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Lights Out (2024) Review

Michael ‘Duffy’ Duffield (Frank Grillo, King of Killers, One Day as a Lion) was a soldier, now he’s a drifter, dealing with PTSD and living on the move. As Lights Out begins, he gets off a bus, and it’s not even five minutes before he finds himself in a card game and accused of cheating. The ease with which he dispatches the other players and takes his money catches the eye of Max Bomer (Mekhi Phifer, Divergent, Truth Be Told).

Max is just out of jail and looking for a way to make some money, and he sees Duffy’s skill with his fists as the way to do it. He just has to convince him to take part in some illegal underground fight clubs like the one run by Fosco (Amaury Nolasco, Armored, A Good Day to Die Hard). And, since Duffy could use some cash himself, it isn’t too hard to convince him.


Before he went to jail, Max owed a rather large sum of money to a guy named Sage (Dermot Mulroney, The Inhabitant, Breakwater) and he wants to be paid, plus interest. We know Sage is bad news, and we also know he’s partnered with some crooked cops, including Detective Ridgway (Jaime King, The Resurrection of Charles Manson, My Bloody Valentine) and her partner Detective Kincaid (Paul Sloan, Paydirt, Every Last One of Them).

The team behind Lights Out, director Christian Sesma (Vigilante Diaries, The Night Crew) and writers Chad Law (Black Water, Hollow Point), Garry Charles (Welcome to Acapulco, Cute Little Buggers) and Brandon Burrows (Pups Alone, Section 8) all know their way around films like this. So it’s no surprise that Sage runs an upscale fight club, and Duffy is soon putting away the best he has to offer, that includes Carter (Donald Cerrone, Terror on the Prairie, 3 Days in Malay), and clearing up Max’s debt. It’s also no surprise that Duffy starts to fall for Max’s sister Rachael (Erica Peeples, Lunar Lockdown, True to the Game) whose ex has managed to get her on Sage and Ridgway’s shit list. And that in turn sets up Lights Out’s final showdown.


Lights Out benefits from a strong cast and the fact that rather than simply making cameos and leaving some nobody to carry the film, Grillo and Phifer are the film’s stars, with Mulroney getting a fair amount of screen time as well. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for Scott Adkins (Seized, Re-Kill) who is in some of Grillo’s flashbacks and then shows up at the end for a firefight against a corrupt SWAT team.

The film is at its best during the fight scenes, with fight coordinator Luke LaFontaine (The Sand, White Elephant) does a good job of setting up the film’s short but painful looking matches. Ending with a shootout may have been logical, but Lights Out would have been better if it had ended in a massive brawl, especially with Adkins presence. The fact he does just about all his damage with a gun in a film about underground fighting is a major missed opportunity.


The X-ray view gimmick that lets us see animated views of bones snapping, organs rupturing, etc. feels like just that, a gimmick. Maybe if it looked more realistic rather than an outtake from the latest Mortal Kombat game, I would have reacted better. But after seeing it used by Sonny Chiba, Jet Li, Tony Jaa, and others over the years, it needs more than cartoonish animation to be impressive.

In the end, Lights Out is an enjoyable, if somewhat predictable, action film. It’s nothing spectacular, but the presence of some good actors delivering dialogue that’s a cut above what we’re used to in these films makes everything between the fight scenes a lot easier to sit through. And that makes a bigger difference than you might think.

Quiver Distribution will release Lights Out in theatres as well as to VOD and Digital Platforms on February 16th. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release it on Digital in the UK on the 19th.

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