With a cast that includes the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Alba you may be lead into a false perception of what this film may just be about, Make no mistake this is your formulaic teen comedy with a little bit of kick ass added for a bit of spice.
Megan aka Agent 83 (Hailee Steinfield) is no normal teenage girl, being made an orphan at a young age she is drafted into an assassin’s training school for girls. Trained from a young age to be the best secret agents they can possibly be. Trained by instructor Hardman (Samuel L. Jackson), she is the top of her class but can’t quite get into her head the number one rule, “Make No Attachments”.
Longing for a normal childhood, one that she feels deprived off, Megan uses Hardman’s own statement that he isn’t in the rescue business to fake her own death after a mission to capture the bad-ass gorgeous Victoria Knox (Jessica Alba). Enlisting herself into a Foreign Student Exchange program Megan lands herself with a family who welcomes her with loving arms – well except for the daughter who is of the same age.
What comes next is 99% of the teen comedies we have all seen before, her issues of trying to fit into high school, being treated like an outsider, doing what it takes to get the school hunk to go out with her but then realises it’s the geeky best friend she’s made is the one for her. We get the typical high school dance scene too which has a bloodless fight sequence with Agent 84 who has gone rogue in order to take her out for the pure fact that she hates her. When Hardman finally discovers that she is very much alive everyone’s life is in danger and Megan finds herself torn.
Barely Lethal seems to be just a bit confused as to what it wants to be at times, it’s full of great fight sequences and a nice little car chase one minute, and all sentimental teen innocence the next. Think Kick Ass then throw in a bit of every other teen movie from the past 10 years. The jokes feel a bit watered down too, you’ll find yourself tittering, but no real belly laughs exist.
Being brutally honest, why exactly this film needed Jessica Alba and her character is beyond me. This is another area where the film lets itself down. The storyline is so slap-dash at times it’s obvious they have just thrown in random storylines for the hell of it. Samuel L. Jackson hardly acts too; he’s just there to have a bit of fun and pick up the pay cheque for a bit of extra pocket money.
Barely Lethal is an adequate enough film, adequate enough for a rainy Sunday afternoon when you have nothing better to do. It’s cute, fun and at times amusing but with a storyline full of flaws and an A-List cast to mislead its audience it leaves you feeling just a little bit flat.
Barely Lethal is out in UK Cinemas and VOD 28th August.