I have a feeling audiences are going to respond quite favorably to Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Ready or Not.  Very clever, darkly funny and tautly constructed, the film not only delivers a fair amount of thrills but manages to be merciless in its approach to the 1%, showing what unconscionable lengths they will go to in order to secure and hang on to their riches.  As the divide grows between the very few Haves and the multitudes of Have-Nots, the timing couldn’t be better for this biting satire, which takes no prisoners where the well-heeled are concerned.

It seems as though things are finally starting to look up for Grace (Samara Weaving).  Bounced from one foster home to the next when she was young, she’s just married Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien), whose family has amassed a considerable fortune over the years in various ventures, all of them revolving around games.  They are a tight-knit and odd group, led by the patriarch of the family, Tony (Henry Czerny), and his wife Becky (Andie McDowell).  Their other son, Daniel (Adam Brody), is unhappy despite his privileged lot in life, while his wife, Charity (Elyse Levesque), is quite pleased with the riches at her disposal.  Their daughter Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) hides her pain with an expensive drug habit while her husband, Fitch (Kristian Bruun), wallows in his wife’s wealth.

Seems like a good situation to marry into; however, first Grace must pass a trial by fire before she’s truly taken into the family fold.  She must survive a deadly game of hide-and-seek, hiding in the family’s massive mansion from midnight to dawn, while her future in-laws attempt to hunt her down and kill her.

The premise is introduced gradually as the script by Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy wisely takes its time, devoting ample time to character development so we come to see how and why these characters tick.  The cast takes full advantage of this as each of them gets a moment in the spotlight.  Of particular note is Scrofano, whose reckless, giddy abandon as the drug-addled Emilie allows her to steal every scene she’s in; if anything, Busick and Murphy would have done well to give her a few more scenes.

However, Weaving is a true find here, as the actress takes the film by the horns and runs with it, giving a passionate performance that runs the emotional gamut.  Initially giddy and happy, the character must deal with her fear and panic before transforming into a fiery warrior whose unrealized strength and ingenuity come to the fore when she needs it most.  Weaving is convincing every step of the way, giving us a heroine we come to not simply like but respect and admire as well.

The movie’s humor may not appeal to everyone as it is bitterly ironic and as dark as a raven in a coal mine at midnight.  However, if you’re open to the witty and acerbic, Ready is your cup of tea as it cuts no slack in its examination of the effects of greed on those who pursue it.  The avarice on display is grotesque and the lengths the family in question goes to in order to keep it are equally outrageous.  The film’s climax is extreme but its execution and humor are in tune with the movie’s tone.  It’s likely the most cathartic ending you’ll witness on screen this year and for that alone, Ready is worth seeing.     

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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