Directed: Howard J. Ford
Cast: Angela Dixon, Nigel Whitmey, Lisa Eichhorn, Velibor Topic, Heather Peace.
Released: August 2015
Reviewed By: Stu Greenfield
The topic of strong and inspirational female lead characters has been much talked about in the media this year. There has been much speculation related to the role of women in films and their unsavoury treatment in Hollywood. The next film in our FrightFest series, Howard J. Ford’s latest release Never Let Go, offers one of the strongest and most positive female characters of the cinematic year.
Never Let Go focuses on single mom Lisa Brennan (Angela Dixon) who has a young baby by a married man. And not just any married man, as audiences will disover. Whilst Lisa de-stresses with a holiday in Morocco her baby is abducted whilst she is distracted on a beach. Lisa, a former FBI Agent employs her skill set to try and track down and rescue her baby, like a female version of Liam Neeson in Taken. Whilst chasing down the kidnappers she becomes implicated in a murder of an ‘innocent’ man and as she continues her mission more complications and twists become apparent as to why her baby was taken, with one final unexpected twist at the end.
Lisa Brennan’s character is tenacious in her approach to saving her baby. She is strong and determined and needs little to no help to get what she wants. She is able to hold her own with anyone that stands in her way, male or female, and her success is purely down to her and a female office agent Jeanette Burrows (Heather Peace who may be recognised from the UK series London’s Burning). Angela Dixon plays Lisa with a ferocity and intensity that is admirable. The love that is displayed for her baby which spurs her passion is depicted with gusto by Dixon and her performance taps into the strength of the character, both physically and emotionally. The character of Brennan is a strong advertisement for female action leads. The personification is reminiscent of the recent Charlize Theron character in Mad Max Fury Road or the classic portrayal by Sigourney Weaver in Alien.
Ford uses the environment well within this film, utilising the narrow maze of streets in Marrakech to enhance the tension and mirror Brennan’s own manic emotionality. Establishing shots that panorama the city are used well to identify the rabbit warren of streets and the seemingly impossible task ahead of Brennan, highlighting exactly what it is she has to overcome. Marrakech is used as a visual representation of her apparent helplessness, but also as an indicator of just what she can achieve.
Certain scenes within the film are reminiscent of low budget martial arts films with the fast paced moves coupled with short quick shots. This does detract from the seriousness of Lisa’s character the gravity of the situation she finds herself in, almost belittling her fighting skill set. The scene where Lisa fights off a group of Moroccan policemen almost felt out of place in terms of how it was shot and the feel of the rest of the film, however this technique is only used once.
At times the blood and violence could almost be interpreted as a shout out to Ford’s previous zombie films The Dead and The Dead 2 however for the main part Never Let Go is about building tension and and fear through the action and thriller ‘chase’ aspect. This is achieved within the film through the excellent cinematography and aided by the environments claustrophobic atmosphere. The score, although a little typical, helps to build that tension.
Never Let Go does not have the strongest script, and nor does it have the most developed screenplay, however the strength of the main character and the performance by Angela Dixon pulls it through. Excellent cinematography that utilises the available landscape and environment brilliantly, Never Let Go is fast paced and exciting with a twist that will surprise many. This film stands to make waves in terms of how women are portrayed within this genre.