Liam Neeson and Bob Odenkirk have shown the world in recent years that their age and lack of abs are no obstacle to playing heroic roles in action movies. The older generation deserves a chance to shine and Allison Janney’s acting skills will be on full display in Lou.
She plays the lead role of a retired woman who, for unknown reasons, has taken up residence in a forest cabin on a remote island. From the beginning of the film, it is obvious that she has no desire to continue living.
She empties her bank account, sends a note to her neighbor Hannah (Jurnee Smollett) and sits down with a shotgun to her chin. Hannah is clearly planning to end her own life, but rushes to Lou’s house for help before she can pull the trigger.
Hannah has asked Lou to use her tracking skills to find her abusive ex-husband Philip (Logan Marshall-Green), who has taken Hannah’s daughter Vee (Ridley Asha Bateman). Lou agrees, and it’s not just because he now has a reason to live; she has other, more mysterious motivations for helping Hannah, which are revealed later.
Lou, accompanied by her dog Jax, and Hannah venture into the woods to search for Philip and Vee, a mission made even more challenging by the approaching storm. The first half of the film is very exciting as the main characters struggle to stay alive while fending off the elements.
Anna Foerster, who directs, does a great job with these tense moments, showing that she can direct a disaster movie in the vein of Twister or Hard Rain. After nearly drowning in the rising waters, Lou and Hannah reach a cabin inhabited by two boys who work for Philip.
Lou approaches the cottage while Hannah waits in the back, acting like an old, disoriented woman. The men are wary of her at first, but as soon as they let their guard down, Lou attacks with a pot of boiling soup and the sharp end of a tin can. While it’s satisfying to see Gianni get the better of these big boys, the fun ends there.
— best of jurnee smollett (@bestofjurnee) September 20, 2022
After the violent confrontation in the cabin, the rest of the film is relatively quiet. Instead, we get a slow act that explains Lou’s mysterious history and how it relates to Phillip and Hannah. Because of this, what should be an action-packed thrill ride turns into a complex domestic drama.
The unexpected (and intrusive) plot twists that occur before the climax weaken the effectiveness of the final fight sequence. The twists aren’t necessarily bad in the film, but the ones in Lou feel a bit over the top. It would have been easier to get invested in the plot of the film if the script had been stronger and Lou’s story had been developed.
However, the plot becomes somewhat confusing because we are only given the most important part of her personality and her relationship with Hannah and Philip. The situation never improves, and while Gianni is entertaining as the bitter pensioner who is as skilled at pranking as he is at punching, the rest of the film suffers for it.
Therefore, Lou represents a missed opportunity. All the actors gave solid performances, but the script let them down. It would have been a lot more fun if this movie had simply followed a retired woman on a mission to rescue a kidnapped daughter, with the woman beating bad guys’ ass as she went.
It’s a shame Janney wasn’t given more opportunities to develop her skills as an older action hero because she has what it takes to sell the role. Maybe a sequel will fix this movie’s problems. The film’s climax hints at a sequel, and if this project ever gets the green light, I hope the writers deliver the Taken woman that Lou promised she would be.
Even better, it could also cast Judi Dench as the evil villain and culminate in a brutal fight between her and Lou. It would have been a great movie and much more exciting than what we get instead (which is disappointing for Gianni and the audience).