Review by Sean Boelman
Netflix is behind a number of original films from around the world, many of which fail to connect with audiences in the US. Mélanie Laurent’s action flick Wingwomen seems like it may be the exception to that rule thanks to it being elevated by strong performances from Adèle Exarchopoulos and Laurent herself.
The movie follows two professional thieves who want to retire, only to find themselves in over their heads when they are forced to take one last job. Narratively, Wingwomen is straightforward, following the usual tropes of the “one last job” arc — only with the mission feeling even more insignificant than usual.
Instead, what will get viewers invested in the story is the dynamic between the film’s two leads. Like virtually every other aspect of the movie, hardly anything about their arcs is original or even atypical. However, thanks in no small part to some committed performances, they’re nonetheless easy to root for.
As is likely a surprise to no one, the cast is the absolute highlight of Wingwomen. And while female-led action flicks are usually all about ogling their attractive stars, Laurent’s female lens does a great job of turning these cliches on their head. While she does not shy away from the fact that she’s cast several sex symbols (including Adèle Exarchopoulos and Isabelle Adjiani) or her own sexuality, their roles give them more of a chance to show off their acting chops than usual for the genre.
There are clearly some attempts at comedy throughout, but very few of them land. Perhaps the humor was lost in translation, but the situations are hardly ever funny, and the one-liners don’t have much wit, even when compared to some other examples of the genre. Still, despite this, the film moves along at a relatively breezy pace.
As far as made-for-streaming action movies go, Wingwomen has relatively standard choreography. Exarchopoulos does have one action sequence that impresses, but for the most part, it’s stuff we’ve seen done time and time again. It’s a mix of car chases, shootouts, and fights that, while nothing special, is typically diverting.
However, the movie does have some strong technical elements, owing to Netflix clearly putting some money into this. The CGI is solid, the editing slick, and the soundtrack energetic. The film has the right blend of stunts and visual effects to give it the feeling of a grand scale — something that so many Netflix releases have been missing these days.
Wingwomen is the type of action movie that seems like it was destined to disappear in the ranks of the Netflix library — especially outside of its home country of France. However, thanks to its strong cast that elevates it beyond its relatively plain script, it may not quite be doomed to that fate.
Wingwomen streams on Netflix beginning November 1.