Writer and director Howard J. Ford is part of the Ford brothers team responsible for minor horror hit zombie flick The Dead and its sequel, here going it alone in a different genre. The premise is straight out of action-movie school 101, with a measured build up until Lisa inevitably must rely upon her unleashed skills to not only survive and evade capture by the authorities but get her daughter back.
Ford has a history as a commercials director and it shows, with the opening of the film especially so redolent of that advertisement style to the extent we expected a brand name or slogan to pop up. It’s not too distracting, however, once the kidnap happens. Things kick into higher gear and it changes into something more kinetic and reminiscent of the Bourne films, another clear influence, and the two styles work better together. Never Let Go doesn’t reinvent the story wheel from its myriad of recent superior influences and this doesn’t help with the familiarity of much of what transpires keeping the film from feeling fresh.
The real heart of the movie is the little-known Dixon. Given a decent meal as an actor, she takes the challenge on. Lisa is a mix of fragility, vulnerability and strength and grit. Dixon inhabits her fully, making her quiet, sorrowful moments feel real but also convincing you that she has the ability and hardness required to do the job she did, and kick ass when determined to get her baby back. It’s an obvious hook to call this Taken with a female lead, but Dixon makes it more than that, even despite a pointless and silly ‘maybe she’s a mad woman’ plot-line. Overall it’s a fine, well-made but inessential thriller, though one with a commendable central performance, worth catching for that.
NEVER LET GO / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: HOWARD J. FORD / STARRING: ANGELA DIXON, NIGEL WHITMEY, LISA EICHHORN, VALIBOR TOPIC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW