Don’t Let Go is a time-traveling Blumhouse Sci-Fi thriller that will have audiences on the edge of their seat and screaming at the screen. Featuring strong performances from David Oyelowo, who plays Detective Jack Radcliff and Storm Reid who plays his beloved niece, Ashley.
When Jack receives a strange phone call from his niece he heads to her house to figure out what happened. What he finds is a double murder-suicide, something that doesn’t sit well with the seasoned detective. His quest to figure out what really happened seems like the incoherent ramblings of someone struggling to deal with their grief until he starts getting phone calls from his dead niece Ashley.
Through his phone calls with Ashley, Jack realizes that she’s still alive in an alternate reality two weeks before she and her parents were killed. What happens next is a wild attempt to exonerate his brother, figure out who the real killer is, and save them all before time runs out. The film definitely gives Butterfly Effect or Frequency vibes, where a change in the past flickers into the present leaving Jack disoriented and even more confused about how any of it is possible.
Don’t Let Go gives us a world where all the central characters are Black or Latino, without the film being explicitly about race — a rarity in Hollywood. But as Angelica Jade Bastién asks in Vulture, is race inconsequential to our experience and can colorblind writing actually work? In a conversation between Oyelowo and Director Jacob Aaron Estes, Oyelowo proudly discussed his decision to take on a role not explicitly written as Black.
“One of the things I am absolutely dedicated to is getting to see people of color in front of and behind the camera telling stories that are universal, expansive and are not necessarily tied to race because I truly believe in this medium as powerful for cultural change,” he said. But is that what the film did? Or did it take a crucial component away from the characters? We’re still trying to figure it out.
Despite the many sweet scenes and great chemistry between Jack and Ashley, one of the inconsistencies of the film is how he’s getting phone calls from the past as well as how the changes Ashley makes show up in the present. There is a lot of confusion that is transmitted through camera angles that obscure and disorients the viewer, leaving us wondering is he going crazy? Is he dreaming? Is any of this real?
Jack seems unhinged, lost, and unreliable. Many times he runs sloppily into danger without a second thought— to his own detriment. And many times the film seemed a bit predictable with cop tropes. There is also the issue of why didn’t Jack just tell Ashley what was going on? But just like the phone calls, nobody knows why.
Unlike films like Taken, Man on Fire or movies where the deceased female character needs to be avenged, Don’t Let Go gives Ashley the ability to save herself, save her uncle, and uncover a conspiracy in the process. Something that Estes says was deliberate considering the times.
“I just think it’s important for young women to have the agency to save themselves, and I wanted to have a young woman do that in my story. Especially in the climate that we’re in of repression and #MeToo, it felt like an important message to instill in the character,” He told HipLatina.
Overall this is a film that will thrill, confuse, and leave audiences wondering long after they’ve left the theater.
Don’t Let Go premiers Friday, August 30th.