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Amazon Prime Video has another big movie hit on its hands - just don't look at the reviews

Fancy an action comedy? Prime Video has a suggestion...

Amazon Prime Video has another big movie hit on its hands - just don't look at the reviews
Andrew Williams
17 January 2024

Prime Video’s latest comedy, Role Play, is the sort of flick we’d expect to see over on Netflix. Not necessarily in a good way either, but it seems to be drawing in the crowds nevertheless.

Role Play is the number one Prime Video film in the US, and number two worldwide, according to Flixpatrol. And given the top spot is taken up by the fresh-out-of-cinemas Saltburn, that’s not bad going.

The film is an action-packed comedy. A married couple, played by David Oyelowo and Kaley Cuoco — best known as Penny from The Big Bang Theory — try to spice up their love life with a bit of role play.

Wife Emma ends up revealing she’s an actual assassin as a result. And there’s a bounty on her head, a plot beat introduced by a ripe Bill Nighy playing a mysterious older man. Unfortunately, his plus-size cameo might be the best thing in the film. Like so many made-for-streaming comedy movies, it has not picked up amazing reviews.

Role Play currently has a 22% freshness rating at RottenTomatoes, and a 38% average on Metacritic.

But is there any redemption for this high-concept comedy? The broad critical consensus is that while Role Play isn’t atrocious, it is rather limp and derivative. Let's take a closer look...

Role Play reviews

Indiewire calls it a “a flaccid film all around” and says it “feels like it was made 10 years ago, and we don’t mean that not in a cutesy, nostalgic way.”

Such comments earned Role Play a C- rating in Indiewire’s review.

“Uninspired direction makes the film seem much longer than its 100 minutes,” says the Hollywood Reporter write-up.

But it does have some more favourable things to say about the film’s stars. “Cuoco’s well-honed comic skills are very much on display and Oyelowo, working in a lighter vein than usual, seems to be enjoying himself,” it says.

These sentiments are echoed by The Guardian’s review. “Cuoco’s performance does manage an awful lot of heavy lifting here, and she has some real chemistry with an all-in Oyelowo, the pair briefly showing us what they could do together with a script that was able to challenge them,” it says.

Despite the 2-star score, this review does appear to suggest there are worse options out there if you’re looking for an undemanding watch of something newly-released.

“It’s really not as atrocious as these films too often are, bar lazily stumbled over… Role Play isn’t a total loss but it’s still much too far from a win.”

A Mr. & Mrs. Smith beater this is not. But let’s not forget that (to some tastes) minor classic also received mixed reviews, landing on a Metacritic average of 55%. And given that Prime Video is rebooting Mr & Mrs Smith, it looks like its buyers like things with a similar plot!

Role Play was directed by Thomas Vincent. His most notable previous directing work includes three episodes of BBC’s Bodyguard from 2018 and an episode of the 2022 Reacher TV series.