Once upon a time after ‘Three Kings’ Mark Wahlberg was on a misery streak in his career, misfire after misfire. Flop after flop, then it took a turn somewhere after ‘I heart Huckabees’ then his formula with flops would continue with ‘Max Payne’ and ‘The Happening’
He chose a solid project here, named ‘Joe Bell’ based on a real life tragedy about Joe Bell walking from La Grande, Ore., to New York City to pay tribute to his son, Jadin, a gay teen who committed suicide after being bullied. This a two man show which is clearly made for Oscar bait.
Mark Wahlberg who also serves as a producer on this project, simply gives one of the best performances of his career. Even if the screenplay plays it too safe at times, never giving us a true tragic look at what happened. Though almost making a fluff piece for mainstream audiences.
Reid Miller gives a breakthrough performance as Jadin Bell, but he deserves much better character development as it’s stunning to the story to bringing Joe Bell to his journey is exhaustingly underwritten to a point it feels like Reid is in an extended cameo role.
However, this will be sure to reach its niche audience. It will not be the gripping story you want to pull at your heartstrings like this story should. One highlight towards the end is Gary Sinise wrapping up the film nicely as he is always welcome other than the great performances from Wahlberg, Miller, and Sinise it wastes most of its potential.
Overall grade: 3/5 stars