‘Your Lucky Day’ Turns a Simple Setup Into an Unpredictable Gem
The credits of writer and director Dan Brown’s Your Lucky Day open with a poignant “For Angus” tribute, a bittersweet reminder that the late Euphoria star is no longer with us following his passing in July, with his performance in the kinetic action thriller releasing this weekend a sobering reminder of the talent he possessed in abundance.
Although he might be the top-billed name in the cast and the driving force behind its entire narrative, though, the unpredictable and ever-escalating movie is the true definition of an ensemble effort, with each member of the cast fully buying into a premise that veers from the grounded to the ridiculous with gleeful and reckless abandon, never once considering the prospect of pausing to catch breath.
Over the course of a frantic 89 minutes, Your Lucky Day runs the gamut from hostage thriller to all-out action extravaganza, by way of character-driven drama, jet-black humor, and even shades of Die Hard on account of its premise featuring a band of captives being held against their will right on the cusp of Christmas Day.
Adapted from his own 2010 short of the same name, Brown wastes no time in getting into the nitty gritty; Cloud’s sensitive-yet-troubled Sterling witnesses a lucky buyer realizing they’ve got the winning ticket for a $156 million lottery jackpot, something he simply can’t abide being cashed in by someone who’s quickly established as a thunderous asshole.
Taping a porno mag around his face to avoid detection, he tries to take the ticket and make a quick getaway, only for a cop coincidentally lurking in the bathroom to turn it into a full-scale shootout. Bodies dropped and mission accomplished in a roundabout sort of way, Sterling decides that the smartest way out is getting everybody else in on his get rich quick scheme.
That includes Mousa Hussein Kraish’s store owner Amir, Elliot Knight’s part-time concert pianist Abraham and his heavily-pregnant partner Ana Marlene (played by Jessica Garza), as well as a couple of pivotal players tied to Sterling Beaumon’s fresh-faced rookie officer Cody who enter the fray once they catch wind of what’s going on. Of course, the plan is a lot more simple in practice than it is execution, but that doesn’t even begin to cover the wild twists and turns to follow.
The thematic crux of the narrative is defined by Sterling’s rumination that “America doesn’t care how you get your money,” a sentiment that was signposted from the off by an opening title card that reads “Inspired by the American Dream.” In essence, he puts that notion into practice by encouraging the people he’s taken hostage to help him cover up a murder, dispose of the evidence, and then split the proceeds, which would be fascinating enough as it is were all hell not to break loose, which it most definitely does.
Cloud may have been positioned as the leading man and erstwhile protagonist from virtually the first frame, but Garza ultimately emerges as the arguable MVP of Your Lucky Day. Beginning as a terrified soon-to-be mother who wants nothing to do with the unscrupulous plan for the sake of her own safety, allegiances and opinions gradually begin to shift as the realization hits home that there might only be one way out of this particular scenario.
Intimately and intensely contained almost entirely to a single location, the broad strokes of the plot may become increasingly far-fetched and ridiculous, but it never devolves into outright exaggeration. A huge part of that credit should go to Cloud and Garza, with the former’s natural charisma and screen presence making a prospectively unlikable and irredeemable central figure an endearing, engaging audience surrogate, while the latter ends up providing the emotional anchor that underpins the final two acts.
Genre films set largely within a single confined space often find themselves manufacturing hoops to jump through in order to succeed, but in the case of Your Lucky Day, every action and reaction that takes place outside of Amir’s convenience store is directly tethered to either one of its principal players or their intended endgame, which makes it feel both expansive and claustrophobic at the same time.
There’s plenty for action junkies to chew on, too, while its repeated references to the completely open-ended interpretation of what the American Dream is supposed to be helps enhance the style through genuine substance, even if it’s all shot through the lens of what’s ostensibly escapism at the end of the day.
At its essence, Your Lucky Day is entirely predicated on the power contained by a single flimsy piece of paper, but Brown’s frantic feature-length debut is anything but slight.
‘Your Lucky Day’ finds Angus Cloud and the rest of the cast on sparkling form in a twisting, turning, and altogether unpredictably thrilling time.
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