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End of the Road (Action, Crime) (2022)


Director: Millicent Shelton

Writer: Christopher J. Moore, David Loughery

Stars: Queen Latifah, Ludacris, Mychala Lee, Shaun Dixon

Forced to relocate, a family travels through the desert to reach their intended destination. They witness a violent crime, which leads to hostile pushback and racial tension with the locals.

With her second-ever feature film, Millicent Shelton takes viewers on a straightforward drive with sudden swerves. Between this and her debut film is a twenty-three-year stretch that feature was coincidentally called "Ride". Apart from that, she also directed episodes for widely-known TV Series such as "The Walking Dead", "The Flash", "Ballers", and "Black-ish" among many others. "End of the Road" was filmed in New Mexico and was produced by Twisted Pictures, 42, Serendipity Productions, Edmonds Entertainment and Flavor Unit Entertainment while being distributed on Netflix.

Due to an unfortunate passing, Brenda Freeman (Queen Latifah), her brother Reggie (Ludacris) and children Kelly (Mychala Lee) and Cam (Shaun Dixon) are without options, being necessitated to move to family over in Houston. During their long road trip between Los Angeles and Texas, belligerent rednecks taunt them into provocation. Yet this unfortunate incident proves to be the worst of their worries. Soon, they find themselves in a stretch of Arizona desert where the locals are even more inhospitable and dangerous.

End of the Road (2022) - Movie ReviewShowing a family, clearly down on their luck, forced to move due to the passing of a loved one. Shelton's feature beams promise, even if it's hard to tell which direction it'll take at first. She shows an unkind environment to those of colour and does so in the form of a thriller-esque crime action flick.

From a vibrant Los Angeles neighbourhood to the remote roads of the Arizona desert, the family's Chevrolet becomes an idealistic centrepiece in a pale and unevolved social hierarchy. Within only a fraction of time, archetypes are clearly and boldly defined; Latifah's Brenda is a military brat who knows when to stand her ground and when to avoid conflict, sucking up her own definition of what is morally right. Her brother and uncle to the children could be described as the opposite, a goofy pothead cutting corners wherever possible. It's a turbulent ride vastly disparate from the initial presentation, and it revels in its self-imposed "unique" qualities. However, it's far from being as savvy as "They Cloned Tyrone," which knew exactly what it wanted and needed to be for all audiences.

End of the Road (2022) - IMDbThat pop of colour presented throughout shines brightest at the onset, when Latifah's Brenda sheds a final tear, reliving past memories in a now-empty house that Dixon's Cam refuses to leave. On the road at last, familial ties are strained and able to be moulded into a compelling drama by the remainder of the film, yet that's when racial tension rears its ugly head. Progressing throughout the screenplay, it only worsens, and when we reach the point of trailer-trash neo-Nazis, we know it went too far.

If anything, "End of the Road" is that straightforward journey mentioned earlier. While I understand trying to show the firsthand experience of racism, this is a time capsule better left buried. Going back further than Shelton's presentation here, we'd have to mention Peele's "Get Out" and "Us" as much better examples of what is acceptable without stooping to unjustifiable and warped views of racism vilifying a wide range of people in the New Mexico, Arizona region. There's simply zero nuance; even worse, it's the cornerstone within Shelton's narrative; despite this, it feels shoed-in. Each minor ray of sunshine disappears with the director's statement of a "new genre", perhaps being the most blatantly clueless, being as stereotypical of a watered-down crime-thriller as you can get with racial prejudice from decades past even insulting the Blaxploitation sub-genre and the people she supposedly made this film for.


Hopefully this is Shelton's end of the road in cinema.