It flew under my radar so I missed its released date, but I did see the trailer and remember saying, “it’s about time a sci-fi movie with a majority black cast was put out.” On top of that it’s a thriller and mystery, which checks more genres I like. But what else can I say about it?

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I watched Don’t Let Go more than once and each time I found something I didn’t peep before. For instance, the trailer gave me the idea of it being about multiple dimensions or some story on the afterlife. I was way, way off. Not only that, I didn’t fully understand what was going on once I saw it.

I thought the daughter (Storm Reid) and her family died twice thinking maybe her uncle (David Oyelowo) had some ability to keep saving her. Think of Groundhog’s Day or Edge Of Tomorrow. I know it makes no sense now, but that scene of him discovering the bodies a second time I didn’t think of it being a memory. It confused me like, “damn they died again?” But that’s what make it interesting, like putting pieces to a puzzle together.

Don’t Let Go suppose to involve time travel, and although they mention it there’s no one who actually travels through time. In movies like See You Yesterday or Terminator Genisys you’ll have someone who’ll go from one timeline, to the next and then back again with some form of technology. Time travel gets tricky from thereon out, but they take another approach and one that simplifies the whole process.

Somehow the uncle and daughter magically link and the scene where she first call his phone establishes this, but it’s never clear how. Just suspend your disbelief and enjoy the show. However, this is the part where I’m thinking maybe the call is coming from another dimension or the afterlife because she’s dead. They make it known these two have a strong bond, and the idea it could transcend death or into other dimensions is a fair assessment I think. After all, we’re talking science fiction concepts here so anything is possible.

The second time I saw it things started making more sense. Whatever actions she did in her time affected his. “Save me, save you.” The two timelines connect together. When he asked her to paint a red X on the door in her time, it was later an X on that same door but in his time. They continuously show this relationship all throughout the story.

The second diner scene is when it all comes to fruition. How I didn’t catch it is mostly from my initial impressions and not following the clues. Like the moment they shot him and he nearly died, he tells her to do something beforehand, and the results of her actions alter the timeline where the event at that point never took place.

The scene where he’s alive and inside the car with Bobby (Mykelti Williamson) is the new reality.

Now the way the movie treats time or “time travel” is linear, but again, they never say how this happened. It doesn’t fully take away from the story I feel nor am I meticulous when it comes to these things. But after seeing it a few more times there still were parts that left me wondering. As you watch it, the movie implicates one of the cops as a suspect and on multiple occasions.

The yellow hat implies the uncle’s boss (Alfred Molina) might be the killer.

They even show a moment of the uncle’s suspicion toward him, confirming who it might be. But the yellow hat in the backseat, I never figured out its significance. It’s likely a way for the creators to trick the audience to not suspect it’s been the man next to him all along. 

Reservations

The stereotyping of Negroes in film history is, to say the least, disgraceful. In the past, the audience has supported films which have depicted Negroes as fools, country bumpkins, freaks, servile individuals, and “Uncle Toms.” Prior to 1918, these screen images, with few exceptions, were portrayed by white men wearing corked make-up. Following the end of World War I, Negroes were permitted to display themselves as stupid, frightened clods who panicked in the presence of ghosts, animals and shadows. When not otherwise occupied, the emancipated Negro actor could perform the role of a greedy and parasitic being. Although there were exceptions over the years for example, Arrowsmith (1932) and The Emperor Jones (1935) the image of the Negro up to the end of World War II was insulting and perverted.Frank Manchel

With all that said and done, I have my critiques. If I had control over the story, I wouldn’t make an inadequate black father (Brian Tyree Henry) who sells drugs to support his family. There are infinite ways to put that character in an equal situation. The entire movie is based off this one guy being a father who brings his entire family down. Of course that creates the conditions between the daughter and uncle as well as highlight police corruption, which gives us our story, but we can create more unique characters than that.

Also, when I think of movies I see them as forms of communication that shape and reinforce ideas and beliefs on society and people. This movie presented an image — among others — of a black father that’s not in the best light. It plays into attitudes of black men as criminals and drug dealers. Now I believe producers are capable of making black characters but without the stereotypical images normally used. It begs the question about Don’t Let Go’s creators. If the father isn’t a drug dealer but an athletic coach who sees something or a hard at work official who uncovers a scandal, does it get made?

What About The Ending?

The reveal of the true killer and seeing our two main characters survive leaves us without closure. In the end, we have the daughter’s parents who are dead and the uncle’s partner dead as well. What happens next? Does the daughter still have a connection to the future she changed? What happens to the boss and Georgie? Most importantly, what does the aftermath between the daughter and uncle look like? There are questions still left unanswered. It’s why I think Don’t Let Go is a great mind-bender but shy on some details. Overall, I thought highly of the story because it’s not every year you get one like it.

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Recommended Material:

Manchel, Frank. “Film Images of the Negro.” The Teacher’s Guide to Media & Methods, 31 Mar. 1967, eric.ed.gov/?id=ED028159.

Townsend, Robert, director. Hollywood Shuffle. 1 Jan. 1987, tubitv.com/movies/305148/hollywood_shuffle.

Aj+. “Black Dads Have Outperformed Other Groups When It Comes to Bathing, Feeding and Playing with Their Kids. So Where Does the Myth of the Absentee Black Father Come from?” Twitter, Twitter, 3 May 2019, twitter.com/ajplus/status/1124426838556561408?s=20.

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