WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
Aiming to ideally capture the younger, teen girl audience, director Kyle Newman (“Fanboys“) takes the reins for this action/comedy centering on trained special ops agent (Hailee Steinfeld), initially known only as “83”. Brought up from childhood at an elite training academy run by a man known as Hardman (Samuel L. Jackson), “83” has been all over the world on secret and dangerous missions, utilizing the skills she’s learned from the only life she’s ever known. However, as time goes by and she grows and enters her teen years, certain aspects of actually being a kid begin to attract her attention while out in the field, only made worse in that she has never had the opportunity to experience any of it herself. But Hardman’s focus remains on capturing arch enemy Victoria Knox (Jessica Alba), who has a habit of taking out members of Hardman’s school. On a mission with fellow agent, “84” (Sophie Turner), to apprehend Knox, “83” makes a radical decision to change her life circumstance and try to live as a “normal” adolescent girl. Finding a new family, taking the name Megan Walsh, and masquerading as an exchange student, “83” attempts to blend in and deprogram herself from being an agent, all while finding out quickly that being in high school, much less just being a teen, is a lot harder than any mission she’s ever faced. Soon, it is up to her newfound friends and foster siblings to help teach her what teen life is really all about, especially when the past catches up to her.
This reviewer will first freely admit that he is not the primary audience this film is intended for. That said, the story is one that had a lot of promise to it, and in some part, did deliver on it, but on the other hand, fell a little short. The main draw would be Hailee Steinfeld, who has more than previously proven she is one of the best actresses in the new generation out there (see “True Grit“, “Begin Again“, “3 Days To Kill“). Here, she does manage to elevate what really could have been a completely “dead” role otherwise, bringing her unique sense of innocent charm, beauty, and some fighting skills to the table as “83”/Megan. But there just feels like something is still missing here, and despite the mention above of the overall audience the effort is aimed at, the writing/dialogue still seemed to come dangerously close to being completely cheesy as opposed to delivering the film’s lighter, comical aspects in a more polished way that would have kept the tongue-in-cheek aura, but not at the expense of total silliness. The action sequences are fun, of course, and the supporting cast around Steinfeld do pull off their parts in appropriate ways. In total, “Barely Lethal” was an indie effort in the same general vein of “Violet & Daisy“, just much less raw and intense, and that was expected. But, the film falls short of the absolute entertainment it could have been, and that is unfortunate.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!