New Netflix film Lou puts a different spin on action thrillers, which normally feature a strong man as the potential hero. Sure, sometimes he has a female partner/co-worker (for example, Cobie Smulders fought and ran alongside Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back), but most of the time, the man is the main character and savior.
Not only are the two main characters played by women, the script was co-written by Maggie Cohn, who also wrote episodes of The Staircase. And the director is Anna Foerster (Westworld, Carnival Row), so we have a film and characters created by women.
With Lou, we are given a strong, albeit flawed title character, who is played by Allison Janney. Janney is one of the most diverse actors currently working, and can play comedy and drama equally well. She played Bonnie in the series Mom, she played Tonya Harding’s abusive mother LaVona in I, Tonya and she was Press Secretary C.J. Cregg in The West Wing…and that’s just a small handful of her work.
In true action-thriller form, she does have a sidekick, in this case a single mother named Hannah (Jurnee Smollett of Lovecraft Country and Birds of Prey), who is hiding out from her abusive husband.
Lou herself is not a pleasant woman. She lives a solitary life with her dog, and doesn’t really practice any social graces. It’s clear she has a troubled past, and at the beginning of the film, she is suicidal. That changes however, when her tenant Hannah shows up at her door frantic and begging for her help. There is a serious storm raging outside, and someone got into her house and kidnapped her little girl Vee (Ridley Asha Bateman).
Hannah tells Lou that it’s her daughter’s father who took her, and she is right about that. We see Philip (Logan Marshall-Green) with Vee throughout the rest of the movie as he leads Hannah and Lou on a dangerous trek through the woods. Of course, there is a big secret waiting to be revealed, but we get plenty of action along the way.
Lou does not hold back when it comes to brutal violence.
First, they track down Philip’s accomplices, who Lou takes on by herself. They think she is just an old lady looking for her dog, but as it turns out, she is very capable of taking care of herself in all possible ways.
Allison Janney gives a stellar performance here, and she handles the multiple fight scenes like a pro. Smollett is also strong, and she makes us feel the trauma that Hannah has experienced over the years. She is just a mother willing to risk her own life to save her child.
Although Lou has plenty of bloody action (seriously, there are some pretty gnarly injuries), it also has tons of heart, and that’s mostly due to the two stars of the show. And, by the way, Bateman is great as Vee as well.
I really enjoyed this film, and I hope we will see more films like this in the future. I like to see Tom Cruise in action just as much as the next filmgoer, but watching Allison Janney in action was fantastic.
Have you watched Lou? Do you think Allison Janney put a great spin on action-thriller heroes? Tell us what you think in the comments section.