A South African man comes to Los Angeles looking for
his sister, alerting dangerous parties to his presence.
Message from the King (2016)
Directed by Fabrice du Welz
Written by Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Teresa Palmer, Luke Evans,
Alfred Molina, Arthur Darbinyan, Natalie Martinez
Message from the King doesn't bring anything new to the table, but it's intriguing enough to remain interesting throughout. It's got a basic thriller template I've seen a hundred times. Long lost brother comes looking for long lost sister, who got in bed with the wrong people and disappeared. Now, the brother wants to find his sister, but soon all he wants is revenge. Meanwhile, the perps are all after something the sister stashed away before they got her. This all sounding familiar? This film's biggest problem is how much it rips off every other film in the same genre, and apart from Boseman's dedicated performance, there's not much else to talk about.
Jacob King (Boseman) is in L.A. to find his sister Bianca. When he learns she's been murdered, he tries to hunt down the murderers using a bag of items Bianca left behind. Along the way, he befriends a prostitute named Kelly (Palmer) and matches wits with a shady dentist (Evans) who leads him to a pedophile producer (Molina). The rabbit hole just keeps getting wider, and while there are brief spritzes of action, this is in no way an action flick as advertised. Also, a prominent politician who was partially responsible for Bianca's death never gets his comeuppance. I hate loose ends, especially when they're so easily tied up.
This film doesn't have enough bite to be what it so wants to be. A pulpy revenge thriller with some heart. But it's a patchwork made entirely of bits from other movies. The performances are fine, and Boseman was always a solid actor, but Message from the King doesn't give any of its other characters any substance, and the ending is too tidy for a film like this.