Double Feature: Lila & Eve (2015) & Hustlers (2019)

Next up for Double Feature, we take a look at a Jennifer Lopez double feature as we look at 2015’s crime drama thriller Lila & Eve and 2019’s Hustlers. Two films that feature also are about crime and female duo as their main characters. Let’s check it out!

Lila & Eve (2015)

Director: Charles Stone III

Cast: Viola Davis, Jennifer Lopez, Aml Ameen, Ron Caldwell, Yolonda Ross, Elisa Perry, Shea Whigham, Andre Royo

Two distraught mothers, whose children were gunned down in a drive-by, team up to avenge their deaths after local authorities fail to take action. – IMDB

Considering this one as a spontaneous watch as I only found it as it was about to leave Netflix but it has Viola Davis who is a fantastic actress so it was a great selling point. This is a pretty decent thriller overall. It does pull a Fight Club sort of twist but the overall execution is pretty good. The devastation of two mothers bonding together over a grief group with opposite personalities creates a nice contrast between the two as they decide to follow the clues to figure out who is responsible for their children being gunned down in a drive-by, making this into a revenge crime thriller.

There is some things to like about this film. For one, Viola Davis is as usual very good in her role of Lila and the friendship that she has with Jennifer Lopez’s Eve is done really well also. There’s a good build-up of their friendship from how they meet to their views and conversations about what has happened to their own children and not being able to just accept the grief and move on but rather find out what really happened. Also, Jennifer Lopez delivers a decent performance here. I give a lot of grief about watching lackluster Jennifer Lopez performances mostly because the movies itself usually aren’t anything to call home about. Lila & Eve might not be perfect as it does have some issues of its own but Jennifer Lopez’s role is fitting for the character that has been written here.

With that said, there are some faults to this movie. The script and pacing might be a little off. The script is alright however it might have to do with some of the supporting roles that aren’t delivered well enough which makes some lackluster dialogue and such. However, the finale is well worth a note as it does deliver fairly well and did take me a little by surprise. Overall, Lila & Eve is an alright thriller with some good and some bad elements but has two good performances from Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez that could be worth a watch.

Hustlers (2019)

Director (and co-writer): Lorene Scafaria

Cast: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Mette Towley, Wai Ching Ho, Vanessa Aspillaga, Trace Lysette, Marcy Richardson, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Mercedes Ruehl, Cardi B

Inspired by the viral New York Magazine article, Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. – IMDB

With a good amount of decent reviews and a group of female cast, Hustlers is inspired by a true story which feels a bit like the situation of The Bling Ring and has a little bit of pacing almost like Pain & Gain. In some ways, it takes a look at the world of strip club employees whether its the change with the economy, the survival and even the sexy moves and shows that comes along with the territory. The whole crime that goes down from how its structured to the execution has some fun elements to it. The atmosphere, environment as well as the narration of an interview that looks back at the past which eventually tests the friendship between Destiny and Ramona becomes a highlight that frames these characters into who they are gradually.

The female cast here has a few familiar faces. Jennifer Lopez being the experienced and dynamic character Ramona to prove that she not only has the body and physical ability to carry out the role but also bring in a fairly deep character that plays like a mentor and leader to this crew who moves forward to make money when the economy changes. On the other hand, she carries along a new member of this business Destiny played by Constance Wu, previously known for her role in Crazy Rich Asians which is definitely a change of pace and character. There’s no doubt that Hustlers is at its best when Ramona and Destiny. Their mentorship, friendship and partnership moves from one step to the next that creates a good dynamic between the two. . With them are some other familiar faces like Julia Stiles, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer and Cardi B as some of the girls while also having Wai Ching Ho as Destiny’s grandmother, they all add a little something as well. Perhaps for myself is seeing Lili Reinhart in something aside from Riverside where she also has an interesting character but also different from this one.

Being unfamiliar with the article or the inspiration of the true story, Hustlers plays out like a movie and yet, most of it doesn’t get as far-fetched as say, The Bling Ring however, the whole dive into the story that spans over years and through the different economic setting of US plays into the shift in the industry does bring out an interesting angle to how this is executed. Plus, Jennifer Lopez yet again delivers a great performance and probably the stand-out of the crew especially with her eye-catching fur coat outfit. The execution isn’t perfect but overall, Hustlers is an entertaining watch.

BITS 2019: She Never Died (2019)

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She Never Died (2019)

She Never Died

Director: Audrey Cummings

Cast: Olunike Adeliyi, Peter MacNeill, Kiana Madeira, Michelle Nolden, Noah Dalton Danby, Edsson Morales, Katie Messina, Murray Furrow

When a girl goes missing, a woman with a mysterious past tracks down the people responsible. – IMDB

Set in the same universe of 2015’s Canadian horror drama/comedy/thriller He Never Died, She Never Died is not a direct sequel but rather focuses on another character – a strong female character called  Lacey, played by Olunike Adeliyi. Lacey is  an immortal who lives in tedium of existence and hunts down the villainous bad guys in the society to keep her compulsions in check. In one of her huntings (or feedings..whichever you want to call it), she gets discovered by a detective Godfrey (Peter MacNeill) who is following the same man as she uses for her huntings called Terrence (Noah Dalton Danby), who is suspicious of human trafficking. Together they join together to pursue him and ends up diving deeper into their operations.

What contributes a lot to She Never Died is having this mysterious creature and having something more unique in the form of something like a vampire in its immortality but having reactions almost like a werewolf but also these marks on her back. Watching the character of Lacey on screen, with her sparse words and her badass appearance and attitude, there’s a righteousness that fills the air. In fact, the three main characters here: Lacey, Godfrey and even the girl that joins their little team, Suzie (Kiana Madeira) all have their not so glorious decisions but still has this good in them that helps them stick together with each other despite the fact they are actually all very much strangers to each other. These characters and the cast that brings them all to life, add so much to how it becomes incredibly enjoyable aside from the nice grasp of atmosphere and tone from director Audrey Cummings.

Some of the elements are a bit questionable. You could call the mystery of Lacey a lack of depth as her character does have very vague expressions but at the same time, its not exactly a very deep film. There are no questions on how the story will turn out especially with the bad guy, Terrence that dabbles in the dark web who is a rather cookie-cutter sort of villain that feels like he has an unsettling nature but is the brawn of the operation while the hint of incestuous relationship with his sister (Michelle Nolden) who is a much more mysterious as character has not a lot of appearance to add intrigue. There’s a lot going on and its ending definitely hints at a huge possibility that this world still has space to build upon and even a possible sequel.

While having never seen He Never Died, She Never Died is a decent film. Packed with some dark humor, some action, a good bit of gore and the whole question of what Lacey actually is (which does have a huge hint at the ending). Its a huge mystery and yet, surprisingly no one questions her being but accepts her differences and how her abilities adds to the situation. There’s an obvious lack of depth in the film for its myriad of characters and yet the film itself has a decent pacing to keep it interesting with the action and the flow.

*She Never Died is screening at Blood in the Snow Festival on November 22nd at 9:30pm*