In what will definitely go down as one of the most disappointing titles of 2022, Lou brings together Oscar-winner Allison Janney, Jurnee Smollett, and Logan Marshall-Green, yet wastes them on a predictable thriller premise. How many times have we seen the same generic kidnapping story? It grows tiresome to go through the motions with these characters knowing full well there won’t be a satisfying payoff for the time invested. While Lou may not necessarily be a bad film, it is unfortunately not particularly good either. What we are left with is a mixed bag of exciting action moments, predictable twists and turns, and performances that deserve a stronger script behind them.
A big storm is coming to the island, and gruff survivalist Lou (Janney) is on the cusp of a vital life decision. She digs up a chest filled with money and various documents as the film opens, her faithful dog by her side. Through a series of unexpected events, Lou’s dangerous past comes to the surface as she becomes embroiled in a kidnapping plot involving her neighbor. Hannah (Smollett) and her daughter, Vee (Ridley Asha Bateman, Shattered), live quietly together as they both attempt to move on from a tragedy that claimed the life of Hannah’s husband. Hannah’s power goes out during the big storm, but as she goes to check on it, Vee is snatched by deranged explosives expert Phillip (Marshall-Green, Prometheus, Upgrade). With the island’s power down and the airport and ferry closed, Lou and Hannah must team up for a glimmer of a chance in saving Vee from being carted away on a “private vessel.”
All over social media, I have been seeing Lou called a female John Wick. I would certainly say that Janney’s character carries maybe a fraction of Wick’s expertise and quickness at dispatching foes; regardless, Lou is not interested in exploring the action element nearly enough as one would hope. This is never more evident in the film’s flimsy climax—an underwhelming sacrifice of sorts that can be seen coming from a mile away. Only a couple genuine surprises are present, and even those unfortunately did not wow me.
I did appreciate Lou’s attempts at exploring drama. Both Hannah and Lou herself have hidden secrets and connective strengths. The script is unfortunately lacking the emotional heft of likeminded flicks. 2018’s Logan, for instance, poignantly combined the worlds of action and drama for a splendid cocktail. It also contained cathartic emotional release by way of a hard-hitting ending; Lou is neither bold enough to match that energy, nor showy enough to lean in hard on the action. As a result, Lou topples over in the weight of its own misguided storytelling. But, I digress—clearly Lou is no Logan. Two women traipsing about aimlessly, being toyed with by a sadistic man in the woods, can only sustain enjoyment for just so long before it wears out its own welcome.
Lou hunts for an unexpected kidnapper when it debuts exclusively to Netflix on Hannah.