‘Message from the King’ is on the surface, a typical and generic revenge action thriller. However the film has many flairs that help it to stand out in the slew of revenge thrillers released every year. Chadwick Boseman plays Jacob King, a man from Cape Town, South Africa, who journeys to Los Angeles, California as his sister has gone missing and he will do anything to find her.
The film starts with very little exposition, the audience is told something has happened to the protagonist’s sister, and then in the next scene the protagonist, Jacob King, is in Los Angeles tracking her down. This makes for a more unique intro to a revenge film as instead of ten to fifteen minutes of exposition and character establishing, the film starts immediately and provides the exposition along the way.
This sets the pace for the film as every scene jumps from one to another, making the film feel frantic but this is not always to the benefit of the film. The over-editing of the scenes, making a character jump from one location to another takes away a lot of the tension of the actual scenes themselves. In fact, ‘Message from the King’’s biggest problem is over-editing. The fight scenes in particular are an overly edited mess with no cohesion to them and very little clarity, which is a true shame because the small scenes that are shown without the erratic editing are brutal, ferocious, and exhilarating.
Chadwick Boseman truly shines in this role, his accent is a bit iffy at times but his facial expressions and the look in his eyes allow any accent missteps to be forgiven. The believability he brings to this film is one of the things that make this film stand out from others of its ilk. The rest of the cast are all very good in their roles, although Luke Evans really excels in his role, though no one outshines Boseman.
The story is generic and derivative of the genre, but it throws in some interesting and rather unique moments that help the film stand out. The dialogue is realistic yet still entertaining, and delivered with absolute charm by Boseman, whom seems to be having an excellent time making the film, and that comes through in the film just making it a joy to watch.
If this film were to be put into the hands of a more competent director and editor, it would constantly be mentioned besides the likes of ‘Taken’, ‘John Wick’, and ‘Kill Bill’ as must-see genre favourites. Quite frankly, this film deserved better than the technical team it was given, which is a real shame because behind all the quick cuts and scene skipping is a really fun, solid revenge film. Also, ‘Message from the King’ is an absolutely phenomenal title for a film and immediately helps it stand out, its instantly gripping.