READY OR NOT (2019)
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Whether it be 1932’s The Most Dangerous Game or John Woo’s 1993 Hard Target, the concept of rich people hunting common folks for sport, or otherwise, is nothing new. Ready or Not finds pretty Grace (Samara Weaving) about to marry into the wealthy but eccentric Le Domas family, who have grown rich on games and pro sports. After taking her vows with their son Alex (Mark O’Brien), it’s revealed she must follow tradition and play a game with the family at midnight. The game, chosen from a mysterious box, is hide and seek. What Grace also soon finds out is that she must hide as the family hunts her and that she must be captured and sacrificed before dawn to appease the mysterious Mr. Le Bail, who is responsible for the family’s success. If they don’t, they will all die. Now Grace is in a fight for her very life as she is alone and pursued through the labyrinth-like mansion.
The film is directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who helmed the fun found footage flick Devil’s Due. Ready or Not tries to have a good time with it’s premise, but also seems a bit moderately paced for a chase/hunt flick. The action stops frequently for a movie that needs a sense of urgency and what action there is could have been punchier, as could a few of it’s big moments. It felt like they were holding back from really cutting loose with the mayhem. The script is from Guy Busick and R. Christopher Murphy who take a familiar story and add some social commentary and a twisted sense of humor, but not really much new. A good deal of that twisted humor falls flat and while the directors try to give it a little spark, the familiarity of the story handcuffs it from being really suspenseful. We know what’s coming and where it’s going. That and the trailers basically featured all the best bits, so it left very little to surprise or amuse…which is not the filmmakers fault, but the marketing. There is some entertaining action and a few tense bits and the film can be amusingly gruesome at times. A few of the jokes do wear out their welcome, such as the constant killing of the help by incompetent family members. A way too convenient character turn gets Grace out of her biggest trouble only to have another character turn put her back in it a few scenes later. Both seems like plot contrivances aside from simply being repetitive. The first is an obvious plot device to get Grace out of a fix when the writers wrote themselves into a corner and the second character turn simply doesn’t make sense happening at such a late point. Occurring at such a late juncture also doesn’t give it any time to resonate and thus it appears to be just there to give the flick one more “WTF?” moment before the climactic ending.
Weaving gives it her all and makes for a solid heroine for us to root for. Grace’s got fire and resilience and becomes a survivor pretty quick. She makes this a lot more worth watching. O’Brien is fairly generic as her conflicted new husband, Alex, while Adam Brody is amusing as his bitter and also conflicted, alcoholic brother, Daniel. Andie MacDowell gives her performance some malice as the one who really wears the pants in the family, Becky with Henry Czerny being fun as her husband, the easily panicked family patriarch Tony. The cast, main and supporting, get the satirical nature of the script and that helps give this some fun.
In conclusion, Ready or Not has it’s moments, but overall is nothing new and could have used a bit more spark and energy. There are some fun bits and it is quite giddy with the bloodshed, but also wasn’t as quite action packed as one expects and some of the big moments lacked the impact they needed. The social satire and twisted humor fall flat more often than they should have and only a plucky Samara Weaving makes it as watchable as it is. Amusing, but not the real blast one hoped for.
Rated 2 and 1/2 (out of 4) arrow heads.
Be warned! Trailer gives away some of the best moments…