Barely Lethal, although hardly anything extraordinary, is at least a passable ‘tween spy thriller that’s heaps better than any of the Spy Kids movies (granted, not that big of an accomplishment). The cast is mostly good with Hailee Steinfeld doing a fine job carrying a thin script. It’s probably worth a rental, nothing more.
Genre(s): Comedy, Suspense, Action
Lionsgate | PG13 – 99 min. – $24.99 | August 4, 2015
THE MOVIE – 3.0/5
Plot Synopsis: Megan Walsh (HAILEE STEINFELD) is a teenager who tackles missions for a secret organization taking down terrorists worldwide. The group is headed by Hardman (SAMUEL L. JACKSON) who has trained young people since they were born in various methods of combat and weaponry, a la “La Femme Nikita.” However, Megan wants more out of life taking in teenage culture visa vi teen tabloids and 90s comedies like Clueless and Mean Girls.
After a mission to capture arms dealer Victoria Knox (JESSICA ALBA), Megan gets the opportunity to start anew when Hardman believes she died during the course of the assignment. She begins searching for a host family to live with and then attending high school. But things are not what she hoped seeing the harshness that is teenage life though she does have her eyes on the school rock star Cash Fenton (TOBY SEBASTIAN) while she finds a humorous connection with tech geek Roger (THOMAS MANN). Of course, her past comes back to haunt her as Hardman isn’t keen on letting her go…
Quick Hit Review: Barely Lethal actually was kind of surprising. No, it’s not great, or nearly as great as some of the teen rom-coms it referenced, yet I found it to be entertaining and a breezy way to kill 90-minutes. The cast is nicely put together with Hailee Steinfeld is capable of playing a lead while Jessica Alba and Samuel L. Jackson do their duties in cameo-esque like roles appearing in maybe 5 and 10 minutes respectively. The supporting cast consisting of Thomas Mann (Project X), Sophie Turner (“Game of Thrones”) and Dove Cameron (“Liv and Maddie”) all provide the right balance of humor and stereotypical teen drama, with a bit of spy fantasy thrown in for good measure.
The film was helmed by Kyle Newman, director of Fanboys, from a screenplay written by John D’Arco (feature debut). As I said, Barely Lethal is hardly great yet there’s just enough there to make it an enjoyable, if not forgettable, experience. The cast is good and there are some nice moments that will put a smile to anyone who grew up watching 1990s teen comedies.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. Inside is a redemption code to the Digital HD copy. Features-wise, it’s a tad light but better than nothing…
Audio Commentary – The track includes Director Kyle Newman and Actors Dove Cameron and Thomas Mann. As one might expect, this is more on the light-hearted side and has some anecdotal on-location stories about how certain scenes were shot. I actually prefer these once in a while as they tend to be fun (depending on the personalities).
Back to School: On the Set of Barely Lethal (10:45; HD) is a so-so behind-the-scenes featurette with EPK-like interviews with members of the cast and crew as they talk about the plot and characters.
Deleted Scenes (6:49; HD) – We get a few scenes either trimmed or removed that, after watching, you can tell why as they don’t really add much to the plot or character.
Previews – Ex Machina, Slow West, The DUFF, The Spectacular Now, The Bling Ring
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Lionsgate releases Barely Lethal onto Blu-ray presented with a 1080p high-definition transfer and show with a 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio. The video transfer isn’t anything I’d call amazing mainly because it has a glossy tone to it and in a few shots, an almost glow to them. I doubt this has anything to do with the transfer and instead how Newman chose to shoot it. Due to the light-hearted nature, though, it is a bright looking movie with nice looking and balanced colors.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc includes a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which showcases both the more action-oriented scenes, though there are only a few, as well as the comedic ones which are more dialogue-driven. The depth of the track does come to life courtesy of the ‘tween targeted soundtrack as well as the generic score. All in all, it’s a well rounded track.
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Overall, Barely Lethal, although hardly anything extraordinary, is at least a passable ‘tween spy thriller that’s heaps better than any of the Spy Kids movies (granted, not that big of an accomplishment). The cast is mostly good with Hailee Steinfeld doing a fine job carrying a thin script. It’s probably worth a rental, nothing more. The Blu-ray released by Lionsgate offers good video/audio transfers and a half-decent selection of bonus material.
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.