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  Take Back Mom Has A Secret
Year: 2021
Director: Christian Sesma
Stars: Gillian White, Mickey Rourke, Michael Jai White, James Russo, Paul Sloan, Jessica Uberuaga, Priscilla Walker, Chris Walker, Jay Giannone, David Will No, Viktoriya Dov, Jay Montalvo, Vince DeCosta, Victoria Rani, Adam Rote, Lucia Romero
Genre: Drama, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Zara (Gillian White) is a successful smalltown lawyer, happily married to Brian (Michael Jai White) with a stepdaughter, Audrey (Priscilla Walker), and seemingly everything she could want out of life, including an aptitude for martial arts which she uses to train and keep fit with her husband. But one day, she is in a coffee shop when a ne'erdowell enters and starts harassing the woman behind the counter, as she is his ex-girlfriend and he does not understand that no means no. When he pulls a gun, Zara's training sees her disarming and booting him to the ground with ease until the police arrive, but she has reckoned without the shop's security camera picking up her defensive display, so when the clip goes viral on the internet, she becomes a celebrity...

The makers of Take Back were obviously hoping the same thing would happen to Mrs White, giving this the framework of David Cronenberg's A History of Violence only with the flavour of a direct to DVD or streaming effort. Director Christian Sesma had built a career out of this sort of production in the two decades previous, diverting from his day job as a restaurateur, but this suggested he needed fresher ideas to truly stand out from the pack in an admittedly crowded field. Zara finds herself beset not only by local news cameras, but also people claiming to have known her in a previous life of crime, which she flatly denies so often you are compelled to wonder when it will turn out she is being economical with the truth and all will inevitably be revealed.

Before that, the film needed to give her the motive for busting heads, but it took its own sweet time about it. There was a burst of action in the first half when a maniac breaks into her house and attacks her, which sees the man dead (via pizza cutter!) and more media attention coming her way, and sequences like these were what you had signed up for, yet after a while you realised they were going to be cheeseparing in their frequency at best. You wanted action and nothing but from a flick like this, but it was under the mistaken impression we were more interested in those motives, therefore spent far too long pussyfooting around with meandering scenes of the Mr Big drawing up plans for putting Zara in her place. Though here was a point of interest: he was played by former golden boy of eighties cinema Mickey Rourke, now almost unrecognisable thanks to cosmetic surgery.

Even from his turn in The Wrestler, which had enjoyed Oscar buzz what seems like an aeon ago from the release of Take Back. It's unclear whether he had been difficult to direct, but he did take up too much screen time playing with his fluffy pet dogs on the sofa or the bed instead of getting up to anything useful, though presumably the pooches appreciated the attention. This was patently intended to break Gillian White on the action scene in a starring role as her husband on and off screen had been a few years before, but Sesma was clearly too easily distracted by superfluous business, or perhaps was eking out the actual action as carefully as he could, which had the opposite of the desired effect, as if he was lacking confidence in his leading lady. This was confounding: when you watched a Cynthia Rothrock movie of old, she filled up the running time with fights and stunts, and those had by no means been big budget. Yet here we were offered a heroine who was bizarrely neglected in what should have been her big showcase. It was watchable, but unmemorable. Music by Nima Fakhrara and Navid Hejazi.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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