‘Sweet Girl’ Review: Violence as an Insurance Policy

Grieving husbands, fathers and even dog owners are a cornerstone of the revenge thriller, a genre that uses violence to reflect the anxieties of their audiences. At their best, revenge thrillers deliver the catharsis of the wronged hero triumphing over society’s ills — corrupt political systems, terrorist groups and human traffickers. The innovation in the otherwise nondescript action film “Sweet Girl” is that here, the shadowy organization employing contract killers and evading justice is a health care company.

Ray (Jason Momoa) is a father lost in grief for his beloved wife, who died of cancer. He is haunted by the idea that her death was preventable, if only Bioprime, a powerful medical research company, hadn’t blocked a generic version of a patented cancer medication from reaching the market. Ray is contacted by a journalist looking to write an exposé on the company, but the reporter is murdered during their conversation. Ray and his teenage daughter Rachel (Isabela Merced) are witnesses.

Years pass, yet Ray’s obsession with the Bioprime conspiracy never subsides. He seeks out insurance executives, but his attempts to get answers result in fatal encounters with private security. Ray’s investigation becomes a rampage, and through it all, Rachel remains by his side.

For this action film, the director Brian Andrew Mendoza favors a utilitarian style. His color palette leans toward grays, blues and browns. His fight scenes are not flashy, or even particularly memorable, but they are clear, effectively conveying the necessary information about whose fist has connected with whose face. The simplicity of the visuals means there is little to distract from how characters have been cast in the movie’s morality play — a family faces down the organized crime syndicate of modern medicine.

Sweet Girl
Rated R for strong violence and language. Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes. Watch on Netflix.

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