Let Him Go (3 stars)

Let Him Go

Kevin Costner and Diane Lane face off against Lesley Manville in a compelling, western-esque thriller

Harking back to his days of perpetual heroics, Kevin Costner's latest role serves as a reminder of his action chops, even if he has to be dragged along on this particular rescue mission. Costner stars as a former sheriff, pressed into action by his worried wife, with the pair out to retrieve their three-year-old grandson from the family from hell. With some appealingly economical storytelling and bags of emotional thrust, this tense, western-esque thriller has plenty to recommend it, not least the contributions of Diane Lane and Lesley Manville, as two differently formidable and forthright women.

Known to a younger generation as Superman's parents, Lane and Costner make a handsome couple once again. They play Margaret and George Blackledge, ranchers who lose their adult son James (Ryan Bruce) in a riding accident at the outset, relayed in near-wordless domestic scenes, first of happiness then devastation.

When James's widow Lorna (Kayli Carter) marries again, her second husband Donnie Weboy (Will Brittain) is transparently bad news, something that's confirmed when Margaret witnesses him beating her grandson Jimmy, and her former daughter-in-law. The young family then take off with no warning, causing Margaret to fear for Jimmy's safety and she resolves to extract him from the clutches of the dangerous, North Dakota-based Weboy clan, who are headed up by Jeffrey Donovan's Bill and, more concerningly, Manville's Blanche.

As they set off on what will inevitably be a disastrous trip, the scenes where we're allowed to luxuriate in the Blackledges' well-worn but loving relationship are appealing; we watch them tuck into cake on their journey and sit in companionable silence, before getting out of their depth with the fearsome Weboys. It's clear that George slightly resents his bull-headed wife's whims, but she's still the woman for him.

The central conceit has real pull, the scenery looks spectacular, and there's at least some grandeur to writer-director Thomas Bezucha's execution (he's adapting Larry Watson's novel). However, the film is much stronger in its quiet moments, when it tells its story in agonised looks and gritted teeth. Although lent conviction by a fine cast, the script is a bit overloaded with attempts at wisdom. Perhaps most interestingly for UK audiences, in the role of the Animal Kingdom-like crime family matriarch, it's enjoyable and unexpected to see Manville – hers is not quite up there with Jacki Weaver's turn in that masterful movie, but she's plenty hissable nonetheless.

Available to watch in cinemas from Fri 18 Dec.

Let Him Go

  • 3 stars
  • 2020
  • US
  • 1h 54min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Thomas Bezucha
  • Cast: Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Lesley Manville

A retired sheriff and his wife, grieving over the death of their son, set out to find their only grandson.