Millicent Shelton’s End of the Road is yet another baffling Netflix movie. While its lead performances can elevate the final product, it still isn’t enough to save the film from being another generic action thriller. Queen Latifah leads the picture as Brenda, a single mother who moves to Houston, Texas, with her kids (Mychala Lee & Shaun Dixon) and brother (Chris Bridges, also known as Ludacris). At a motel, the family hears gunshots and witnesses a man dying in front of their eyes. While they attempt to save his life, Reggie (Bridges) sees a bag full of money and takes it.
Reggie doesn’t know that the bag full of money belongs to a crime lord named Mr. Cross, a dangerous criminal who will stop at nothing to get his property back. So Cross kidnaps Cam (Dixon) and leads Brenda in a cat-and-mouse game with the kidnapper. Meanwhile, Reggie and Kelly (Lee) enlist the help of Sherriff Hammers (Beau Bridges) to find Brenda before Mr. Cross finds him, but things may be more complicated than they seem.
End of the Road | Official Netflix Trailer
By then, you’re probably able to determine how End of the Road will conclude. There’s nothing duller than knowing everything is coming a mile away, though there is one midpoint twist that I never saw coming but made the movie infinitely worse. Without spoiling anything, it made no sense within the story’s context and what came before and turned End of the Road from an incredibly formulaic Taken-esque thriller to a gonzo midnight actioner. Usually, that tonal shift would’ve been appreciated, and I would’ve been entirely on board with it. However, since the plot twist makes no damn sense and defies all forms of logic, everything feels weird.
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Admittedly, there are a few aesthetic flourishes near the end that lean into gore and maximalist action, which is something I never expected from a movie like this. Still, its shift in tone and atmosphere felt like it happened too little, too late. Even if End of the Road fully embraces its R-rating, none of the action scenes are good.
The movie tries to dazzle with extended sequences set in locations with neon lightning. But it doesn’t take long for audiences to figure out that they’re a substitute for lifeless cinematography and poor action direction. Too many jump cuts and continuity errors hinder every action set piece. And the multiple tonal shifts are jarring and shift the movie way too many times for us to care.
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It’s a good thing that the acting is mostly good. I particularly enjoyed Frances Lee McCain, who portrays Hammers’ wife. Of course, the less you know about the character, the better, but her return to major motion picture filmmaking is highly memorable.
Latifah also brings a good amount of emotional levity to her performance, as committed as she is to saving her family as Liam Neeson was in Taken. Though her particular set of skills is more refined than in the Taken franchise, Latifah also grounds her character in reality, where the antagonists of End of the Road seem to belong in a completely different Grindhouse picture.
It’s also the first time since Hustle & Flow that I took Ludacris (credited here as Chris Bridges) as a serious actor. He is fun to watch in the Fast & Furious movies, but his character is silly, and his decisions are entirely inconsequential since all of Dom’s crew are Gods who can go to space in a car, and nothing of note happens.
Bridges give one of the best performances of his career by playing his character as purely human, flawed, who knows that the trouble he put his family into was of his own doing and consistently tries to make up for his mistakes. It’s a refreshing change of pace for most characters who make dumb decisions and never do anything to rectify those decisions.
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It’s just a shame that the rest of the movie was already done before in better action thrillers. There’s nothing new and exciting that director Millicent Shelton showcases in End of the Road. Ultimately, it’ll be remembered as yet another addition to the ever-growing Netflix algorithm, specifically designed to be viewed in the background while you perform your daily tasks instead of exploiting the talents of its stars for an actively entertaining movie that keeps audience members on their toes. If you’re looking for something more engaging, you’re better off watching Taken (even though it’s not that great of a movie, to begin with).
End of the Road is now available to stream on Netflix. What did you think of End of the Road? Let us know your thoughts over on our social media!
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