The latest action-adventure comedy from celebrity couple Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy is not exactly a Thunder Force to be reckoned with. It’s barely watchable. So don’t be fooled by its cute trailer and impressive roster of actors. Thunder Force is a dud that takes way too long to get to what might be considered the good stuff if you’re in a forgiving mood… and happen to have a Netflix account… and managed to find some escapist value in critical bombs like Superintelligence, Tammy, Life of the Party, and the The Boss — all starring McCarthy and co-written and/or directed by Falcone. Seems their talents are far better served by other people’s material. And Octavia Spencer? The Academy-Award winner seemed to have far more fun playing super bad in the 2019 creepy horror movie Ma, and that wasn’t exactly a film to write home about. Here, she’s a newly-minted superhero out to save the world — or at least Chicago — from genetically-altered supervillains known as “miscreants”.
Here’s the gist: Lydia (McCarthy) and Emily (Spencer) are two best friends from childhood who had a falling out and went their separate ways for 20 years. Lydia hopes the occasion of a high school reunion will give them a chance to reconnect, but the very things that prompted their estrangement are still in play: Lydia is a foul-mouthed free spirit unbound by chains of responsibility, and Lydia is an uptight over-achiever determined to finish the work her parents – killed by miscreants – had started decades earlier. Through a series of campy mishaps driven by science, the two women end up with complementary superpowers, dub themselves Thunder Force, squeeze into some super suits and go after the evil miscreants, including “The Crab” (Jason Bateman), “Laser” (Pom Klementieff) and “The King” (Bobby Cannavale). Falcone, who always pops up in his movies in some role or another plays one of The King’s henchmen.
The supporting cast also includes Taylor Mosby as Emily’s smart (“not a nerd”) daughter Tracy, and Melissa Leo as a former CIA agent who helps run the fledgling Thunder Force operation.
Thunder Force means well and has some funny, cute and heartwarming moments as the women test the limits of their newfound powers and rediscover the roots of their friendship. But it’s a chore to get to those moments, and they are too few and far between. And the miscreants and their motivations are paper-thin. Bottom line: Thunder Force could and should have been much better.