By: Russ Matthews
Mark Wahlberg has hit a season of his career where he hopes to connect with families.
At the same time, he attempts to maintain his action-hero status. This True Lies-inspired storyline is familiar and will draw audiences into this world of carpools, kickboxing classes, and the occasional assassination.
Dan Morgan (Wahlberg) has a good life in Buffalo, New York, with his wife, Jessica (Michelle Monaghan), and their three children. As he sells used cars and enjoys Taco Wednesday at home, things seem straightforward until his image makes it onto social media one day. Suddenly, Dan’s history comes back to haunt him when various hitmen do their best to apprehend him and the family. This forces the used car salesman to delve into a world he left over 18 years ago, one he had kept secret from Jess and the kids. As he tries to figure out the best time to tell them the truth, Dan decides to take them on a tech-free road trip to Las Vegas to meet up with someone who can help the whole family stay ahead of the assassins who seem to want them all dead.
One of the challenges of films that expose years of secret identities, the characters at the centre of the story can struggle to know who they really are within the story. Interestingly, Mark Wahlberg’s character doesn’t have this issue, but the film struggles to understand what it is meant to say. There is a strong family message that strings things together loosely, but things get confusing as other narratives begin to weave their way into the screenplay. Screenwriter David Coggeshall (Orphan: First Kill) introduces many elements that cause more confusion than intrigue. Many of the responses by the family throughout the journey make things increasingly unbelievable as the family gets closer to Vegas.
If there is a redemptive element of director Simon Cellan Jones’ family road trip, it would be in the chemistry between the cast. Each adds to the family situation and makes the most of what they have been given in the script. Wahlberg and Monaghan feel like they belong in a quirky rom-com, which may have been even more convincing. Yet, Zoe Colletti and Van Crosby as the older Morgan children were believable within a preposterous storyline. These casting choices and their work do more to salvage this film than the convoluted conclusion.
The Family Plan has the right heart, but fails to be convincing through to the end. Granted, this tale involves a former assassin who hides his identity from his family for nearly two decades. The bar may be set low and this may be the ridiculous option that will grab the hearts of children who wish their parents were secret agents, too.
Reel Dialogue: Can a lie hurt?
Is there such a thing as a good lie? This is the moral dilemma that is proven to be, well, a lie throughout the majority of The Family Plan. Dan Morgan learns that he should have been honest with his family from the beginning of their lives together. His life becomes a life lesson in the familiar lesson: honesty is the best policy.
“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” Luke 8:17
Usually, the person who asks if a ‘little white lie’ can really hurt is looking for justification for their own moral failings. This may be a confronting statement for some, but for those who have lived through the repercussions of an untruth, it is well… the truth.
When confronted with the difficulties in life, being truthful in all things may bring short-term pain, but it will provide peace of mind. Also, it leaves the person with nothing to cover up in the future.
When it comes down to it, Mum was right. A lie is a lie. ‘Just truth tellin’!
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie stills
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.