Netflix Recommendation: “Message From the King”



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Posted August 11, 2017 by

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Director Fabrice du Welz has been on my list of intriguing filmmakers, since back in 2005 when I saw his disturbing, backwoods thriller “Calvaire”. I always respect any director who doesn’t pull any punches, when it comes to what they are willing to put onscreen and Du Welz is certainly that. After seeing his 2014 atmospheric, horror film “Alleluia”, I was sold on both his visual style and his storytelling and I knew that this was a filmmaker, who’s films I had to watch for. Du Welz’s new film, “Message From the King” follows a more familiar formula than his past work, living in the well-worn “Revenge/thriller” genre, but has powerful enough visuals and strong enough performances that I am giving it our “Netflix recommendation” seal of approval.

Jacob King (Chadwick Boseman) leaves his home in South Africa, bound for Los Angeles, in search of his missing sister Bianca (Sibongile Mlambo). With nothing but $600, the clothes on his back, and an ominous message from Bianca, he arrives in L.A. and quickly realizes that he has a dangerous journey ahead of him. It seams that his sister was running with some pretty awful people, and that those people are looking for something that Bianca has in her possession. Jacob soon learns that his sister has been murdered and goes on the hunt for anyone and everyone who was involved. The lineup of villainous thugs includes a fast-talking, drug-dealing dentist (Luke Evans), a pedophile Hollywood producer (Alfred Molina), and a high-powered politician (Chris Mulkey) and Jacob isn’t stopping until everyone of the them has payed for what happened to his sister.

The second act plays out a lot like a game of Grand Theft Auto. Jacob combs through L.A., looking for clues, and putting the hurt on anyone in his way. Teresa Palmer shows up, in the cliche role of a hooker with a heart of gold, but has the talent to really make it work. Boseman is excellent as the badass hero, and owns every second of his time on screen. It is these and a handful of other performances, that really breathe suspense into Fabrice du Welz‘s neo-noir thriller. The fact that cinematographer Monika Lenczewska frames the story in a convincingly dark and grimy Los Angeles, adds the perfect visual tone to the director’s creation.

The script gets a little bogged down, in the final act, due to a bit too much exposition and the fact that it can’t decide whether Kelly (Palmer) is a love interest or just a kindhearted ally. The finale is satisfying though, and the rest of the film is so solid that it more than makes up for what little dragging there is. “Message From the King” is both an excellent lead in to Boseman’s starring role in Marvel’s upcoming “Black Panther” and another fine addition to Du Welz’s directorial resume.




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