“End of the Road” (US Rated R)
Cast: Queen Latifah, Chris Bridges, Beau Bridges, Mychala Faith Lee, Shaun Dixon
Genre: Action, Crime
Where to watch: Netflix
Are you seeking a cautionary tale or advice on how not to behave in potentially life and death scenarios that are easily avoided – unless you’re a complete idiot?
Or are you just a complete idiot and looking to see those with similar afflictions in a dramatic film, as opposed to the usual straight-out comedy?
Well, you’ve reached your destination; “End of the Road” features characters doing all the things that anyone who’s watched at least two movies in their life – or even just one day of television – has already learned are the things you just should never, ever do! Ever!
You’ve seen these things a million times. And so, for the entire one-and-a-half hours of the film, you’ll be saying: “This reminds me of …”; and “Didn’t they do this in that movie with …”; and “Is this a remake?”
No, it’s not officially a remake. “End of the Road” is a new original Netflix film released last Friday. In it, a cross-country road trip becomes a highway to hell for Brenda (Queen Latifah) and her family. Alone in the New Mexico desert, they have to fight for their lives when they become the targets of a mysterious killer.
From beginning to end, they encounter a perfect storm of ridiculousness, as every single weird thing that could happen happens. And hey, in real life, crazy stuff does indeed happen. But here, all the decisions made to address these issues are the opposite of what probably 90 percent of the human population would do today.
Latifah’s Brenda is responsible for a good deal of the dumb choices. And clearly, that’s part of her character’s genetic makeup; her brother Reggie (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) deserves a trophy for “Dumbest Film Character of The Year”, with shockingly faulty and downright wacky thought-processing and reasoning.
You almost start to wonder if we really should be rooting for them to get out of these jams. Or should the bad guys just have their way with them. You’ll also likely find yourself shouting at the screen and screaming out some bad words and names at some people (and not just the goons).
Despite the familiar plot, there are a couple of surprises. And even though their characters are quite silly, Latifah and (Chris) Bridges, as well as Mychala Lee and Shaun Dixon, who play Brenda’s children, are somehow believable in their foolishness. And the legendary Beau Bridges is always entertaining. Obviously, the lame script deserves much of the blame.
As such, “End of the Road” is a mediocre and predictable movie, and useful only if you need self-affirmation, or as a learning tool for youngsters or cave dwellers.
It all feels very much like the “TV movies” that used to populate broadcast networks like CBS, NBC or ABC up until the late 1990s – before executives decided it would be even cheaper to slap on a silly game show, competition or reality show to fill those disposable hours.
So, perhaps it’s Netflix which needs to heed the warning signs on this highway. If you’re now firmly in the business of cranking out B-movies (and “End of the Road” certainly is not their first) that barely would have made it on the air decades ago on one of the networks you’ve nearly put out of business: “DANGER! DANGER! Turn around Netflix, and go the other way!”
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.