Detective Jack Radcliff (David Oyelowo) is close to his niece, Ashley (Storm Reid), making up for the dismal parenting job by her father and Jack’s brother, Garret (Brian Tyree Henry). When Ashley is brutally murdered, along with her parents, Uncle Jack is devastated. He sets out to find the killer, receiving help from an unlikely source – Ashley. At first Jack believes he’s hallucinating, his grief clouding his mind and judgment. But when Ashley’s telephone calls continue, her face popping up on his cellphone, he begins to think that perhaps Ashley is talking to him beyond the grave.
He knows the calls aren’t coming from Ashley’s smashed up cellphone, which he retrieves from the police department’s evidence room. He also begins to understand. She’s calling him from the past, and if he can explain the situation without scaring her, perhaps he can save her life. Leaving the cemetery after her burial, Jack had asked God for a second chance. Perhaps his prayer has been answered.
Time travel plots are popular because we all fantasize about going back to correct a mistake or jumping forward to learn the future. That said, when timelines shift and we are never sure that what we are seeing has happened or is about to happen, these plots also can be confusing, That occurs along the way in Don’t Let Go, but writer/director Jacob Aaron Estes keeps the action fast paced and the tension at a feverish pitch so that everything soon falls into place. (You can continue to debate the inconsistencies over dinner.)
Jack is very much on his own, aware that his partner Roger (Byron Mann) and supervisor, Bobby (Mykelti Williamson), may already believe he’s having a breakdown. If he tells them he’s receiving calls from Ashley they would probably force him to take a leave. He’s not about to risk that with so much at stake.
Since Garret was once arrested for dealing drugs, Jack concludes that his brother returned to his old ways, perhaps stealing from a source, thereby inviting the hit. A box filled with cocaine is found under Garret’s bed adding to Jack’s theory. Tracking down the source of the drugs puts Jack (in present time) and Ashley (past time) in danger. Jack finally has to tell Ashley the truth about their situation, while sitting in their favorite booth at a diner. Even though Ashley can’t see Jack, he uses a simple trick to prove to her that they exist in parallel universes and that if she saves herself, she also saves him. In other words, “don’t let go.”
Oyelowo is always a strong screen presence and his performance doesn’t disappoint. Not only is he believable in the action scenes, but the moments he spends with his niece are the ones that draw us into his character. Reid, who has more TV credits on her resume than film ones, is ready for the big screen.
Top photo: David Oyelowo and Storm Reid
An OTL Releasing/Blumhouse Tilt release.
Credit: Lacey Terrell / Universal Pictures