Don't Let Go (2020)

Genres - Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Natural Horror  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by AllMovie

A man loses his family in a double murder suicide. Haunted by his loss, he wishes that he could undo all of it. In Don't Let Go, Detective Jack Radcliff (David Oyelowo) gets that chance.

Jack enjoys a tightly-knit bond with his niece Ashley (Storm Reid). During hard times, the young girl turns to her uncle as opposed to her parents. It's Uncle Jack that she finds solace and safety in. When Jack finds the entire family brutally murdered, the tragedy cuts him down and he finds himself a shell of a man. Being that the victims were his relatives he's not only barred from investigating, but also becomes entangled in an Internal Affairs investigation into his involvement with the murders. To complicate matters, a strange thing happens to him. His cellphone rings, and Ashley's image appears on the screen. With confusion furrowing his brow and pain creasing his face, he wonders how it's possible that his dead niece is calling him. When he picks up the call, he's bewildered that it's the voice of his deceased niece. When he talks to her, he establishes that she's in the past, days before the murder. With the stakes set and the clock ticking, viewers follow Jack in his pursuit for answers both about the murders and how he can use this supernatural connection with Ashley to prevent her death.

Connecting with the deceased to save a loved one's life is a thought-provoking premise. Written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes, Don't Let Go shares a similar premise with Frequency (starring Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid). It also echoes Christopher Nolan's Memento, where both films are driven by the mystery of piecing together a fractured narrative. Estes manages to transport the concept into the fray of a corrupt Los Angeles police department. In particular, it's enjoyable to see how Jack uses a detective's inferential skills to figure out the dynamics of how to save Ashley from being killed. The problem is that there's not much of a question over whether or not Jack is insane. This lack of tension exacerbates a particular problem: the movie spends too long showing the audience how Jack figures out the logic of the temporal anomaly.

Aside from the plot, Estes does attempt to give his film some shape. Scoring the movie with a synth organ to evoke a hymnal tone, there are a few moments that are elevated. It's a shame though that the visual style of the film isn't as remarkable. Equally plain is the overall performance of the two lead actors. While Oyelowo's acting is solid, he overshadows Reid. The result is that audiences don't quite feel the dramatic impact that's needed to convince audiences of Oyelowo's performance.

Fans of murder conspiracies driven by corrupt policemen may find the time-bending premise an interesting twist. But, Don't Let Go doesn't take full advantage of the unique premise, and there's much room for improvement.