While Barely Lethal is getting thoroughly panned by the critics, I do have to give it points for originality of the premise alone.
Barely Lethal is a unique mix of Mean Girls, Clueless and with a bit of La Femme Nakita thrown in. Our heroine is Megan, a girl who has been trained since birth to be a secret agent. Megan is a girl obsessed with living a normal life and spends her non-assassin time binge watching teenage comedies about high school. Finally, after having enough she fakes her own death and signs herself up as a normal teenage high school girl.
All and all, a great premise. The problem is it feels like the movie barely left the pitch phase. It was like they were in a hurry to make it, before anyone else came up with the idea. Its characters are poorly fleshed out teenage caricatures. Despite the fact that the cast is pretty star studded, this feels like a made for TV movie.
The idea that being in high school is more perilous than being a super spy is incredibly intriguing and this could have been a major hit. The issue is that they didn’t move this movie beyond its idea to an actual strong storyline, like with Mean Girls or Pretty in Pink.
Of course, because this is a spy movie as well, there’s lots of car chases and fight scenes between classes. That kind of makes up for the humdrum acting and poor dialog. The problem is many of them were so nonsensical they didn’t seem to fit, even with this crazy premise.
There was so much room for excellent dialog in this. Dialog along the lines of Sucker Punch. But then they fought for that PG rating, when honestly, a movie like this doesn’t require a PG rating. If they’d gone all in, instead of shying away from a more adult audience, this would have been great.
The problem is they seemed a bit confused as to who their audience was. They tried to focus it on kids, when the premise was more adult. They tried to keep it clean, when it would have been better if they played it dirty. After all, the leads in this aren’t afraid of an R rating.
Heather, the main mean girl is played by Sophie Turner, who also plays Sansa Stark in games of Thrones. If she can be in a TV show that can’t go five minutes without a graphic sex scene, she can be a character with a bit of edge. Despite an incredibly edgy premise, the movie just doesn’t go there.
All in all, I have to say I was incredibly disappointed. There was a cast and a storyline that had a lot of potential. The missing ingredient was the actual writing. Strong dialog could have sold this movie. Better characters could have sold this movie. Instead, they refused to move this past pitch and came up with a halfhearted effort that could have been great.
WE GAVE IT: 2 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!