NEVER LET GO

4.5 out of 10

Release Date: 7th October 2016 (DVD Premiere)

Director: The Ford Brothers (Offensive / The Dead 2 – India The Dead – Africa)

Cast: Angela Dixon, Nigel Whitmey, Velibor Topic, Heather Peace, Rami Nasr, Sarah Perles, Samantha Bolter, Michael Xavier, Sanita Sims with Glenn Salvage and Lisa Eichorn

Writer: The Ford Brothers

Trailer: NEVER LET GO

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After delivering two very competent international zombie movies (The Dead 1 & 2) on a shoe-string budget, the Ford Brothers venture to North Africa to do a female remake of Taken (or anyother number of straight-to-video clunkers of the 2000s).

Never Let Go stars Angela Dixon (OFFENSIVE) (unknown to me) as an American special-forces operative to takes her baby on holiday to Morocco. The father of the child is a married US Senator and is a very busy man (possibly evil). Anyway, the baby is kidnapped by some East Europeans; Velibor Topic (THE SMOKE) and Joe Pesci II’s fave, Glenn Salvage (THE SILENCER) – yes, The Silencer himself! Ms Dixon will stop at nothing to recover her kid. Police, holidaymakers, men with stubble beware – she’ll bellow, “My DAUGHTER, WHERE IS SHE!” in their face. She pistol whips pigeons, dogs, people, children, everybody who stands in her way. The film is relentless, predictable and fast paced. Where Never Let Go succeeds is its committment to being a good ‘meat and two veg’ bog standard action film. Compare this to Neil Jones‘ dog shit Age of Kill and immediately the contrasts are obvious. The Ford Brothers don’t execute their action scenes with a heavy heart or with ill-preperation. At times this feels like a top-notch actioner we may have seen Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock starring in 15 years ago. Times have changed though and it’s all old hat, as good as the finished product may be. It’s too late in the day for a film like this to offer anything new. The Fords came up with some ingenius twists to the well-trodden, sad zombie genre, so I was hoping for something fresh here. Sadly, it’s a half-baked script and a repetitve story on offer. Shame really because I was looking forward to a third outing in The Dead series. Instead, we got this. Something no one was looking for, except for Joe Pesci II who got to see Glenn Salvage do his thing for the first time in years.

4.5 out of 10 – Not bad, but it’s nothing new. Tried and tested ground but it does have some great action sequences.

Review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher (Never Stop Tugging) below

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “NEVER LET GO

  1. Review by Matt Usher

    I have been deceived. Although I’m giving NEVER LET GO a surprising and surprised good review, we’re resolutely not in masterpiece territory here. This isn’t Bergman, nor is it (and these are nearer the mark) Joel Silver or James Cameron. It is a rubbishy B-movie whose very existence is utterly surplus to all requirements of everybody ever. But, well, it could have been so, so much worse.

    The film opens with a couple in a house, their son asleep upstairs. The couple are poshly sipping wine in the way that no-one ever does and they seem to be very very happy in the way that only happy people are in films where they’re about to become very unhappy. Sure enough, their son is soon abducted and the anguish and gut-wrenching horror of the event is symbolised by the dad pacing about outside the porch in a series of cross-fades. It’s as bad a start to a film as you could hope for. Just as the masochistic schadenfreude addicts amongst the audience (i.e. me) are settling down to 90 minutes of inept film-making, it all slowly goes ever so slightly right. For a start we move away from the unhappy family (they do turn up later and we find the dad’s anguish is complete: he now sports a beard, that popular movie symbol of despair) and instead follow an FBI agent who has gone on holiday to an unnamed Arabic nation (the blurb says Morocco). She has a baby in tow, and I can’t remember why she’s gone there. Her holiday gets off to a bad start when the baby is snatched by sinister foreigners, and it gets worse as she proceeds to lay waste to various areas of the city in her bid to rescue her offspring. Fortunately, being an FBI agent, she has lots of skills and contacts, including a senior politician who is the father of her child (though he’s busy unhelpfully running for president and has a pregnant trophy wife to look after). You’ve probably just guessed the identity of the film’s ultimate villain, but for practical baby-snatching and vengeance-wreaking purposes, the baddies are burly bald eastern European thugs.

    But before working all that out, our hero endures a series of chases (which look quite exhausting) and a succession of confrontations with seemingly dodgy foreign policemen and other officials. There are all sorts of scrapes and moderately interesting set pieces as she gradually uncovers the clues to the sprog’s whereabouts, and the extent of the conspiracy surrounding the kidnapping.

    Again, I emphasise: this is a deeply average film. But note that: average. Not good, but certainly not abysmal, or even bad. Indeed, given my low expectations this might even be described as quite good. And I happily contend (even to fans of THE SILENCER) that this is Glenn Salvage’s best film (even though he merely marks time here as a burly bald foreigner). Angela Dixon is perfectly adequate in a not particularly fleshed-out central role (basic characteristics: determined, resourceful), and the less said about the rest of the cast (most of whom are there to either die or look bemused) the better. And yes, it may be utterly predictable, and relentlessly frenetic (the editor must have put in some serious overtime to produce something this furiously cut together), but it carries you along on its own slightly batty momentum (it’s like a kid opening Christmas presents screaming ‘look at this’). And it earns a couple of cheers because it’s nowhere near as racist as I was expecting, given the set-up (it’s still not amongst the most enlightened or thoughtful films exploring west/east relations, but at least it realises that non-Americans are individuals with their own agendas which makes a bit of a change). Nevertheless, our fearless heroine knows that the life of her offspring (son/daughter – I can’t remember and it’s not all that important) is worth the lives of all the Arabs in Morocco, but the film does acknowledge this problem – there are times when it’s as if the film-makers turn to the audience, shrugging, as if to say ‘well that’s what American secret agents with small children are like, what can you do?’

    There’s another (admittedly niche) reason for liking NEVER LET GO. Usually in this sort of film where the hero has gone off the grid under the radar and has managed to inconvenience and bamboozle the bad guys, the good guys, the authorities, the underworld, the media and every passer-by, the film still resolutely identifies with them as if they’re the sensible one acting rationally. Not here. She makes bad decisions and the film somehow seems to be saying ‘she’s crazy’. When people start questioning her sanity (or indeed asking her if she actually had a child with her in the first place) it comes across not as baddies / crap goodies covering themselves but as a perfectly legitimate question (and you do briefly think – did we see the child?). Unfortunately the film doesn’t go down the route of the unreliable / hopeless hero, but it makes a nice change to at least hint at it.

    There are, I’m sure, many other films like this. It’s a basic Yank Goes Abroad and Doles Out Justice American-Style yarn (with a few quirks chucked in). Whole careers have been based on that tagline. There will be numerous better, slicker versions starring everyone from Bruce Willis to Sally Field. This is a modern day equivalent of the 80s straight-to-video version of that genre. It has few merits other than relentless pace, drunk editing and moderate violence, but that’s all it’s aiming for, and it delivers. It’s not an interesting film about parenthood, child-trafficking, America’s relationship with the world (though should you wish to fashion an academic study about any of those issues I’m sure you could find some evidence here) and I’m sure there are better examples of this genre lurking unloved all over Youtube. But on its own extremely limited terms it’s a perfectly agreeable time-waster.

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