone at the end, with fast-paced, bloody action, which is fun to see yet doesn’t fit how the first hour played out. The narrative has severe plot holes, just like logical issues that make no sense whatsoever.
The dialogues, which are at first touching, suddenly turn overdramatic, silly and right out cringeworthy. Ludacris’s persona is painted as an SNL parody, cracking constantly unfunny jokes, while Latifah’s Brenda suddenly lets out cheesy action flick one-liners, uncharacteristic of how she was previously captured.
Brenda, played by Queen Latifah, is a likeable lead character. Viewers can sympathise with her difficult situation, and her devotion to her children is endearing. That said, she also makes dumb decisions throughout the progression of the story! Paired with a sudden combat knowledge, as well as amazing shooting skills, Brenda is turned into a Mary Sue in the third act of the film. It is a little unbelievable that an ER nurse, can suddenly beat up a group of rednecks without breaking a sweat. Latifah did a convincing job as the lioness-mother, not, however, as the hardass Jane McClane!
Ludacris portrays the most annoying character in my opinion! Reggie is loud-mouthed, unthankful, even rude to his sister and the memory of her deceased husband. It is thanks to him, that the whole family gets into danger, as he has poorer judgment than Brenda. How his persona wasn’t tossed out of the car by his sister, is beyond any explanation! Ludacris, on the other hand, does his best with the material given. The goofy look he has going, paired with the gangster attitude, does get viewers smirking.
Mychala Lee and Saun Dixon, play the children of Brenda, Kelly and Cam respectively. At first dislikeable personas, as they are being unnecessarily rude to their mother, they start growing as characters as the plot progresses. Both give passable renditions, with Lee acting a little better than Dixon.
Finally, there is Beau Bridges, who plays Hammers. It becomes immediately clear what the character’s role is in the plot, making the whole third-act reveal redundant. Bridges gave one of the worst over-the-top portrayals I have seen in a long time!
The camera work underlines the incohesive mess this movie is! There are beautiful pans plus zoom-ins of the empty house at the beginning, just for the next scene to use some of the most unimaginative shots, showing the family driving out of L.A. It is an issue that spans throughout the whole feature; the audience obtains an interesting shot frame, in exchange for further 20 minutes of a boringly filmed road trip. The colour palette is also an issue, the overly saturated blues and greens, make it look absolutely fake, while the inexplicable use of purple/pink neon colours at night gives it a Lovecraftian touch that doesn’t suit the plot’s atmosphere!
Nonetheless, the blood and gore effects at the end do look passable enough, though the CG bullet time is among one of the worst I have seen, once again proving the distortion in tone! Not many effects are used, apart from the few at the end, which are mostly added in dark scenes, to mask the cheap quality.
The music is passable, making use of a lot of RnB and Hip Hop melodies. Other than that, composer Craig DeLeon, crafted a pretty standard action score, when things get out of hand.
Verdict: Millicent Shelton’s feature debut, started off strong but ended as an absolute disaster, with disjointed storytelling plus way too many diversion. Instead of focusing on the emotional narrative, it sets up in its introductory scene and evolving it from there into a high-stakes thriller, Shelton cops out taking the cheap route of an unbelievable action flick. The lead character, a mother played by Queen Latifah, suddenly becomes a master of beating-up bad guys, never obtaining a scratch or breaking a sweat. Her brother is a loudmouth and a fool, who gets the family in trouble in the first place. The cinematography has a couple of nice scenes but is boring for the longest part. Finally, the musical score is also unimaginative. The best part about it is that it's over after 90 minutes. This really is the end of the road… for Netflix! This garbage obtains a 3.5 out of 10.