Brian Cox in "Prisoner's Daughter"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film ‘Prisoner’s Daughter’ review: Brian Cox continues playing troubled patriarchs in predictable romance drama

‘Prisoner’s Daughter’ review: Brian Cox continues playing troubled patriarchs in predictable romance drama

Brian Cox in "Prisoner's Daughter"

It’s nearly impossible for Brian Cox to be in a bad movie because, well, he gives a Brian Cox performance every time. Simply put, Cox is the saving grace of his latest feature, “Prisoner’s Daughter,” a predictable family drama that has heart thanks to the founding performances of Cox, Ernie Hudson, and rising star Christopher Convery. The rest, however, goes away Very to be desired.

However, there are still other pleasures to be found in the final product. Catherine Hardwicke (“Twilight,” “Thirteen”) is building the perfect frothy cinematic universe in which “Prisoner’s Daughter” and her recent Toni Collette vehicle “Mafia Mamma” could coexist beautifully – and create a fun wild ride.

Hardwicke previously spoke to IndieWire’s Kate Erbland about her tastes in choosing scripts, and “Prisoner’s Daughter” is no exception. Written by Mark Bacci and premiering at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, the family drama centers on criminal Max (Cox) who is released from prison after a 12-year sentence due to a different life sentence: he has only five months to live, thanks to a brutal cancer diagnosis.

Max moves in with his daughter Maxine (Kate Beckinsale) and his son Ezra (Convery), middle school age. She enters the adorably touching relationship between Max and Ezra, as the two bond over boxing and defeating schoolyard bullies who make fun of Ezra’s epilepsy. The onscreen chemistry between Cox and Convery is the crux of the film; scenes flounder when Beckinsale and Cox share the screen, while each sequence exclusively featuring Beckinsale stands on its own.

Basically, it’s hard to compare to Cox’s acting prowess in his post-“Succession” glory. Yet, Convery still commands.

In every millennial’s dream casting, All-American Rejects’ Tyson Ritter (and, you know, a wide-ranging acting career that begins with “The House Bunny” and includes Hardwicke’s “Miss You Already”) plays the deadbeat father of Ezra, Tyler, who’s better at playing drums and doing drugs than parenting. The central conflict – which comes too late in the script – is between Tyler and Max fighting over who should be the rightful male influence for Ezra.

Ernie Hudson as Max’s confidant, a boxing gym owner and, later, Ezra’s mentor, demonstrates why the older generation on screen are better actors. “Castle” and “This Is Us” actor Jon Huertas has a notable cameo, but it’s Hudson and Cox who educate their counterparts with their breezy performances. And we mean effortlessly: Cox dons a fedora and dons stylish sunglasses as he manages to free himself from the handcuffs in a subsequent bungle.

“The Prisoner’s Daughter”Courtesy of Vertical Entertainme

Cox as ex-criminal and sleazy Vegas networker Max is essentially “what if Logan Roy really goes to jail over SEC cruise ship scandal?” “Your dad,” Max tells nephew Ezra, “is … a loser,” and the joke carries as much gravitas as the hit quote from last season’s “Succession” about his kids not being “serious.” .

Admittedly, a grandfather teaching his grandson how to box is quite a cliché. But would Logan Roy do the same to Shiv’s future son? Is this the trajectory Logan Roy would follow in a different “Succesion” universe: be a better, kinder grandfather than his father?

The prisoner's daughter
“The Prisoner’s Daughter”Courtesy of Vertical Entertainme

“Prisoner’s Daughter” doesn’t dive as deeply into the father-daughter relationship that the title teases, and neither is Maxine the main character of this story. It’s hard to deduce whether this is due to the plot itself or simply the way audiences will immediately pay more attention to the charismatic Cox than Beckinsale’s decent, but not entirely memorable, performance.

During a particularly emotional exchange in which Maxine confronts her father for abandoning her with an abusive alcoholic and suicidal mother, Beckinsale stumbles with the necessary conviction, while Cox throws dialect paragraphs in a single glance. And while the film’s conclusion feels rushed, the sacrifices Max has made don’t go unnoticed. Too bad it will most likely be this movie.

Assessment: c

“Prisoner’s Daughter” will premiere June 30 in the halls of Vertical Entertainment.

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