Combustible Celluloid Review - The Moderator (2022), Hicham Hajji, Jonathan McConnell, Zhor Fassi-Fihri, Irma Lake, Robert Knepper, Gary Dourdan, Michael Patrick Lane, Soraya Azzabi, Don Bigg
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With: Irma Lake, Robert Knepper, Gary Dourdan, Michael Patrick Lane, Soraya Azzabi, Don Bigg
Written by: Hicham Hajji, Jonathan McConnell
Directed by: Zhor Fassi-Fihri
MPAA Rating: R for violence, sexual assault, language, some sexual content and brief drug use
Running Time: 82
Date: 07/29/2022

The Moderator (2022)

1/2 Star (out of 4)

Snik Out

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This atrocious action movie is bad in just about every way: poorly written, poorly acted, poorly shot, preachy, unintentionally funny in spots, brutally offensive in other spots, and overall clueless.

A woman (Irma Lake) receives a happy video from her two friends vacationing in Morocco. Suddenly, she hears a news report that these same friends have been killed, apparently, in a terrorist incident. Using her contacts, she gets a codename, "Mya Snik," and springs into action. She kills a man who seems to be involved with posting footage of the murder online, and then heads to Morocco.

There she crosses paths with Hakim (Don Bigg), a local who has his fingers in many pies, and may be connected with the murder. He's also connected to American pop star Vance Wilhorn (Michael Patrick Lane), who loves partying and luring women into his lair and forcing himself upon them. As Mya causes more and more carnage, local police officer Selma (Soraya Azzabi) gets closer to her trail... and finds more than she bargained for.

To start, the awkward, heavily-accented line-deliveries in The Moderator might indicate performers who speak English as a second language, but then we get to the American-born actors, and they're just as bad. Vance is more like a time-share salesman than a pop star, as evidenced by an awful, badly lip-synced "recording session." Then there's the Mya character, who has virtually no background or introduction, other than waking up in skimpy underthings, petting her cat, and then doing some yoga. (Who is taking care of the cat while she's galavanting around the world?)

She's referred to as a "motorcycle travel blogger," but she's also someone with a "particular set of skills." She seems to be working for some shadow organization, but she also seems to be on a personal vendetta. Sometimes she's good in a fight, and other times she's terrible, taking to throwing shoes at one assailant, and unable to catch up to a huffing, heavyset villain on a trail in the woods.

Eventually The Moderator gets to its #MeToo message, that misogyny and rape are bad, but it treats viewers as simpletons, even including a female character that says, "I wouldn't mind being raped by a handsome man like that." And its blunt answer is vigilanteism. It's unclear how a movie like this gets made, but it's best to avoid it.

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