Barely Lethal Review

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Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Alba and teenage assassins - what's not to like?

by CA Milbrandt Aug 27, 2015 at 8:03 AM

  • Movies review

    Barely Lethal Review

    If I could give Barely Lethal 7.5 stars, I would.

    Star of the film, Hailee Steinfeld holds her own, but the notable names are Samuel L. Jackson (Director Hardman of the girls assassin school ‘Prescott’) and Jessica Alba (Victoria Knox, an ex-Prescott, rogue arms dealer.) Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones) also manages an American accent with relative ease (it’s the ‘r’s’ that get the Brits, the vowels that hinder the Americans... everybody’s working on it, alright?). Dove Cameron’s character, Liz Larson, was a spot-on casting choice for the pretty yet angsty teen with a sarcastic streak, along with her on-screen, quirky mother, Rachel Harris as Mrs Larson. Make no mistake, this is a teenage movie, and with that come certain expectations
    The standout element of the film had to be John D’Arco’s punny humour. A bit serious at the beginning, the jokes really start rolling when Megan (Steinfeld) fakes her own death to forfeit being a child-assassin and works her way into biology class as a Canadian foreign exchange student in Newton, USA. There she meets fellow classmate, Roger (Thomas Mann), who’s a bit of a geek, but witty and welcoming. While dissecting frogs, Roger mentions to Megan their teacher can be rough on students. As if on cue, the teacher addresses Megan, to which Roger says, “Toad you so.” It’s a moment of purely geeky satisfaction, you know... for those who, uh, like that sort of thing.

    Barely Lethal
    The film is full of relatable high school humour like the above example. Megan deduces a great deal from films referenced like Mean Girls and Bring It On. Steve-O, of MTV fame, makes an appearance as Pedro, assisting Hardman in interrogating Megan after she is found. At first keen to use torture methods, he then makes a 180 after Megan has a minor teenage breakdown, explaining to Hardman just how volatile adolescence can be for young women... an oddly accurate observance for someone famous for starring in a series by the name of ‘Jackass'.

    Also enter high school heartthrob, Cash (Toby Sebastian), an iTunes bonavide, high school rocker. Romance ensues briefly, but can he match puns?

    “How’s the cheese?”
    “It’s gouda.”
    “...I think you mean ‘good’.”

    Sadly, the answer is no. As is ever the case, the ‘hottie with the body’ does not have the intellectual prowess to equal the heroine’s. But lucky for her, it’s never too late to follow your heart. (Aww.)

    Dodgy titles aside, the film is unusual in having both protagonist and antagonist as female leads.

    Clearly directed at females and a small triumph against the blockbuster comic/superhero films, Barely Lethal combines the confusion of adolescence, giggle-worthy humour, and some sweet martial arts fight scenes to form an entertaining film I would feel comfortable allowing a teen to watch. The film does feature some sexual references and bad language, but it’s nothing as rude as last week’s Vacation. Its references to high school films of the past help make it relevant and nostalgic at the same time, and it exceeds expectations on feminist accounts, displaying both protagonist and antagonists as female leads, all with healthy doses of depth.

    A sure fire winner with the teenage crowd.

    The Rundown

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