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Role Play (A Movie Review)

ROLE PLAY (2024)

Starring Kaley Cuoco, David Oyelowo, Connie Nielsen, Bill Nighy, Rudi Dharmalingam, Simon Delaney, Lucia Aliu, Regan Bryan-Gudgeon, Sonita Henry, Jade Dregorius, Julia Schunevitsch, Stephanie Levi-John, Steffen Jung, Betty Kaplan, Dee Yoon, Matthias Schmidt, Moritz Berg, Angus McGruther, Dominic Holmes, Jonathan Failla, Stacy Thunes and Cornell Adams.

Screenplay by Seth Owen.

Directed by Thomas Vincent.

Distributed by Amazon MGM Studios. 100 minutes. Rated R.

Emma Brackett (Kaley Cuoco) is a New Jersey suburban wife and mother with a dark secret. It turns out that – unbeknownst to her husband Dave (David Oyelowo), her children and friends – she is a top covert contract killer.

Don’t worry, that is not a spoiler for the film. In fact we are introduced to her character when she methodically, seemingly unfeelingly, shoots and kills an apparent stranger in a strange airport and then disappears into the crowd.

It is only when she returns home that we learn about her complicated dueling lifestyles.

Those two lives come into conflict when she and her husband take a romantic trip to New York to celebrate their anniversary. To add a little spice to things, the two decide to do a little role play – pretending to be strangers who meet at a hotel bar.

Interrupting their little covert play is another traveler named Bob Kellerman (Bill Nighy). When Dave gets stuck in traffic on the way to the hotel, and Emma is sitting alone at the bar, Kellerman heads over to chat her up a bit. Even when Dave shows up, Kellerman won’t completely remove himself from the equation. And is it Emma’s imagination, but are some of Kellerman’s witty asides rather pointed suggestions that he may know more about her than she would (or should) be comfortable with?

This little rendezvous ends up exploding Emma’s shadow life, eventually bringing the police, the FBI and organized crime out of the woodworks in search of Emma, who must hit the road to try to go into hiding trying to avoid the many people coming out of the woodworks looking for her.

Honestly, Role Play is not the most unique storyline ever. I can think of at least a few other films where a spouse or lover is blindsided by the fact that their sweet, doting significant other is actually a paid killer. 

Perhaps a bit different is the fact that Role Play actually plays up the love story aspect of the story rather than focus completely on the life of an assassin (although, that of course is delved into as well).

In fact, in general, Role Play takes its well-trod territory and makes a mostly fun adventure and love story out of it. Cuoco is suitably torn between her two worlds and Oyelowo is wonderfully relatable as the blindsided husband who finds out that his wife is not actually a businessperson working in marketing and research.

Nighy is wonderful – as usual – as the cheerfully sinister stranger who intrudes their quaint suburban bubble. (Apparently, Billy Bob Thornton was originally supposed to play the role but had to pull out due to a scheduling conflict. The role and the movie would have been very different, no doubt, with Thornton in the role.)

Role Play is not the type of movie that will win any awards or change anyone’s life. However, if you have a little more than an hour and a half to waste, it’s a fun distraction.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2024 All rights reserved. Posted: January 12, 2024.

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