THUNDER FORCE – Review by Martha K Baker

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The problem with Thunder Force is that it’s unnecessarily complex. Two fine actors — Melissa McCarthy and Olivia Spencer — expend breathless monologues to explain the plot design, and, still they do not succeed to make it plausible or even fantastic enough for awe. So, bottom line, the problem is Ben Falcone.

Falcone, McCarthy’s husband, wrote and directed Thunder Force. He also directed his wife in “The Boss” and the recent “Superintelligence.” He often plays bit roles in his-and-her films. But he has never found a smooth path to plotting in his writing. Still, for “Thunder Force,” he can be credited with crafting roles for women that are super, just super.

Inject serum or take pills, and these two women become strong like ox. Strong enough to toss a bus — a maxi bus. The minute that the idea is pooh-poohed you know it is going to be produced. No surprises here. Nor is there a surprise that two childhood friends, long estranged, will make it back to each other’s graces. Sort of.

The first tedious scenes are of the superwomen’s girlhood. Lydia, “the Hammer” (McCarthy), and Emily, “Bingo” (Spencer), grew up together, with Lydia protecting the studywart Emily. She’s not a nerd, she says with thunder force: she’s smart (another nod to feminist Falcone et al.). Ditto her daughter, Tracy (Taylor Mosby). Together, the three have to become super heroines to fight the Miscreants, embodied by a woman named Laser (Pom Klementieff).

Also in the cast are a completely wasted Melissa Leo as an executive, Bobby Cannavale as a thug with Matt Gaetz hair, and Falcone as a forgettable character. Best of all, however, the supporting cast includes Jason Bateman as The Crab. He lightens the whole atmosphere and manages to make good comedy out of having crab claws for hands.

There are funny moments such as the physical shtick of two hefty women insinuating themselves into and extruding themselves out of a little purple Lamborghini. There are moral moments. But the whole of “Thunder Force” barely packs a punch, and that’s a problem.

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Martha K. Baker

Martha K. Baker

I first taught film at Lakeland College in Wisconsin in 1969 and became a professional film reviewer in 1976 in St. Louis, Mo. Through the years, I have reviewed films for the St. Louis Business Journal, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Episcopal Life, and KWMU (NPR), among other outlets. I've reviewed at KDHX radio, my current outlet, for nearly 20 years.