Sweet Girl

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Isabela Merced and Jason Momoa in Sweet Girl.
Isabela Merced and Jason Momoa in Sweet Girl.
Photo: Clay Enos/Netflix

MOVIE:

Sweet Girl

WHERE TO WATCH:

Netflix

OUR RATING:

3/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

Devoted family man Ray Cooper, vows justice against the pharmaceutical company responsible for pulling a potentially life-saving drug from the market just before his wife dies from cancer. But when his search for the truth leads to a deadly encounter that puts Ray and his daughter Rachel in harm's way, Ray's mission turns into a quest for vengeance in order to protect the only family he has left.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

You've got to hand it to Netflix; they've gotten pretty good at banging out action films over the past few years with an A-lister to bring it home. From Extraction to superhero film The Old Guard, they all make for entertaining viewing. But Sweet Girl is different. Jason Momoa called it "the hardest thing I've had to do to date".

Sweet Girl follows Ray Cooper (Jason Momoa) and his daughter, Rachel (Isabela Merced). Ray's just lost his wife, and Rachel, her mom (Adria Arjona) to cancer, after a pharmaceutical company pulls a potentially life-saving drug from the market. Ray embarks on a quest for revenge, which means making enemies of some pretty powerful people, all the while taking his teenage daughter along with him.

Sweet Girl is every bit as action-packed as it sounds. There's a plunge off a building into deep waters, an entire choreographed fight sequence on a train, and explosives, of course – it is an action thriller after all. But you can tell it was a passion project too for Momoa, who got to work closely as a producer with long-time friend Brian Mendoza and stunt team 87eleven; in case you needed any convincing, Momoa can throw a punch.

What may have been less comfortable for the actor though, and surprising for viewers, are his more dramatic scenes in the film. "I'm playing an everyday man without any superpowers — just a guy trying to keep his family together — and it's emotional," he's said of Ray Cooper. He makes what's undoubtedly a very different kind of role work for him. Right at the beginning of the film, he breaks down in the halls of the hospital in a scene that shakes you; so you understand when Ray's ready to take revenge. And Momoa makes the transition seem painless even though this was a weighty role for the actor, a husband and father himself.

Isabela Merced is a force. I watched her in Instant Family, then as Dora (the Explorer) in Dora and the Lost City of Gold, and now as Rachel in Sweet Girl; in all her films, and Sweet Girl, in particular, she too can switch seamlessly from a young girl losing her mom to picking herself back up again. And boy, can she throw a punch.

The casting of Merced as Rachel was spot on.Not only is she incredibly talented, making this not only A-lister Jason Momoa's film but hers too, but Merced and Momoa together had such great chemistry that they were believable as a grieving father and daughter who only had each other. Their on-screen chemistry made the themes of family, fatherhood and what we pass on to our children all the more profound, so much so that it stayed with me. So too did the much larger theme of Big Pharma companies putting profits ahead of the lives of the everyday people they claim to be helping.

I'll admit, though there's a lot to take in and plenty of action to keep you entertained, there were moments where I felt the film was dragging a bit. The run time is only 1h 36m, but closer to the end, I started to wonder when it would end and hoped that Jason Momoa would take out the bad guys already. That said, it's worth sticking out. And though there's a certain level of predictability to a film like this, I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.

Sweet Girl is another successful action film for the streaming giant, with strong performances by both Jason Momoa and Isabela Merced. It's more than just an entertaining watch, and though Brian Mendoza wouldn't dream of depriving us of seeing Jason Momoa kick some ass, there are so many tender moments that set Sweet Girl apart. There's just so much heart to this Netflix film that will surely tug at your heartstrings.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

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