Ever since everyone’s favorite debatable Christmas movie came out, there have been countless imitations. In fact, “Die Hard on a ….” has become a pitch for any action movie where your hero is backed up into an impossible situation and has to take on terrorists themselves. We’ve had “Die Hard on a bus” (Speed), “Die Hard on a boat” (Under Siege), “Die Hard on a plane” (Passenger 57), and the list goes on and on. Of course, it was only a matter of time until we got “Die Hard in a courthouse,” in BET Plus’ newest original film Call Her King, in which terrorists take over a courthouse, and the judge has to stop them.
Jaeda King (Naturi Naughton) is a judge who entered the judicial system to make a difference. She also has to deal with the good old boy network (in which she overhears other judges saying “Colored woman do not have the constitution to make the tough choices, they’re too emotional.” She tries to rule her court in a fair manner. Everything changes in Call Her King though when she is overseeing the sentencing case of Sean Samuels (Jason Mitchell) who was convicted of murder. Oh, Sean also happens to have a well-organized brother Gabriel (Lance Gross) who is also known as “Black Caesar,” and will stop at nothing to get his brother out of jail and “hold the system accountable.”
Gabriel’s men (and women) storm the and take over the courthouse, but in the confusion, Jaeda, Sean, her bodyguard (Johnny Messner), and Sean’s lawyer (Nicholas Tuturro) manage to get away. Now, it’s up to them to try and take the courthouse back. While Jaeda’s bodyguard is formidable, Jaeda also happens to be trained in all sorts of baddassery. She’s handy with a machine gun, skilled at knife throwing, and is great in all forms of martial arts, which are all very convenient skills to have when having to take on scores of men and women trying to kill you.
In Call Her King, while Jaeda is kicking ass and taking names, Gabriel is holding his own form of court, but instead is trying the prosecutors and the judicial system. He puts the prosecutor of his brother’s case Hawkins (Garrett Hendricks) on trial for prosecutorial misconduct and corruption. Forcing Hawkins to not lie (or else a hostage will be killed), he is able to expose that not only Hawkins was corrupt in his means to try and secure a conviction for Sean, but he also has been trying to rekindle a college romance with Jaeda (even though the two of them are married.). Call Her King tries to use this part of the film as a way to expose the dark side of the judicial system, one that leaves many black and brown people in worse-off situations. This also showcases that Lance Gross is still a formidable actor as he carries the scenes well.
Throughout Call Her King, there are some soft character moments to help you understand what makes our hero tick. Jaeda is a hyper-vigilant judge due to a mistake that costs a person’s life and is also dealing with some marital issues at home. Meanwhile, it seems as though Sean’s case isn’t all that bad. Jason Mitchell and Naturi Naughton sell those scenes very well. It’s the action sequences that leave a little to be desired. It’s clear through selective and choppy editing and poorly lit fight sequences, that the fight choreography budget was minimal for Call Her King. Although the fight scene between Naughton and actress Shiobann Amisial (who played Gabriel’s “right-hand man”) was well done, most of the other action set pieces weren’t as suitable in their execution.
Call Her King isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel in regard to action movies, but it still doesn’t hit all the beats it needs to. Something like this could have been better served as a limited series. This would have meant a better budget as well as more time to flesh things out. It would have been better to spend half the time on Sean’s original trial, and then go to the siege of the courthouse instead of just dropping us into the day of the incident. Hell, since the movie had the nerve to have a post-credit scene, it could be an ongoing series about Jaeda and she not only tackles things in the courts…. but on the streets almost like The Equalizer. But suffice to say, that’s not what we got from director Wes Miller and the end result is some good old mindless fun.
Call Her King is currently streaming on BET+.