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Review: Relive (Sundance)

Relive (Sundance)
5 10

PLOT: After his beloved niece (Storm Reid) is brutally murdered, a cop (David Oyelowo) becomes obsessed with finding her killer, only to get help from an unexpected source- the girl herself in the days leading up to the murder.

REVIEW: RELIVE plays like a hodgepodge of DÉJÀ VU and FREQUENCY, with a little GROUNDHOG DAY thrown in for good measure. It’s a commercial effort from indie director Jacob Estes (MEAN CREEK) who teams with Blumhouse for a movie that falls outside the studio’s normal horror comfort zone, opting for a cop-thriller/ whodunit vibe that never really comes together. Nevertheless, it's an interesting effort from them to branch out commercially into different kinds of movies.

Time travel movies are always a bit dicey, as they have to establish rules pretty early on to keep the audience from complete and utter confusion, and RELIVE never really establishes those rules. In the film, Storm Reid’s Ashley is able to communicate by phone with Oyelowo’s Uncle Jack via cellphone, which is simple enough, but the effect of the changing the past on the future never quite makes sense. At one point, Oyelowo essentially gets a do-over, but how this happens isn’t really explained in a satisfying way, and the movie is full of moments like this, making it a frustrating watch.

Luckily, the movie benefits from two great performances, with Oyelowo mixing heart with tough guy muscles he hasn’t really had the opportunity to flex yet, and he’s always engaging, even when the film doesn’t really make sense. A WRINKLE IN TIME’s Storm Reid is similarly good, as the smart niece with a strong connection to her uncle Jack, and you buy the relationship.

The supporting cast is top shelf too, although the great Brian Tyree Henry is wasted in a minor role as Ashely’s ne’er do well dad, who’s caught up in a drug deal that spells disaster for his family, in one timeline at least. Alfred Molina chews scenery as the prototypical angry police chief, while Mykelti Williamson plays his best friend and partner. It also has a really good score by Ethan Gold, which deepens the emotion of the film in a significant way. It’s not subtle, but it’s effective.

Too bad then that the storyline is so frustrating, with a convoluted mystery at its heart that never really gets a satisfying resolution, although the film is never really that bad (in some ways it’s silly fun). Given the cast and the talent behind the camera, I thought the execution of this time travel thriller left something to be desired. It pales alongside the films it references and winds up just being an ok thriller than the terrific genre mash-up it could have been.

Source: JoBlo.com

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