Avenging women punish sexist, abusive incels, frat-bros and “Men’s Movement” misogynists in “Asking for It,” a clunky piece of motion picture empowerment written and directed by a dude.
Bit-player/production assistant Eamon O’Rourke looked at the gender/culture wars landscape and decided what women REALLY want is revenge for all the Cosbys, Woodys, Rogans, Trumps, sex traffickers and Proud Boys running loose. So, tasing, humiliating, emasculating and frat-bombing it is.
Yes, he makes a hash of it. But there are moments, here and there, where you can see what a pretty good cast saw in the possibilities of the material. Kiersey Clemons, Vanessa Hudgens, Radha Mitchell and Alexandra Shipp don’t sign up for junk, as a general rule.
And and enfeebled “Warriors” villain David Patrick Kelly? Yeah, this is just the sort of ill-assembled garbage he turns up in these days.
Clemons, of “Dope” and “Hearts Beat Loud,” is a small town waitress who finds herself hit on by a “regular” (Shipp, of “Love, Simon,” “tick tick BOOM” and the X-Men franchise) and by that high school classmate who went off to law school.
Guess which one drugs and rapes her, leaving her triggered? Guess who’s in an underground group of feminist avengers out to right the sexist wrongs in their world?
Joey (Clemons) finds herself a part of ride-alongs, a sort of “clean up the streets” program run by elders played by Mitchell, Hudgens and Casey Camp-Horinek.
As this “payback” is set against a climate of Men First Movement “dominance,” inspired by online influencer Mark Vanderhill (Ezra Miller, of “The Stand” remake, and “Flash” in the DCU), we know there’s a showdown coming.
He’s Mr. “You see it, you want it, you take it,” which could mean most anything one can acquire at gunpoint. Pretty easy to hate, unlike you’re a MAGA trucker.
The women confer with and lean on allies like this African American justice group leader (Demetrius Shipp Jr.), that sympathetic sheriff (Luke Hemsworth) and local activists (Gabourey Sidibe) who can get them closer to the camo-clad goon and his online minions about to hold a rally in a nearby small city whose dirty sheriff (Kelly) runs the show for the evil patriarchy.
There’s very little attempt to ground “Asking for It” in reality, or in delivering righteous, visceral comeuppance.
Miller throws himself into his character’s tirades, but in action, he’s about as tough as his look-alike, Justin Long.
Hudgens takes another stab at lip-ringed, tattooed street-punk, and isn’t bad. Shipp in dreads has more of the build for it, and the way she flicks a knife gives her street cred.
It’s a little amusing hearing the drawl Mitchell serves up as her Earth-Mama-to-the-Movement matriarch.
But Clemons, as a lead, is too passive to invest in, at least as the script is constructed around her.
The villains are every bit as cartoonish as their real-life counterparts in today’s America. Sould anybody follow Miller into battle or embrace his strident, skinny goateed “leadership?” Joe Rogan seems a better poster-roid for that crowd.
Rating: R for disturbing and violent content, sexual material, nudity, and language throughout
Cast: Kiersey Clemons, Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, Ezra Miller, David Patrick Kelly, Luke Hemsworth, Gabourey Sidibe and Radha Mitchell.
Credits: A Saban release.
Running time: 1:37