"Role Play" has Cuoco and Oyelowo but could have been more

Role Play (2024)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: one-half of a seemingly ordinary married couple secretly moonlights as a trained assassin! Oh, the deception! Once again (not even a full month after “The Family Plan”), “Role Play” plays that same old “So I Married a [Fill in the Blank]” chestnut, but at least Kaley Cuoco and David Oyelowo, as well as two notable (if underutilized) supporting players, try and elevate an exceedingly dull script. Just imagine if “True Lies” relied entirely on Arnold Schwarzenegger to be funny without giving him funny things to say.

Though married for seven years, Dave Brackett (Oyelowo) might not actually know his wife, Emma (Cuoco), as well as he thinks (or even her real name). They live happily with two kids in New Jersey, but when Emma is out of town in Nebraska on business as a marketeer, she’s actually assigned to kill someone somewhere around the globe for money. Those double-life jobs must really pay the bills. To spice things up (and for Emma to make up for forgetting their wedding anniversary), the couple decides to check into a luxury Manhattan hotel and role-play. Instead, Dave is late, while Emma sits at the bar, only to get hit on by Bob Kellerman (Bill Nighy), who turns out to be her bounty hunter. One dead body later, Emma must race to Europe and settle up with a secret organization, all while keeping Dave and her kids safe.  

Written by Seth Owen and directed by Thomas Vincent, “Role Play” begins as a surprisingly decent, never-too-wacky action-thriller/domestic drama hybrid until succumbing to the routine. This is another one of those competently made but minimum-effort projects where the leads are forced to prop up an underwhelming script that almost but ultimately doesn’t take many risks. Cuoco and Oyelowo are likable together, and it’s nice to see both actors playing more against type; she slits throats in Germany when she’s not making blueberry pancakes back in Jersey and he’s a sweetly aloof everyman grilling pineapple chicken for the fam. 

If you’ve followed Cuoco’s TV work in both “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Flight Attendant,” you know she contains multitudes, and here, she is charismatic and equipped to play a capable assassin posing as a mother and wife. This is like her “Red Sparrow” sans “whore school” or the Natasha Fatale accent. Oyelowo, always an excellent actor with undeniable gravitas, even sells the appropriate emotions when Dave discovers his wife’s true profession. When getting to act overwhelmed and incredulous, he’s pretty amusing in an understated way (“Then take a class!” he says to Emma when she drops the bomb on him and complains how she doesn’t know how to do anything else). Read the full review at GuyAtTheMovies.com

Grade: C +

Amazon MGM Studios released "Role Play" (101 min.) on Prime Video on January 12, 2024.