PG-13 | | Action, Adventure, Comedy
Review - Matt Mungle
Now showing at AMC Mesquite 30 and DirecTV VOD
High School can be a tough transition. Even for a trained assassin. Barely Lethal throws an action packed punch at the adventure comedy genre in this teen spy flick.
Megan Walsh (Hailee Steinfeld) has been raised from a baby to be an elite undercover agent. An orphan whose only thing close to a parental unit is a hard nosed combat instructor (Samuel L. Jackson). Now that she is a teenager she longs for nothing more than the chance to just be normal. So she fakes her own death in order to sneak away and experience a life she has only seen in Teen Mags and popular movies. But she soon finds that no training could have prepared her for the craziness that is High School.
What appears at first glance to be a regurgitated teen comedy that you would fine in endless repeat on Nick at Night or Disney XD is actually a pretty fun film. It caters more to the older teens than the young tweens in the fact that is doesn't hold back with some of the humor and dialogue. Megan is a rouge agent with fists of fury and a heart that longs for a stolen adolescence. The film tackles all of the nuances of High School from bullying, cliches, crushes, and odd ball teachers.
Steinfeld handles the role the way Bond handles a firearm; with confidence, and expert timing. We have seen her handle mature scripts starting back in the True Grit remake. It obviously taught her to hold her own with seasoned actors like Jackson. The cast also includes solid character actors like Jessica Alba, Rachael Harris, Sophie Turner, and Thomas Mann. Mann does what he excels at. He is the really nice guy who dwells in the friend zone.
This film could possibly rank up there with the classics it references. like Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, Beverly Hills 90210. What makes this one unique is that it also combines some pretty solid action moments and a script that isn't afraid to push some envelopes. It mixes relevant pop culture with teen aged angst, It is instantly quotable and easily enjoyed. For the right audience. Those over 25 and not of the female persuasion may find it unreliable. But it isn't made for them so that is expected. The film balances High School elements with the spy world perfectly. One moment Walsh is trying to survive peer pressure and the next she is in a shoot out and car chase.
BARELY LETHAL is rated PG-13 on appeal for sexual material, teen drinking, language, drug references and some action violence. It is certainly for the older teens and those used to some of the more spicy dialogue. It is definitely a film that will surprise in the way it breaks out of the stereotypes of teenage comedies and gives something respectable. I give it 3.5 out of 5 drop kicks. Want to spice up your life a bit? Sponsor an exchange student is happens to be a kick butt assassin.