'The Family Plan' Apple TV+ Movie Review, starring Mark Wahlberg

Cute and action-packed, The family plan features an excellent cast and balanced technique. Too bad for the multitude of predictable and far-fetched scenes

The Family Plan Review
Image Credit: Apple Studios

Directed by British director Simon Cellan Jones and available from 15 December 2023 on Apple TV+, The Family Plan is an action comedy with a large cast of well-known American actors, and beyond. Alongside the protagonist Mark Wahlberg, we find Michelle Monaghan, Zoe Colletti, Van Crosby, Ciarán Hinds, Maggie Q, Jonny Coyne, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ryan Homchick, and many others. A lively film that moves from the quiet town of Buffalo to the exuberant, dazzling, and seductive Las Vegas.

When action comedy doesn't need to be far-fetched

Dan Morgan is a devoted husband, a present and protective father, and one of the best car salesmen in the city of Buffalo. With his wife and 3 children, he lives a monotonous existence, but which gives him serenity and gratitude every day. What binds them is affection, small daily problems, and habits that make them feel safe. But Dan hides a dark past, which he has kept secret for too long and which, one day, unexpectedly, puts him and his family in danger. Even though he keeps his wife Jessica, his children Nina, Kyle, and little Max in the dark about everything, sooner or later the truth comes out. 

Dan has built a quiet life that he loves and that would be difficult to reconcile with who he was years before: a former killer and member of a government agency. An infallible assassin who however abandoned the team, and it is for this reason that his former boss and his team are ready to do anything to take revenge and kill him. But finding and knocking out Dan Morgan proves anything but easy, particularly in the chaotic, bewitching, glittering Las Vegas, where Dan takes his family on a trip, confident he can protect them far from Buffalo, where his identity has now been compromised.

If the story of the film is banal and not very credible, The Family Plan manages, between direction, interpretation, and editing, to be fun and lively; a film of pure entertainment, with the right mix between comedy action scenes and more dramatic, breathing scenes. Scenes that only occupy the second half of the film and which cause a decisive drop in appeal. Taking up both the elements of the action product and those reminiscent of a comedy of errors, the film is however enriched with intriguing devices that attract both lovers of the genre and spectators who are less fans of action films: starting from the soundtrack, down to unexpected details that are rarely seen in films of this type. 

Highly predictable, the second part of The family plan, unfortunately, borders on the implausible, with unrealistic and completely out-of-place ideas. It is perhaps an attempt to give a touch of alchemy and charm: a mediation between characters who function precisely because they are totally different, but who we want, at all costs, to make complicit. If you can rejoice in some moments of the finale, exaggeration also ruins those products that immediately present a crackling and pleasant matrix that knows which genre it should focus on.

The Family Plan Movie Review
Image Credit: Apple Studios

Predictable and original at the same time

In fact, what works best are the action scenes, which, assembled with excellent choreography, are colored with original stratagems and reveal themselves to be the ones that arouse the greatest hilarity, demonstrating that it is precisely the name comedy that defines the new Apple TV+ film. To the tune of Only Time by Enya and Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, action sequences are built that are based on the contrast and moments of family togetherness of a typical American trip, and it is no coincidence that the destination is Las Vegas. The capital of entertainment, the universe of shopping, and the home of slot machines only increases that diversion of glam, elegance, and taste, which creates those misunderstandings and continuous obstacles that only the infallible protagonist can defeat. But if the characterization of the hero and the villains is recognizable and even now stereotyped, The family plan has that something extra that makes it innovative and enjoyable, without pretensions to depth or reflection.

What makes The Family Plan really fun is precisely the originality of the moments of greatest action. Among products that make the action genre the main focus of the story or that intersect it with drama, comedy, or teen movies, there are a myriad of different examples. Very often we are used to any action scene and it seems extremely difficult to continue to surprise, between slow motion, spectacularity, and real dances calibrated down to the smallest detail. Without exaggerating the sensational, in the photography, or the direction itself, The Family Plan makes use of and uses sui generis locations, with everyday objects that become lethal weapons and, why not, with accompanying songs and songs that create a winning game of opposites. This is how a plot already seen and with a predictable structure makes The Family Plan a compelling film, which captures and maintains the attention

The family plan: evaluation and conclusion

The film boasts an excellent cast, where everyone embodies their characters perfectly, starting with Mark Wahlberg, who is both a family man and employee of the year and a professional killer. The interpretations therefore also partially save the second part of the film when The family plan exceeds in the representation not only of the valiant heroic protagonist, but of an entire family that appears unbeatable, but without the unusual and entertaining tricks present in the first part. The Family Plan, with vivid and brilliant direction and cinematography and a good screenplay, certainly has some moments worthy of note, but it disappoints too much in the second half, maintaining the bar of unmistakably American action comedy high, for 2 hours of obvious fun and healthy entertainment.