Don’t Let Go’s a potent premise, impotently told.
“How do we shoehorn in some sci-fi to de-rotify the investigative procedural narrative-structure it unfolds according to” (there’s an interconnected wall-collage diagram and everything!) — AKA the easiest way to flesh-out an idea into a story. A renegade cop, on grief leave, out for justice, overcoming pushback from his superiors — who tell him to leave it alone! Take some time off! Reeeeelaaaaax! Almost like they have something to hide? You’ll never guess! —may have uncovered a massive conspiracy…or is his despondency tainting his judgement, making him lose his mind??? The supernatural wrench intended to shake-up this “detective” formula is more of a mere stir than a full shake, and we all know that’s not how cinematic drinks are ordered on the big screen.
All this, despite the under-matched David Oyelowo, Alfred Molina, Bubba Gump, and Brian Tyree Henry — who either A) ended up on the cutting room floor, B) agreed to the role before hitting it big, when he was still in the up-and-comer “blanket yes to EVERYTHING” mode, or C) owed one of the filmmakers a favor / is a good friend of theirs.
The movie’s subtlest touch (not saying much) is also its strangest: the sci fi conceit is never explicitly explained. Rather, it’s suggested that…Jesus is to thank? (Note: it’s subtle only compared to the usual polemics of faith-based cinema). A few lines mention that he prayed for the tragedy to be undone, which is exactly what the time-portal phone calls allows. But this dialogue is treated more like asides, not with the same spotlight usually showered upon depicted Miracles.
Speaking of spotlights: the religiosity comes through stronger on the visual spectrum. When Oyelowo first pieces together what’s happening, the camera lifts to the heavens as he’s bathed in heavenly (night)light, traveling to the plane of existence “that’s” — or, is it “WHO’S” — to thank for his second chance. Oh, and during which, he’s resting on a pole adorned with…A CROSS! Almost like, if you lean on God, he’ll be your savior!!! And the angelic illumination returns for the very last shot. After everyone’s been saved, the camera once again peers up to the skies, reminding us who’s ultimately always responsible for our happy endings. Fade to whiteout. Title card. End credits.