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Review: Thunder Force (2021)

Ben Falcone must be stopped at all costs.

Two movies that never fail to make me die of laughter are The Heat (2013) and Spy (2015). Both are action-comedies directed by Paul Feig and star Melissa McCarthy that proved again and again that she was a comedic force to be reckoned with. But in my opinion, McCarthy hasn’t hit that level of hilarity in years. Many of her comedies these days just don’t seem to measure up. I had hoped that the new superhero-comedy Thunder Force (2021) would be a turning point, but sadly, I was sorely mistaken. Not only does Thunder Force fail to reach the heights of McCarthy’s past movies, but it’s a mindlessly dull snoozefest that struggles from start to finish. It’s a big ol’ superzero.

Credit: / Netflix

Written and directed by Ben Falcone, Thunder Force tells the story of Lydia and Emily, two former best friends who live in a world terrorized by supervillains. When Emily develops the process to give superpowers to regular people, she and Lydia imbue themselves with fantastic abilities to become the first ever superhero team. As “Thunder Force,” the pair protect Chicago from the super-powered Miscreants and work to foil the scheme of a villain known as “The King.”

Right off the bat I knew that I was in for an excruciating time. The opening flashback is so unnecessarily repetitive and goes on for far too long. Seven minutes may not seem like a long time, but if it’s taking you that long to establish a premise so simple a five-year-old could follow it, you’ve done something wrong. To make matters worse, that glacial flashback was just a taste of things to come. Thunder Force moves at a snail’s pace, crudely stumbling from one lifeless scene to another. The movie spins its wheels for quite some time and never seems to have a firm grasp on what kind of story it wants to tell or what direction it wants to take. Seriously. It’s a solid 45 minutes into the movie before Lydia and Emily even suit up as superheroes, at which point you’ve more or less checked out of the movie already. Also, wouldn’t you expect in an action-comedy for there to be a considerable amount of both action and comedy? Well, don’t hold your breathe. Thunder Force is wildly boring and painfully unfunny. The lack of exciting scenes is confusing considering that’s one of the main draws of the superhero genre. It’s shocking, frankly. You can see the lazily-written jokes coming from a mile away and when they do hit, you’ll question why they were included in the first place. So many times a bland line will be said and you’re like, “wait, was that the movie’s attempt at a joke? That was weak.” Honestly, I’ve seen more conflict and hilarity in the comments section of Instagram.

I know she loves him, but McCarthy really needs to stop agreeing to work with her husband, Falcone. Does he not understand how talented his own wife is? They’ve now made five movies together and every single time he underutilizes her. Rather than tapping into her impressive skills and applying them to the movie (you know, like a director is supposed to?) he just lets McCarthy run loose and try every bit of improv that comes to mind whether or not it makes any sense, matches the movie’s tone, or is even funny. And then he keeps it in the movie! Falcone is the one responsible for failing McCarthy and letting her flatline throughout the entirety of Thunder Force. Also, does he hate her? Because Falcone always puts her in the most atrocious, ratty, wiggy wigs that aren’t doing this beautiful woman any favours. Sigh…Sometimes we need to tell Ben and Melissa “NO.”

Starring opposite McCarthy is Octavia Spencer who I’m saddened to say, turns in a performance that is equally as disappointing. The pair are very obviously phoning this one in. In fact, the entire cast, which also includes Jason Bateman, Melissa Leo, and Bobby Cannavale, seem throughly uninterested in the story that’s happening around them. Uh, I don’t blame them, by the way. It’s almost cringe-y to watch as you get the feeling that everyone is just trying to suffer through production and cash their Netflix paycheque. Seeing McCarthy and Spencer flounder in Thunder Force is such a shame because I’m a big fan of both of these wonderful actresses. They’re great! I believe that with a much stronger script and a more competent director, they could have churned out a superhero-comedy that people would have absolutely loved. The premise should have delivered gold but Thunder Force feels more like cheap aluminium. Sidenote, was anyone else bothered that no one even attempted a Chicago accent?

If you’re someone who has seen a shit ton of superhero-related media, there will be zero surprises for you in Thunder Force. You can predict where the flimsy story is going to go with ease. Ugh, this movie was just mindlessly dumb and not even in a way that was remotely enjoyable. I wanted to mute it so many times which is something I have never said when it comes to a Melissa McCarthy movie. Then again, Thunder Force hardly feels like a movie at all. Rather, it feels like the pilot to a bad superhero show that some channel like CBS would have tried to get greenlit in 2014. Remember that Vanessa Hudgens show, Powerless (2017)? That’s what Thunder Force feels like. I appreciate the idea to add more straight-up humour into the superhero genre, but sis, this was a swing and a miss. You know what, just go ahead and watch Mystery Men (1999). That really is the much better version of this movie.

At this point, I think I may need to steer clear of Ben Falcone movies from now on. I’ve been burned too many times in the past. Honestly, if McCarthy doesn’t get back to working with talented comedy directors again, I may need to avoid her movies as well. I can’t believe I just wrote that but you guys, Thunder Force was unbearable. I think the closest this superhero movie came close to actually being a superhero movie is when they played “Kiss From a Rose.” Yep. That’s how low on content this movie was.

Have you seen Thunder Force?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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