Tuesday 31 January 2023

REVIEW: The Independent (2022) - Starring Jodie Turner-Smith, Brian Cox, Luke Kirby, Stephen Lang, Ann Dowd, and John Cena

Review by Jon Donnis
Sometimes in life you need to listen to your instincts, unfortunately today is a day where I failed to follow that simple advice. So, I hear about a political film about a reporter who uncovers a conspiracy that could impact the results of an upcoming presidential election. Sadly, this is not the story of how Democratic politicians illegally coordinated with far-left political activists in twitter to suppress a story and fix an election to elect their own candidate. No that would be way too interesting of a story to make a film about. (See Twitter Files). So already I do not want to watch a political film that you just know will be pushing a certain bias, but alas the film has John Cena in it! And I like John Cena, so I thought what the hell, maybe it is a comedy. Boy was I wrong.

Jodie Turner-Smith stars as Elisha "Eli" James, a reporter at the Washington Chronicle, (basically the Washington Post), she breaks a story that Olympic gold medallist, and best-selling author Nate Sterling (John Cena) is about to announce that he is going to run for President in the upcoming election as an independent candidate. He is going up against the incumbent President, an unpopular Democrat, and a Republican called Patricia Turnbull, who if elected would be the first Female President. 

With the country in economic turmoil under the Democrat President (sound familiar?), Eli notices a strange trend with the Lottery, in that less people are playing it, which is the opposite of what happens when an economy is in decline, as there are more desperate people out there. Eli uncovers a conspiracy that Turnbull is embezzling funds from the lottery and moving them into a Super PAC (political action committee) to help her get elected. SPOILER, its not the Republican who is doing it.

The problem with this film is that it is incredibly dull, for long periods of time, John Cena is barely in it, and the whole film just stinks of the kind of nonsense that could have been written by a hack journalist like Brian Stelter. Basically, journalists are great and honest, and will do whatever it takes to reveal the truth. The irony of course being the absolute opposite, as we have learnt over the past day with the very real-life Twitter Files scandal.

The big plot line in this film, just isn't that interesting, and when the main plot device pales in significance to the real-life corruption of politics, then what's the point? A political film, needs to be over the top, it needs to be crazier than real life, now I understand that is tough considering how crazy things are right now, but still, you should at least try.

In many ways this is less a political film, and more a film about how great and honest journalists are, when the reality is that trust in journalism and the media is at all time lows.

The Good
The last 20 minutes is ok, there is a bit of tension built, not much, but a bit.

The Bad
The media are the enemy of the people, we know that, so why not make a film about that, instead of some weird propaganda piece. The film is just dull. John Cena doesn't really do anything, and this is clearly just a pay check for him, and a famous face for them to stick on the post. John Cena should turn down roles like this, he deserves better.

Maybe just watch the last half hour, if you can be bothered. John Cena fans, don't waste your time. 

Dull film, that just misses on every level.

I score The Independent a poor 3/10.

Out now on digital. https://apple.co/3UJxYIF