Directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote.
Starring Lulu Wilson, Seann William Scott, and Kate Siegel.
Two years after she escaped a violent attack on her family, Becky attempts to rebuild her life in the care of an older woman. But when a group known as The Noble Men break into their home, attack them, and take her beloved dog, Becky must return to her old ways to protect herself and her loved ones.
2020’s indie action-thriller Becky was something of a pleasant surprise when it came out of nowhere a few months into the global pandemic; a modest revenge romp in which Lulu Wilson’s eponymous 13-year-old protagonist dismantled a sect of Neo-Nazis fronted by a shrewdly against-type Kevin James.
Three years later the amusingly portentously-monikered sequel The Wrath of Becky is here, which while offering few surprises nevertheless satisfies as a scrappy, stylish genre offering that gets in and out in a tight 84 minutes.
Since Becky (Wilson) avenged her fallen father at the end of the first film, she’s spent the last three years fleeing foster homes and attempting to live off the grid. She eventually settles with a kind elderly woman, Elena (Denise Burse), while working as a waitress – that is, until she crosses paths with a trio of alt-right chuds who hold membership in a fascist outfit known as The Noble Men.
Following an altercation at the diner, the three men invade Elena’s homestead, the traumatic result of which forces Becky to act, tailing the group to the remote rural compound of their leader, Daryl (Seann William Scott).
The Wrath of Becky is absolutely a movie where you’ll know precisely where it’s headed from beginning to end, yet as predictable as it might be, it’s also well-acted and compellingly crafted enough to mostly compensate.
Tonally, things are a little different this time around; there’s a more irreverent, goofy vibe than in the first Becky, possibly due to the behind-the-camera personnel being almost entirely new. Writing and directing are instead undertaken by filmmaking duo Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote – in a major improvement from their prior works The Open House and Hypnotic – in tandem with the original film’s only returning creative, co-writer Nick Morris.
The trio massage a touch more playfulness into the violent revenge fare this time, characterised by occasional comedic cutaways and Wilson’s entertainingly acerbic voiceover narration. There’s also a more pointedly satirical throughline by way of the alt-right doofus villains, who not merely content to treat women horribly and call them “femoids” (female + android – get it?), are also caught up in a scheme to assassinate a Latina senator who audiences will naturally compare to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
While the script ultimately only touches on the power of online radicalisation and the January 6th insurrection in broad strokes, that’s appropriate enough given the movie’s breezy pace and general refusal to ever get too bogged down for too long. It does, however, notably call the Noble Men precisely what they are – terrorists.
The filmmaking on display is generally stylish yet never indulgent enough to upset the rat-a-tat clip. There’s clear technical attention-to-detail in both the crisp, considered framing, and the ultra-violent blood-letting, which achieves an impressive fusion of digital and practical gore. Rounding out the crafts package is another searing electronic score from returning composer Nima Fakhrara, whose well-placed discordant screeches nicely punctuate pivotal moments.
Yet beyond all this, the highlight is assuredly Lulu Wilson’s performance, which once again finds a charming synthesis between hilarious and badass, with just enough sprinkling of vulnerability to remind us that, yes, she’s a slight-framed 16-year-old. Wilson’s clearly having a ton of fun here and happens to look quite terrific caked in blood; a killer combo if there ever was one.
The other majorly note-worthy performance comes courtesy of Sean William Scott, effectively taking the Kevin James role this time around as a popular comedy actor playing irredeemable human garbage. Scott, who in films like Bloodline has shown flecks of greater nuance than his mainstream filmography might suggest, brings a subdued menace to the fore which allows him to easily shed even the faintest whiff of American Pie’s Steve Stifler. A mid-film scene in which he recalls a harrowing tale from his time at war just might catch you off-guard, if only for Scott’s impressive dramatic restraint.
For most of his screen time, Scott’s Daryl is perennially exasperated at his reckless and incompetent underlings for kicking the bear that is Becky, in a manner unexpectedly reminiscent of Michael Nyqvist’s mob boss from the first John Wick. And when Scott eventually needs to burst into a more brutal, vicious mode, he nails that too.
It all wraps up with an amusing setup for a potential threequel, and if the filmmakers can rope in yet another comedian to play against-type as a horrible piece of shit, why the hell not? The world needs more modest movie franchises, and The Wrath of Becky is an agreeably breezy, small-scope sequel which largely delivers more of the broadly entertaining same – best of all another sharp Lulu Wilson performance.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter for more film rambling.
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