Science Fiction is the perfect conduit for social commentary. From Star Trek to Get Out, placing a theme within heightened circumstances is a good way to make it more relatable and universal and easier to reach a wider audience. No Running, the directorial debut from Delmar Washington, sets its sights on this goal. While its aim is high, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.
The film starts well; Jaylen (Skylan Brooks) –a recent transplant from a city to a small-town America– attends a party with his love interest, Amira (Clark Backo). After a walk together to a lakeside dock, Amira disappears in a beam of bright white light, leaving Jaylen soaking wet and with an unbelievable story.
This is, of course, small-town America, so things proceed quickly and predictably. He ends up on the run with no real alibi, trying to clear his name by proving that aliens have been visiting the town for years. He’s not wrong, and comedy veteran Bill Engvall around as the crazy local who witnessed a similar abduction decades before.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t live up to its promise. There’s definitely a better film somewhere here, probably a few drafts or a rewrite away, but as is No Running doesn’t really do much with it and right when you think that something might be resolved, it ends. It just kind of… stops in place.
It’s a shame, too, because the premise has such potential, and the acts involved are all doing the best with the material they are given. Brooks, in particular, carries the film well as Jaylen, and Shane West’s turn as a racist-but-conflicted-about-it sheriff is well done, too. Ultimately though, there isn’t much else to make No Running stand out aside from one well-executed chase scene and a few performances that might make you excited for what the performers do next.
No Running is playing as part of Tribeca at Home for US audiences through June 23rd 2021. No Canadian release information is available at this time.
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