By Lisa D. DeNeal @diolette
What would you do, if your daily routine as a successful and professional married couple, is tested when you find out that you have siblings, who are killers on the run? If it were me, I’d go back home, get in bed and throw the whole day away. But, Dr. Tracy Jones, the female protagonist in TV One’s original movie, Down for Whatever, doesn’t get to rewind her day. Instead, she takes us with her on a wild ride to confront her newly discovered sisters.
Down for Whatever opens with a birthday party for Tracy’s husband, Atlanta police detective Mike Jones, with friends and family at their home. The following morning, Det. Jones has breakfast with his longtime friend and colleague, Art, who is retiring from the force. When Jones goes to the restroom, pandemonium breaks as sisters Denise and Sonya Brown enter the crowded diner and kill Art. Jones returns to open fire at the getaway car.
The movie then switches to Dr. Jones at the hospital where she works and receives a call from her husband about Art’s murder. Fast forward to a social worker showing up at the hospital to reveal to Dr. Jones that the sibling suspects are her biological sisters. Dr. Jones, who was in foster care and eventually adopted, struggles with the news before putting her career, marriage, and, her life in jeopardy.
Hosea Chanchez (The Game) and LeToya Luckett (Greenleaf) complement each other as the Jones, taking their characters’ vows of for better or for worse to heart. In their individual scenes, both hold their own, with Chanchez’s Det. Jones, working to find his friend’s and another colleague’s killers while dealing with his wife’s need to find her sisters and eventually, coming to her aid. Luckett’s Dr. Jones is also impressive, not just with finding her sisters, but risking everything she has professionally and personally, and, coming to grips about her family tree.
I’ll admit, I enjoyed the Brown sisters, who were played with intensity by actress/rapper, Bre-Z, and actress, Imani Hakim. Bre-Z, best known for her role as Freda on FOX’s ‘Empire,’ mastered the hothead, Denise Brown, who is angry and hurt for more than one reason. Hakim, a former child TV star (Everybody Hates Chris) who also played Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas on Lifetime’s The Gabby Douglas Story, plays the calm and collected younger sister, Sonya, bringing a perfect balance to Denise’s temper. Their shared pain and acts of revenge drive the movie.
Another storyline weaves in between with the story of Det. Jones’ rookie partner, Rosco (actor Jeph Cange) and his family connection within the police department, but I’ll leave it at that.
Down for Whatever touches on various topics, including abuse, the pros, and cons of the foster care system, adoption, race, and cop-killings. This is not a Black Lives Matter vs Blue Lives Matter type of movie. I saw the good and the bad in all of the characters. No one was exempt from secrets. In an interview with Black Girl Nerds, Imani Hakim mentioned that some of her research to play Sonya, including watching the 90s throwback film, Set It Off. I saw a few nods to the classic movie, as well as Thelma and Louise. Down for Whatever carried its weight with women leads in a story that could have been cast with an all-male ensemble.
My only complaints during the film were on the lackluster car chase between Det. Jones and the Brown sisters. It starts off strong but weakens as it looks like Jones is only driving through the same neighborhood, like someone who’s lost. I was also thrown off with the hint of chemistry between Dr. Jones and another doctor in a couple of scenes.
Tim Folsome (The Uninvited, Jacked, Cutthroat Alley), writer and director of Down for Whatever, delivers a powerful movie with multiple storylines and common denominators like family and loyalty. He rightfully deserved the Best Screenplay Award from the American Black Film Festival in June. Cast members also made an appearance at #SDCC 2018.
Down for Whatever is produced for TV One by Eric Tomosunas, Keith Neal, James Seppelfrick and Darien Baldwin for Swirl Films. Casting provided by Leah Daniels (The Butler Empire, When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story). For TV One, Jubba Seyyid is Executive in Charge of Production and Sr. Director of Original Programming and Production. Donyell McCullough is Senior Director of Talent and Casting. Robyn Green Arrington is Vice-President of Original Programming, and, D’Angela Proctor is Head of Original Programming and Production.
Lisa D, DeNeal is a freelance journalist and published author.