Message from the King (2016)

  • Time: 102 min
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Director: Fabrice Du Welz
  • Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Teresa Palmer, Luke Evans


After suddenly losing all contact with his younger sister, Jacob King arrives in Los Angeles determined to track her down. Trying to piece together her last known movements, King finds unsettling evidence of a life gone off the rails – drugs, sex and secrets in the sleazy underbelly of the City of Angels. Undeterred by warnings to go home, King proves to more than a match for the violence he is confronted with as he relentlessly pursues the truth about what happened to his sister.

One review

  • His name is King, but it may as well be Carter or Walker for like those protagonists in Get Carter and Point Blank, he is a man on a mission and that mission is revenge.

    “I have no intention of working or staying,” he tells the customs officers who wonder why this South African has come for a five-day stay in the City of Angels. Indeed, Jacob King has just arrived in Los Angeles with nothing but 600 dollars in his pocket and a blinkered determination to find estranged sister Bianca (Sibongile Mlambo), who recently left a worrying call for him. Checking into a cheap motel where he encounters Kelly (Teresa Palmer), who works as a prostitute in order to support herself and her young daughter, King immediately goes to work to solve the mystery of his sister’s disappearance.

    It doesn’t take King very long to discover that his sister got herself involved with some shady characters, including a husband who was a low-level drug dealer, a group of Eastern European thugs, a suave yet sinister dentist (Luke Evans), and a Hollywood producer (Alfred Molina) with decidedly unsavoury predilections and who happens to have Bianca’s young stepson in his custody. With the exception of Bianca’s husband, who one character surmises is probably lying in a ditch somewhere, all the characters are soon unsettled by King’s doggedness in uncovering their dirty little secrets as well as his prowess with a bicycle chain, the latter of which is well-demonstrated in several brutal fight scenes.

    Message from the King works very much like a procedural – King questions someone, gleans some information which leads him to the next person which starts the cycle all over again – yet never feels by-the-numbers. There’s a sly, insisting quality to the film that’s echoed in Vincent Cahay and Felix Penny’s score. Cinematographer Monica Lenczewska’s compositions recalls the stylish seediness of films like the aforementioned Get Carter and Point Blank as well as neo-noirs like Chinatown, Hardcore, and To Live and Die in L.A.

    More than anything, the entire affair is held together by Boseman, who continues to demonstrate why he is one of the most commanding and magnetic actors working today. The commonality shared by his performances in 42 (where he portrayed Jackie Robinson), Get On Up (where he channelled James Brown), and Captain America: Civil War (where he embodies the Black Panther) is his ability to hold one’s attention without ever seeking it. As King, he is quietly but cataclysmically fearsome, so single-minded in his task that not even Balkan gangsters or an attractive woman grinding against him will distract him from the purpose at hand. He may be a man of few words, but one knows well enough not to mess with the King.

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