Jericho Ridge Image

Jericho Ridge

By Ben Shehadi | April 22, 2024

Screenwriter Will Gilbey’s feature-length directorial debut, Jericho Ridge, follows a sheriff deputy named Tabby Temple (Nikki Amuka-Bird) as drug lords besiege her. The black female police officer in Clay County, Washington, has a son named Monty (Zack Morris), an unemployed teenager with a few secrets of his own. When he gets caught up with the wrong people, Tabby finds herself under assault by a mysterious gang of vicious gunmen. With a broken ankle and little experience, she must survive just long enough for reinforcements against these attackers to arrive.

All in all, this is just not a good movie. The storytelling is very slow, and it takes a while for the action to really kick in. We don’t see Tabby in a fight scene until nearly 30 minutes in. It takes almost 40 minutes to see our robotic heroine express anything resembling real human emotion. As mentioned, Gilbey is known for his screenplays, but this is his first full-length outing, and it shows.

The first half of Jericho Ridge is very dull and drags a lot. There’s no case to solve or mystery to crack. It just jumps randomly from one isolated, disconnected incident to the next. The narrative is scattered and has no sense of direction. There’s no logical sequence of events nor a buildup of any kind, much less any sort of payoff. Everything just happens randomly. There’s a severe disconnect between the events and any development of the characters. This directly correlates to a total lack of investment from anyone watching.

“…follows a sheriff deputy named Tabby Temple as drug lords besiege her.”

If the lead had been compelling or engaging, a must for all actioners, maybe things would’ve been different. Unfortunately, Amuka-Bird’s acting nor her character do the trick at all. Throughout, Tabby is stern and impassive. When she finally starts to express her feelings, it feels uncomfortably strained and unnatural.

Thankfully, the action-thriller picks up a lot in the second half. We get to see lots of gunfire and dramatic stakes. This is all done quite well — much better than the first half! But even so, the acting still isn’t totally believable. Even worse, though, is that the action gets dull and repetitive after a while.

The plotting for Jericho Ridge meanders about aimlessly. The acting, especially from Amuka-Bird, just isn’t convincing. Of course, the one-dimensional characterizations don’t help matters. The main character is unlikable, bossy, and lacks any sense of humor. Her only admirable trait is her love for her son, but their relationship feels a little half-baked. Unfortunately, you should pass on this.

Jericho Ridge (2023)

Directed and Written: Will Gilbey

Starring: Nikki Amuka-Bird, Zack Morris, Michael Socha, Solly McLeod, etc.

Movie score: 4/10

Jericho Ridge Image

"…meanders about aimlessly."

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