Written by Rachel Freeman
Message from the King Plot Summary:
Jacob King (Chadwick Boseman) travels to Los Angeles to look for his missing sister, Bianca (Sibongile Mlambo). His first day there, Jacob discovers his sister was brutally murdered and that she was involved with the wrong kind of people. He now has six days to find the people who were responsible for her death and avenge her.
First, I gotta say, I’ve never seen someone wreck so many people with just a bike chain. This is a very face-punchy movie. That’s the best way I can describe it. Jacob beats the shit out of a lot of people, and it mostly involves their faces (one face belongs to Tom Felton, AKA Draco Malfoy). The movie is classified as a thriller, but I wouldn’t exactly call it that. There is suspense, sure, but not much anxiety. I mean, Jacob is the central character of the film and he isn’t going to die in the first 20 minutes.
Despite the lack of anxiety, Message from the King has some pretty intense fights. Honestly, the fights aren’t comparable to what you would see in a standard action movie; they feel a bit more realistic. No one is doing crazy ninja moves out of nowhere, and the scene doesn’t go on for a half hour. It’s closer to what you would picture a bunch of thugs versus one person being like. Initially, you find yourself wondering why Jacob, the taxi driver, knows how to street fight, but the movie takes a minute to explain that he and his siblings (yes, plural) were raised in Cape Town, South Africa, a region known for its high crime/murder rate.
The movie gives us the information we need as we need it. As in, it doesn’t just shove a bunch of facts at us all at once that we are expected to remember for the remainder of the movie. We find out information as Jacob figures it out and learn more about Jacob and Bianca through dialogue. There is also a really nice and subtle plot twist at the end that gives us a final bit of understanding as the movie comes to an end. The film also moves at a steady pace. After all, Jacob only has six days to find and kill the people who killed his sister, so he doesn’t have time for unimportant bullshit. I mean, he befriends Kelly (Teresa Palmer), but it’s not intentional. It just sort of works out that way.
Speaking of Kelly, she kills it. A single mom living in this shitty area of LA, doing her best to provide for her daughter. Yeah, there’s some potential attraction between her and Jacob, but it’s not like she’s instantly in love and having a man around just makes her life all better. No, she doesn’t need a man to fulfill her. She helps him out because she’s a good person, and when you see someone lying bloody in the street, you help them. Does Jacob help her too? Sure. But again, not because they’re suddenly in love, but because she’s a good person and he owes her for basically saving his life.
The place where the movie loses me is in exactly what the plot is all about: Bianca. No, she doesn’t need to be a perfect angel. But by the end of the movie, once Jacob knows everything about her, I really didn’t like her. If she were alive for the movie, I think I would have hated her. Some of the stuff we find out she did knowingly and was knowingly involved in of her own volition, is just terrible. And sure, her husband can be blamed for SOME of it, but she chose to do the things she did. I guess it’s the whole “not everyone is perfect” thing, but did she really need to be THAT terrible?
I also could’ve gone without the Armand (Diego Josef) stuff. It doesn’t really add much to the story, except make Bianca a worse person. He doesn’t do anything useful or interesting and we don’t really get any closure with him. There are a number of ways they could have executed his plot point better, by not having his character at all or at least making him more interesting. Hell, he only has like two lines!
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. I definitely wasn’t bored at any point, and while the “revenge for a family member’s death” thing has been done time and time again, director Fabrice du Welz still brings some new dynamics to keep it new and unique. Plus, the actors do a fantastic job. I mean, I didn’t doubt Chadwick Boseman in the least. He’s the reason I wanted to watch this movie to begin with. But the support from everyone else’s characters is just icing on the cake and holds everything together perfectly.
If you like action and violence, then this movie is right up your ally. It has a solid plot and great characters, and despite my complaints, it’s an enjoyable movie worth seeing.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
MESSAGE FROM THE KING IS STREAMING ON NETFLIX