End of the Road (2022)

Mychala Lee, Shaun Dixon, Frances Lee McCain, Jesse Luken,
In this high-octane action thriller, a cross-country road trip becomes a highway to hell for Brenda and her family. Alone in the New Mexico desert, they have to fight for their lives when they become the targets of a mysterious ki...
  • 4.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2022-09-11 Added:
  • Christopher J. Moore, David Loughery, Writer:
  • Millicent Shelton, Director:
  • Mark Burg, Tracey E. Edmonds, Brad Kaplan, Producer:

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7 / 10

A solid if familiar genre thriller with good turns by Queen Latifah and Chris Bridges and a strong feature debut for director Millicent Shelton

Following the loss of her husband Jake to cancer that has also left the family with crippling medical debt, ER Nurse and single mother Brenda Freeman (Queen Latifah) sells her home in Los Angeles and takes her two children, Kelly (Mychala Lee) and Cameron "Cam" (Sahun Dixon), and her younger brother Reggie Beaumont (Chris Bridges) across country from Los Angeles, California to live with Brenda's mother in Houston, Texas. During their stay at a roadside motel in Arizona, the family hears an altercation followed by gunfire in the neighboring room and after the assailant speeds away Brenda and Reggie go next door to find a man with a shot to the neck whom Brenda tries to save to no avail. After giving their statement to the police, the family continues onward but eventually Brenda receives a phone call angrily demanding money and Brenda learns that Reggie took a bag of money from the hotel room intent on using it to help the family get a fresh start. Meanwhile Arizona State Trooper Captain JD Hammers (Beau Bridges) tries to find the Freeman's believing the altercation at the motel may be linked to ruthless and enigmatic drug lord Mr. Cross.

End of the Road is the latest genre film from Netflix and comes to us from seasoned screenwriter David Loughery and first-time feature director Millicent Shelton who has previously worked extensively in TV and music videos. Shelton had stated her intention with the film was into tapping into the social status of Black Americans and using a traditional thriller setup to convey that. The movie is pretty familiar in its structure and is reminiscent of those cookie cutter thrillers Screen Gems such as No Good Deed, Obsessed, The Perfect Man or The Intruder that take time tested thriller concepts you remember from the genre's boon in the mid-90s and use them as low to mid budget vehicles for established black leads such as Idris Elba, Morris Chestnut, or Michael Ealy. The film is well trodden ground for screenwriter Loughery who has penned a number of those kinds of thrillers including Lakeview Terrace, Obsessed, and The Intruder and while those movies aren't groundbreaking, there is a sort of silly charm you get from them especially when you watch them opening day in the theater in a packed house with a lot of that audience energy making for a fun time as their reactions are often as much a part of the experience as the movie itself. While it is a little disappointing not to have the option of seeing this movie in a packed house, this is slightly above average in quality in comparison to some of those other examples and the film features solid likable leads and strong direction by Shelton who shows solid handling of simple material in her first time helming a feature.

The movie makes no secret of what it is as the movie only clocks in at about 82 minutes not including credits and it uses that time efficiently as we're introduced to the characters and situation effectively establishing everyone in the family and giving us some solid and surprisingly likable character moments with some of the interactions between the family such as conversations in the car or horseplay in the hotel room making the characters endearing enough they could've sustained a film even without the "money in a bag" thriller setup we end up with. Queen Latifah is really good as Brenda and she sells the role as a determined but very sad mother and you do root for her as a protagonist. Chris Bridges is also very good as Brenda's brother Reggie who's positioned as being a screwup, but a well meaning one who does try and with the best of intentions. I also though Mychala Lee and Shaun Dixon were quite good as the kids and while kids in these kind of thriller films can sometimes become grating, I felt Loughery did enough to sidestep that pitfall and make them kind of endearing if not particularly substantive.

Now I will say this movie is pretty familiar territory with most of the beats of the plot not deviating all that far from the established norm right down to the fact that the faceless "Mr. Cross" character is positioned as a reveal, and you know pretty much from the first time a character is introduced that you think "that guy did it!" and you'll be right. The movie doesn't have much in the way of surprises, but it's rollercoaster entertainment that keeps things fast, tense, and relentless with some sequences of tension such as a confrontation with two peckerwoods or the motel sequence being points where your breathing will stop and wonder "what's going to happen?". We also get some really memorable night shots with Shelton bathing the scenes in a violet light that gives those shots a unique visual identity and is a welcome change from many thrillers that often use the dark as a cost saving measure and you can only view vague silhouettes of what's going on rather than enjoy the action.

I enjoyed End of the Road for what it was, a well made quick thriller that kept me invested and didn't overstay its welcome. Both Latifah and Bridges are really good in the movie, and Shelton shows a strong handling of the material that does make me think she has a future as a reliable genre director. On a side note I was appreciative of the fact this movie went for an R-Rating when many Screen Gems movies often go for a PG-13 and make this kind of film feel like a "movie of the week" you should be watching on Lifetime or TNT so that also helps elevate it a bit more than your typical genre piece.

5 / 10

an alright road crime thriller

This was an alright film. Not particularly great, but not completely bad either. Queen latifah and ludacris playing the mother and uncle of the family did a good job, after their family decide to move to tulsa things go wrong on the way there as they are soon mixed up with bad people, money and drugs. Latifah kicks some ass and reminds me of her character from the equalizer. The film does suffer from the usural things that are in this type of film, which is now boring and has no need being there. Apart from that though the action was well paced and there were a few laughs but very minimal. Something else with this film is that it came off almost comical in certain areas playing off like a graphic novel and not like the thriller, crime drama that it was supposed to be. Overall not to bad but really netflix originals can and have been a lot better.

7 / 10

Not bad

Here's a low budget thriller that never manages to overly excite or thrill, but isn't a total turkey either.

The story is about a family that after losing the man of the family have to move house to a different state, but en-route, they run into some serious trouble and lives become at stake. I like the simple nature of this story and it could have been a very tense, nail biting thriller, but it is let down by the several flaws it has. Firstly and most relevantly is that the characters make some seriously bad decisions, which cause a bit of unrealism.

There's also some shockingly fight scenes that could have been plucked from a comedy.

Another issue was the obvious use of Green Screens. I'm not sure why they even needed them in a film essentially shot mostly in a car. If i can see when it's a green screen, i tend to not be impressed. Also how come that everyone seems to take all the events in their stride, are they used to things like this happening to their family, because in the real world most people would get serious PTSD from their bad luck.

Putting all that aside, it's still an ok movie, with a pretty good script and some good acting on Latifah's part, (not so much from Beau Bridges, who's got the Hammy-meter all the way up to max).

Oh and there's a really cool twist too towards the end which i wasn't expecting, so bonus points for that.

Sadly, as enjoyable this was in places, because of the several poor elements, i can only score this 6 out of 10.

6 / 10

An alright film for weekend viewing

End of the road was just an alright film. It did have a twist which I really didn't expect in the slightest. The acting was good. One thing I kept asking though, is WHY was there purple neon lights everywhere? Wherever the family went, it was if they were in a massive greenhouse under purple grow lights almost the entire time, is this normal for the part of the US they're in? Movie uses the "All yt people are evil" trope but that's probably how that area of the US is so I'm not surprised it wasn't scared to be geographically accurate. The ending seemed a bit deus ex machina though. Was just an okay film for the weekend viewing.

7 / 10

See this is my type of film!

Definitely My type of movie. It flowed well, it was a thrill ride for sure. The suspense kept me hooked from beginning to end. I wasn't too agitated by the characters. It was overall good acting. Though the plot was predictable it was entertaining. And last but not least I was pleased with the ending and not disappointed. ???? This movie showed A road trip that makes a lot of folks like me cringe. I'm hesitant to travel by vehicle, fearful of the sundown towns and running into folks that could be responsible for making me a missing person. I'll have to get a Gofund me to help ship my things to wherever I relocate too before traveling through areas like TX and OK. Anywhere there's backwoods mindsets residing.