Filmakers’ follies prevent northern actress to shine

Yesterday I watched a recently added 90 minute Netflix action-adventure movie, “How It Ends”, especially to meet Grace Dove, a young Prince George Indigenous actress raised near 100 Mile House.

Dove was Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in “The Revenant”, a movie of the type I don’t watch. Nevertheless, I hoped for a performance that might herald another Canadian actor of a calibre equal to Ellen Page from Nova Scotia.

Alas, this movie failed both of us. Bigly.

This road trip begins in Chicago where father (Forest Whitaker) despises his son-in-law visiting from Seattle. Seconds into the story Whitaker’s daughter at home in Seattle phones to check on their tense visit. Her phone call is disrupted by an ominous sound as of a rock avalanche. Instantly all communications throughout the U.S. are severed. Airports cancel flights. Police and military personnel block highways to all traffic.

Ex-Marine father and lawyer-husband tank up with gas and drive madly off for Seattle in a Cadillac built like an Army tank judging by its ability to withstand the collisions it sustains on the ensuing five-day trip despite fewer than half a dozen other vehicles moving on the entire length of interstate highways from coast to coast.

According to the movie review in the Prince George “Citizen”, most of the filming was done in all-night marathons under intense lights, in complex vehicle rigs. This explains why visibility is restricted providing little clarity to the scenes. Poor lighting teams with a plot that arcs like a bridge – The men’s urgency in reaching Seattle to check on the daughter-wife’s wellbeing, and little emotional connection or confrontation during the trip.

During the journey they encounter every conceivable cataclysm except a grizzly bear attack. Do moviemakers begin by choosing from a lengthy list of possible adversities, choose as many as they need to fill the screen time, then pad any gaps with the f-word? It would seem so.Maybe they also have an allotment of f-words to shoehorn in somewhere. As if to use up extra f-words, at one point the son-in-law sits pounding the steering wheel while voicing a string of f-words that serve no purpose other than to show this lawyer’s frustration. How does he cope in court?

Scrounging for gasoline takes up a lot of screen time. Because the whole U.S. is closed by the calamity, they constantly seek gasoline from every vehicular wreck or smoking pileup they come to. Dove, a reservation mechanic, is talked into going along in case of mechanical breakdown. Once she is no longer needed, she disappears.

If anyone enjoys a movie with a surplus of car smashes, explosions, mumbling dialogue, poor lighting, and an emotionless storyline, this is your kind of entertainment. It’s not mine. I wished I had read a book instead. Any book.

Humour is non-existent in dialogue or action. We’re never offered a reason to bond with any character, even Dove, who the “Citizen” describes as “all business, no romance. Ricki came into conflict. Ricki was tough.” Ricki dished out f-words as liberally as a roadside hash slinger, I’ll give her that.

The movie petered out as though the screen writer ran out of plot twists, the director became bored with the project, and the financial backers had blown their budget.

Will this movie boost Dove’s acting career? Climbing into the car she says, “As usual, Tonto is sitting in the back seat.”

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