Sheroes arrives in theaters and on digital June 23 from Paramount Movies.
Filmmaker Jordan Gertner bears a resumè largely consisting of producing credits that date back to the late nineties. His efforts as such on director Harmony Korine’s 2012 movie, Spring Breakers, comes part of the marketing package nowadays with Gertner making his debut of late with action adventure thriller, Sheroes.
Leading the cast is a roster of actresses with notable social media followings in the millions, including model and actress Sasha Luss, the face of Luc Besson’s sultry spy thriller, Anna. Rounding out the quartet of Gertner’s female-fronted action adventure is Orphan franchise star Isabelle Fuhrman, Wallis Day of Netflix series “Sex/Life” and CW series “Batwoman” fame, and recurring Disney talent, actress and voice-over star Skai Jackson.
Gertner directs from his own script, in addition to sharing the familiar producers’ hat on the pic. Among the list of nearly a dozen producers and executive producers is none other than Wych Kaosayananda, the director behind films of late like The Driver and Once Upon A Time In Bangkok. Kaosayananda, who has established himself amply in the region long since his transient breakout with 2002’s Warner Bros. release, Ballistic: Ecks VS. Sever, also serves as director of photography.
For all intents and purposes given the above, a film like Sheroes could do well to serve up an otherwise satisfying action thriller given the right script. Writing duties here go to Gertner, however, and with a script that albeit takes off into the hilariously self-aware with a series of intros to our main characters: Diamond (Luss), the daughter of an unnamed movie star; Daisy (Jackson), who works at a snobbish gallery selling overpriced
jokes works of “art”; Ezra (Fuhrman), an exasperated film actress working on a TV show; and blue-haired Ryder, a skater girl coping with her share of male chauvinism at the skatepark.
The story takes off as all four thick-as-thieves friends take a much-needed getaway trip to Thailand on Diamond’s father’s private jet, flown by handsome beefcake pilot Jasper (Jack Kesy). The plane finally lands after a spell of bumpy weather and the girls arrive at a massive villa – also owned by Diamond’s father – just before getting ready for a night on the town with a checklist of things they all have in mind, whether it’s food and drink, sex or drugs, and not necessarily in that order.
As the night reaches a fever pitch, it isn’t long before three of the girls end up looking for Daisy, only to find her in a dark alley attempting to score some blow with two dicey thugs. This incident ends rather prospectively for the girls who manage to get back to the villa in one piece despite nearly ending up as statistics; there’s actually a moment at the top of this chapter where Ezra uses a movie reference to warn the coke-eager Daisy about the dangers of doing such a thing in a foreign country. As Gertner’s script will have you mindful about going forward, the film nods don’t end here.
The film suddenly descends into a myopic tread into the regressive when Ryder and the girls discover that her bag has been mysteriously mixed up with a similar-looking bag now in their possession. What’s in the bag? The answer – and you’re welcome to read this in the voice of Keanu Reeves if it helps you get through this – is “coke… lots of coke”. And what do Ryder and the girls do after a brief moment of panic? Well, they snort the coke.
Alas, color the girls aghast and verklempt when morning arrives and they find out that whatever plans they had for the day will need shelving, thanks to Daisy’s overnight kidnapping, and a blaring note on her mirror demanding the drugs back in exchange for Daisy’s safe return.
Clearly way in over their heads, our three wayward heroines-to-be must now put their resources to use to help track down Daisy and get home, although fret not! Diamond, whose experience in rescue ops apparently boil down to having grown up with her father on his movie sets – in addition to watching a lot of movies herself and playing with her father’s massive gun collection, has precisely all the knowledge and acumen of an elite special forces operative, thus qualifying her as leader of this makeshift squad of would-be A-Teamers, casting herself as “the brains,” Ryder as “the body,” and Ezra as “the bimbo.”
We’ll get back to this bit a little later, but I won’t bother you with a further rehashing of too many of the film’s events. There are some plusses to Gertner’s efforts here, however, including decent location shots and cinematography – stylish at times, and presentable acting by our cast are a few plusses to start with, and Kesy and Luss share a steamy respite romance, topped off with some intrigue and mystery to the former’s role.
Other sidebar developments feature some queer romance and drama with two of our leads, and a test of friendship between Ezra and Diamond following an almost jocular revelation earlier on in the film’s first act. Luss and Fuhrman are requisite eye candy of the film’s plot progression whereas Day is placed squarely as the more suited pugilist in an illegal underground fight arena. That scene is just one of several in the film leading up to an explosive third-act action sequence as Diamond, Ryder and Ezra move in to rescue Daisy, topped off with some gunplay and grenade action, fisticuffs with Ryder toe-to-toe with other henchmen, and a face-to-face between Diamond and a drug boss, played by Sahajak Boonthanakit.
These are all workable ingredients for what should have been an otherwise tolerable film. Instead, it all gets undercut by lazy writing, and a lack of congruency and reason to care. Underlining these is the fact for all of Diamond’s expert-level all-knowing daughter-of-a-rich-movie-star wisdom, its hard to take Sheroes seriously after the first twenty-two minutes.
Diamond is Gertner’s girlpower-centric answer to Hannibal Smith by way of Austin O’Brien’s Last Action Hero character Danny Madigan, minus the pre-pubescent fervor. She’s got the sex-drive of a certain protagonist from a particular Luc Besson-directed 2019 film, as well as the specific drink preference of an Ian Fleming creation to boot. Funny. Additionally, her father’s panic room(s) comes decked out with enough weapons technology in all of her father’s homes to pull off some of their own Ethan Hunt-levels of shenanigans, and apparently there’s a sob story to all this affluence, which is equally laughable in the aftermath.
Even more audacious than all of this is the moment when Ezra answers a call they expect to be Daisy’s kidnappers. Not only do we know if it’s in fact the kidnappers, but Diamond’s first point of strategy is one pulled right out of Team America: World Police, when she has Ezra act out Liam Neeson’s indelible line from 2008’s Taken as a means of threatening (who we think are) the kidnappers. This, to which an elated Ryder – after struggling twice to remind Diamond in one form of another of the very uncinematic reality of their situation – shouts “…That was fucking awesome!”
Not to mention some of the film’s more minor yet noticeable flaws such as green screens, and one poorly stacked punch aimed at the face. Adding further insult to Sheroic injury is a screen villain who has plenty of the known world’s energy to engage in a high-speed chase after getting bitten by his pet spiders, injected with venom for which there is no antidote. Jesus.
There’s more for sure, but I’m capping it off here with one of the most staggering things about Sheroes: The duffel bag mix-up at the top of the movie never gets explained. Following a key character twist when the subject is brought up later in the second half of the film, the blunder gets written off as a passable mystery never to be solved – a brazen plot hole that does absolutely zero favors for anyone trying to lend credence to a story full of otherwise completely avoidable calamity.
There are plenty of action movies today that fans can enjoy, shepherded by talented women in strong roles and stories that achieve on some level in places where Gertner’s debut falls short. Perfunctory, contrived, tepid and shallow by comparison with unearned fanservice to top it all off, there’s little to praise in, or admire about Sheroes, a summary fact made candidly clear by the aforementioned expletive-laden intros of our four leads. It signals a diminutive action movie that’s about as clever as spray-painting an “S” next to the word “Heroes” on a poster to promote a movie as ineffectual as this one, and thinking you ate. With any luck though, Gertner will be ready to direct his next film by the time Spotswoode calls him and lets him know that Gary is ready for his close-up.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.