Playing with Fire (2019) – Comedy, Family
I freely admit that for the first 45 minutes of this film, I thought it was shockingly bad, the human was forced, the characters unlikeable and the situation was daft. I very nearly gave up on it. And then came the second half of the film and it turned it all around for me.
The storyline is simple, John Cena’s Jake Carson runs a misfit team of Smoke Jumpers and he is a by the book focused leader who is going for the top job in the district and is going to be evaluated by President David Palmer himself Dennis Haysbert, Keegan-Michael Key is his second in command and annoying as you like. John Leguizamo is the irritating pilot and scardy cat and the team is filled out by Tyler Mane’s silent and psycho-eyed Axe. Judy Greer plays environmentalist scientist Dr Amy and Brianne Hildebrand is the big sister to two irritatingly annoyingly younger siblings including a three-year old they keep calling a baby and who is directed to behave like an infant/toddler, instead of a young child. These children are rescued by the smoke jumpers, have to stay with them for a few days and hilarity ensues.
I will say this again the first half is bad! However the second half finds it stride, Keegan-Michael Key and John Leguizamo stop being annoying and bring some tenderness and fun to their characters, Judy Greer is given a bit more to do and she is a great actress, John Cena finds his feet, taking on both the by the book attitude and that of a melting hard man. Brianne Hildebrand, who I had double check was actually Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Deadpool – she looks so different, stops playing the role as a cow and brings the big sisters care and fear to her character, she is a fine actress and hopefully will develop into a great one, the humour improves, the story fits together and it ends up as a film with a big heart. Tyler Mane has some of the best comedy moments and his relationship with the youngest child is brilliant!
I will say this again, the second half of the film is very good. I went from really disliking it to it being a film I can see myself watching time and time again because I am a softy when it comes to films with a heart. The first half gets a 4/20 from me but the second half a 14/20. Read into that what you will for the final score!