Review Lights Out (2024)

Lights Out (2024)

Lights Out (2024) delves deep into the psyche of Michael “Duffy” Duffield, a homeless veteran played by Frank Grillo, whose life has been marred by the horrors of combat and the loss of comrades. Struggling to find his place in a world that seems to have moved on without him, Duffy’s journey begins in the dimly lit corners of a Los Angeles roadhouse bar, where a simple act of defending his honor against cheaters in a poker game draws the attention of Max Bomer (Mekhi Phifer), an ex-con with ties to the city’s underground fight club scene.

Max, who manages fighters for the clandestine organization, sees in Duffy not just a skilled fighter but a lost soul in desperate need of direction. This recognition is deeply personal for Max, whose brother, a fellow veteran, succumbed to the despair of post-war life. In Duffy, Max sees a chance to save someone from the fate his brother couldn’t escape. He offers Duffy a chance to fight not just for money but for a sense of purpose, bringing him into his makeshift family which includes his sister Rachel and her daughter.

Lights Out

The fight club, operated by the menacing Sage Parker (Dermot Mulroney) and under the shadowy influence of Ellen Ridgeway (Jaime King), a police officer with her own agenda, serves as the crucible for Duffy’s transformation. Winning fights and earning money brings Duffy closer to Max and his family, but also deeper into a world of violence and moral ambiguity. The narrative thickens when it’s revealed that Rachel’s abusive boyfriend has stolen money from Sage and Ridgeway, intertwining Duffy’s fate with the broader criminal undertakings of the fight club’s operators.

“Lights Out” attempts to navigate these dark and complex waters with a focus on action and the personal redemption arc of its protagonist. However, as Duffy becomes more entangled in this world, the film expands its scope to include a host of secondary characters and subplots involving corrupt cops, gangsters, and other denizens of the night. This ambition to weave a multi-threaded narrative sometimes comes at the cost of character development, particularly in the case of Duffy, whose backstory and struggle with PTSD are touched upon but not fully explored.

Lights Out

Critics have pointed out that while the film succeeds in delivering high-octane action sequences and moments of genuine connection between Duffy and Max, it struggles to maintain a cohesive narrative through its myriad twists and turns. The inclusion of an expansive cast and multiple subplots dilutes the focus from Duffy’s personal journey, making it challenging for the audience to remain invested in his redemption.

Despite these criticisms, Lights Out offers a gritty look at the underbelly of Los Angeles and the complex lives of those who find themselves caught in the city’s violent, hidden circuits. The film’s portrayal of brotherhood, loss, and the fight for redemption speaks to universal themes, even as it navigates the specific and often brutal world of underground fight clubs.

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