A silly thriller that should have been called ‘Middle of The Road.’
Family road trips are often quite stressful, largely because of prolonged games of I Spy, kids in the back seat shouting “I’m bored,” and the tensions that arise when one person forgets to pack the sandwiches.
If you have taken a road trip with your family, you may be relating to what I’m saying. But hopefully, you have never taken a road trip as stressful as the one seen in End Of The Road, the latest thriller to land on Netflix’s streaming service.
Queen Latifah stars as Brenda, a woman who takes her two kids and her brother Reggie (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) on a cross-country road trip when she decides to relocate after the tragic death of her husband. Unfortunately, she has more to worry about than prolonged games of I-Spy and missing sandwiches as she and her family get into all kinds of trouble on the way to their destination.
Her problems start when her daughter gives the finger to two racist rednecks. These thugs confront Brenda when she and her family get further down the road and she is forced to humiliate herself in front of them. Bigger problems arise during their stay in a motel when they hear noises coming from next door. After hearing a gunshot, Brenda and Reggie investigate and find a dying man slumped against the wall. While Brenda tries to save him, Reggie foolishly decides to take a bag of cash that he finds in the bathroom.
This money supposedly belongs to a crime boss going by the name of Mr. Cross and when he discovers the money has gone, the lives of Brenda and her family are put in danger when the criminal comes looking for the missing loot. From there, the chase is on as the movie goes from one hair-raising scene to the next before the identity of Mr. Cross is revealed.
The plotline of the movie is quite intriguing and there is the potential for an exciting cat and mouse tale. Sadly, the movie fails to deliver on its premise. The cast is good and they all turn in good performances but the screenplay lets them down in some key areas. When the story focuses on the family’s dynamic, it is competent enough. The dialogue is realistic and the family are written as relatable characters so it’s easy to warm to them.
Issues arise when the movie turns into a crime thriller. This is largely because of the various plot holes that become apparent as the story unfolds. Mr. Crosses’ motivations are hazy at best and if you’re looking for adequate plot explanations, you are going to be disappointed here. You might also roll your eyes when you discover who Cross is as his identity isn’t too surprising.
Still, despite the flaws in the script, the movie isn’t all bad. If you can forgive the illogical and often silly plotting, you might enjoy the sight of Brenda and her family facing up to Mr. Cross and his mysterious accomplice during the movie’s final stand-off. This is a fun sequence even though it’s incredibly daft and there is one crowd-pleasing moment that might make you give a cheer. That’s assuming you haven’t turned the movie off by this point, of course, because if you do care for logic and a well-written narrative, you may have given up long before the movie’s climactic action scene.
Ultimately, this falls into the category of ‘could have been better, could have been worse.’ The acting, direction, and cinematography are all competent enough so this is hardly what you would call a disaster. But as the contrived script stretches credibility, especially during the movie’s final half, this has to rank as a disappointment.
As such, a better title for this movie could have been ‘middle of the road’ as that’s exactly what it is when compared to other movies in the ‘family in peril’ genre. There are some fun moments to be had both within and outside of the family dynamic, and the scene between Brenda and the racists is actually quite heartbreaking. But with barely any thought put into the plot points revolving around the stolen money, this is a movie that can in no way be considered satisfying.
Read More: End of the Road Ending Explained
Verdict - 5.5/10