The initial minutes of Lou set the stage for all the seen-it-before tropes to follow. Lou (Allison Janney), a lone, middle-aged woman, lives in a remote jungle town. Her only companion is her dog Jax, who accompanies the former spy on hunting trips.
On the night of a severe storm, mere minutes before Lou plans to end her life, her neighbour Hannah (Jurnee Smollett) barges in, panic-stricken. Someone has kidnapped her daughter Vee (Ridley Asha Bateman), leaving behind a cryptic note. With power and phone lines down, she has no choice but to take her cold, unfriendly neighbour’s help.
Janney, Smollett and Bateman deliver believable performances, but the predictable chestnut tale of a ‘disgraced former spy with an agenda attempting to lead a sequestered life’ is as old as the skies. Lou stands as an affront to Janney’s calibre. The skills of the actor, who is well known for her performances in films such as I, Tonya, American Beauty and The Help, have been under-utilised in this action thriller.
The film attempts to explore several themes, the central one being the neglected-child narrative and how it can lead to psychotic breakdowns in one’s adulthood, but the superficial treatment leaves the audience wondering. Why is Lou the loner that she is? What made her quit the forces? Barring a passing mention of a botched CIA operation, the background of Lou’s trauma is barely addressed.
Lou exhibits control issues, a trait akin to professionals from the forces. She is also pitted against another colleague to reveal shades of grey in her character. When she exhibits the combat skills of a trained fighter while trying to rescue Vee, it feels out of place that Hannah, unaware of Lou’s past, never raises suspicion about her neighbour. There are too many loose ends, and no one to tie them.
The one non-negotiable quality of a thriller is the edge-of-the-seat suspense that builds on intricate details about characters and circumstances, winding storylines, sometimes oscillating between the past and present, leading up to a mind-blowing climax, but none of it happens in Lou.
Considering the barrage of action thrillers that are released every week on OTT platforms, it is perhaps too much to ask for a film to be completely original, but novelty is always expected. Lou falls short on all fronts—narrative, intent, plot, and, most of all, thrill.
Director: Anna Foerster
Genre: Action Thriller