Cinema-goers love a smooth-talking wheeler-dealer almost as much as they adore a good redemption story. So you can practically hear the swooning as smarmy corporate ‘facilitator’ Sam Harper (Chris Pine) opens his motormouth. It’s apparent that something is fundamentally broken in Sam – especially when he tries to weasel his way out of attending his father’s funeral. A famous record producer, his father never gave his kid anything but, posthumously, a killer vinyl collection and a cigar box filled with cash. The latter is intended for Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) – the illegitimate sister Sam never knew he had.
It isn’t a spoiler to say that these two bond, or even that a whole lot of healing will happen before the end credits. That’s how movies like this work, so it’s just a question of how deftly screenwriter-turned-director Alex Kurtzman’s debut feature can emotionally manipulate you before the narrative house of cards collapses and things go from sweet-and-sour to full-on sickly. For the record, the dip starts right around the halfway mark.