30 October 2019 | TheLittleSongbird
This is a getaway, not a vacation
There are examples of entertaining road movies out there, the balancing of comedy and heart can be hard and meandering is a danger but with a mix of funny and emotional moments, characters worth caring for and a good cast they can work. The trailer did seem sort of amusing, though predictability was a worry. And such a great actor like Jeremy Irons, who also produced, is reason enough to see any film or project regardless of how the overall product turns out.
Do think that it is better than the not so good reviews suggest, but am in accordance with the mixed rating here. Being somebody who was very mixed on 'Better Start Running' when seeing it on Prime. Not an awful film, it has its moments and it has good things. Don't think it entirely worked though as for me there were problems with it and quite big ones. 'Better Start Running' did have a lot of good intentions and it is hard to not admire that.
'Better Start Running' is carried by most of the cast. Alex Sharp, though he does overdo the accent, and especially Analeigh Tipton are appealing leads, where one can really see their chemistry, which was very sweet and natural, and care for one another. Edi Gathegi does a nice enough job with what he was given. Although there is no bias intended (he hasn't been exempt from bad performances, 'Dungeons and Dragons' was hamminess taken to a whole new level and he has been deserving of better material for a while now), Irons shines best of all as an old foul-mouthed grump with a heart although he does try too hard with the accent. He is especially good in the outcome of his subplot, his hurt and anger without saying a word being a great representation of what makes him so great an actor.
It's a film that has some amusing moments, sometimes of the dark kind, the best lines coming from Garrison. It is very sweet without falling into mawkishness, like the chemistry between Sharp and Tipton. It is touching at times, like Garrison's subplot, which is the story element with the most depth by far and is actually a bit of a tear-jerker (the scene between Irons and Seymour is beautifully done), and how he takes the disappointment. It does have warmth and could see that it had its heart in the right place. It's nicely and slickly filmed and the scenery is attractive, especially in the closing moments which are quite idyllic. The soundtrack doesn't go over-the-top or sound inappropriate, it is not the kind of soundtrack that sticks in the mind forever but it at least fitted and didn't over-spell out the characters' emotions that much.
Sadly, 'Better Start Running' did have its faults for me. The pace can be rather dull, the early portion of the film (meaning up until the getaway started, so pretty much everything involving Stephanie's workplace) was set up that took far too long to get going, saved from unwatchability by the moments between Harley and Garrison. Actually came close to bailing but never try to do that with films. Luckily it does pick up and is never incoherent but still has meandering moments where there are too many parts that don't go very far. Didn't find myself bored or annoyed by the main characters, although Harley incriminating himself in a phone call was pure stupidity, but the only one of them and of the entire film to have any depth is Garrison.
Jane Seymour is lovely as ever but has far too little to do other than being a cameo plot device in one character's subplot. Worst of all of the cast however are Chad Faust and especially Maria Bello. Faust's sleazeball act is so over-the-top that it is enough to make one not care for how the outcome was going to turn out. Bello plays the most cartoonish FBI agent of any film seen recently in a long time and it gets worse and worse with every minute of her screen time. There are some clumsy moments in the script, not just in the early portions but that scene between Harley and Garrison around two thirds of the way through was a big example of this, for all Irons' very deeply felt and intense acting in that scene one just cannot believe how anybody could speak to their own grandson in that way for no reason. Don't know about anybody else, but the ending felt too pat and abrupt.
In summary, a bit of a mixed bag. 5/10