March 24, 2023 / Vortex Media
Brandon Victor Dixon, Naturi Naughton, Jeremiah King, Orlando Jones
The financial director of a Super PAC behind a leading presidential candidate finds unusual patterns in donations. They follow the money trail back to its evil origins in a race to uncover the truth before the presidential primaries.
Written By Darren
Rating 2 out of 5
88 strives to be a riveting political thriller and while it touches on many social issues relevant in today’s world, it never gets off the ground due to a screenplay that fails to energize its material.
Decades old conspiracy. Political donations. Social injustice. Racism. These are just many elements that make up the story for 88. It’s clear that the writer director Eromose is trying to evoke the old school Hollywood political thriller, but the pieces never fall into place to create the riveting drama it strives to be.
Femi Jackson is a financial director for a democratic super PAC who discovers an inconsistency in donations made to a presidential candidate’s campaign. As Femi begins to dig into the donations, he discovers a far larger conspiracy with sinister origins that could destroy the campaign.
There is no denying that the story for 88 has the right elements to create a good thriller, deploying many story elements that have been successfully used by previous thrillers. Some of them are more standard, such as political cover ups and race issues, while others are used for shock value, being the main crux of the origins of the conspiracy theory. There are rich ideas to be explored, especially given the overdramatic nature of the election process in the United States and the fight for control, but the film cannot convey them in a meaningful way. The funding principles for these campaigns and the technical nature is explained, but not in a way that is accessible to someone who is not overly familiar with the United States election process, leaving the film lost in the details with the ideas not being fully formed until it is too late.
Once the conspiracy is revealed, it is a fascinating direction for the story and it will have you thinking about what the right thing to do in this scenario is with this information. This sets up the ending of the film to pose ethical and moral questions, but given the lackluster build up to this moment and how quickly everything is revealed in the final act, there is not enough time for the moral and ethical questions to sit with the audience to create true discourse around it. There is no doubt that Emorose is not raising important questions and issues, but the execution fails to let them have the dramatic weight they require to have an impact on viewers.
Performance wise, the film has some notable names such as Brandon Victor Dixon, William Fichtner, Orlando Jones, Kelly McCreary, Thomas Sadoski, and Naturi Naughton. All of them are fine in their roles, there is no bad performance to be found in the film. However, as the screenplay fails to energize the exciting plot elements, the script does the same to the cast. They all do exactly what is required of them, but they are not given the material to work with to truly elevate their performances.
Despite the interesting direction the story takes and the thought provoking moral and ethical questions that are posed by the screenplay, 88 does not live up to the thrills promised by this thriller due to the muddled execution of the plot points that makes for a rather forgettable watch.