Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Review: Prime Video's "ROLE PLAY" Offers an Odd Couple

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 of 2024 (No. 1948) by Leroy Douresseaux

Role Play (2024)
Running time:  101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPA – R for violence and language
DIRECTOR: Thomas Vincent
WRITER:  Seth Owen
PRODUCERS:  Kaley Cuoco, Alex Heinenman, and Andrew Rona
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Maxime Alexandre (ASC)
EDITOR:  Gareth C. Scales
COMPOSER:  Rael Jones


Starring:  Kaley Cuoco, David Oyelowo, Connie Nielsen, Rudi Dharmalingam, Lucia Aliu, Regan Bryan-Gudgeon, Jade-Eleena Dregorius, Stephanie Levi-John, and Bill Nighy



--Role Play is somewhat similar to the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie film, Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), which was a big-budget action-comedy.  Role Play is a smaller scale action-thriller with darker, edgier humor.

--Kaley Cuoco and David Oyelowo are an odd pairing, and for at least half of this film, they seem miscast in their roles.

--Role Play is an average, entertaining film that is better suited for Prime Video than it is for the big screens of a local movie theater.  Still, the last half hour of the film really intensifies.


Role Play is a 2024 action-thriller and black comedy film from director Thomas Vincent.  The film is an Amazon “Prime Original” that began streaming on “Prime Video” January 12, 2024.  Role Play focuses on an assassin whose secret life intrudes on her life as a suburban wife and mother.

Role Play introduces Emma Brackett (Kaley Cuoco).  She is married to Dave Brackett (David Oyelowo) and is now the mother to his son from his first marriage, Wyatt (Regan Bryan-Gudgeon), and is mother to the daughter, Caroline (Lucia Aliu), she had with Dave.  Emma and Dave have been married seven years and are living in New Jersey.  But Emma has forgotten their anniversary because she was busy overseas killing someone and not in Nebraska, as she told her husband.

To make up for forgetting their anniversary, Emma suggests that they spice things up by engaging in some romantic role play at “the Royal Grand” hotel in New York City.  The fun, however, is interrupted by Robert “Bob” Kitterman (Bill Nighy), who is actually a rival assassin out to claim a bounty placed on Emma by her former agency, Sovereign.  Emma is forced to reveal her real self – Anna Peller, professional killer.  Now, her past has returned to reclaim her.

Dear readers, as soon as you read Role Play's synopsis, you will likely think of the hit 2005 film, Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  Directed by Doug Liman, the action-comedy film stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  They play a bored upper middle class couple, but both are actually assassins working for competing agencies.  One day, they are assigned to kill each other.

Role Play is described as an action-comedy, but it is truthfully an action-thriller and dark comedy.  The film does have a comic undertone; there are some genuinely funny moments; and the film's musical score by Rael Jones is action-comedy pitch perfect.  Role Play, however, features several violent fight scenes and brutal killings, in addition to its offbeat sensibility.

One reason is the casting.  Kaley Cuoco is best known for playing the role of “Penny” on CBS's long-running, former sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory” (2007-19).  I found it a little difficult to picture her as an assassin or professional killer.  David Oyelowo is known for his serious dramatic roles in such films as Red Tails (2012) and Selma (2014), as well as for his role in the recent Paramount+ Western television miniseries, Lawmen: Bass Reeves (2023).  For about the first hour of the film, I did not find him convincing as the clueless suburban husband.

However, once Anna Peller's cover as Emma is blown, Cuoco is forced to give it her all trying to convince the audience that she is a killer, and suddenly sitcom Penny seems quite dark, indeed.  Also, it is then that Oyelowo can drop the hubby routine and become the spousal partner-in-crime.  In the last half hour to 40 minutes of the film, Emma and Dave actually become funnier characters.  Then, Role Play takes on its action-thriller aspects with gusto.

Director Thomas Vincent makes the most of the film's more intense moments, giving Seth Owen's screenplay, which probably had more juice on the printed page, a jolt.  Role Play is the kind of easy-going film that could not make it as a theatrical release, but it makes for an entertaining streaming film, especially once the leads really start to... play their roles.

5 of 10
★★½ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The text is copyright © 2024 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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