This Article is From Jun 15, 2023

The Flash Review: The Speed Force Is Not With Ezra Miller's Mammoth Misfire

The Flash Review: If anybody does stand out, it is Michael Keaton, whose charismatic presence vindicates the belief that it takes a lot more than just CGI wizardry and metahuman qualities to make a superhero fly

The Flash Review: The Speed Force Is Not With Ezra Miller's Mammoth Misfire

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New Delhi:

Multiverse mania has its uses. As it rides on nostalgia, narrative flexibility and free flights of fancy, it does yield dividends. But when the imagination is allowed to run riot and a porous space-time continuum is stretched to snapping point without a strong enough safety net to protect it in the eventuality of a nosedive of the kind that occurs in The Flash, it is undermined beyond repair.

The Flash, directed by Andy Muschietti from a screenplay credited to Christina Hodson, is a mammoth misfire. It goes hell for leather in a bid to give the DC Extended Universe a fresh lease of life and hand its lead actor another shot at stardom but it comes unstuck because it embraces the conventions of the genre at the expense of a pursuit of tangible human emotions.

The characters are disappointingly flat, the battles that they fight are laboured and the computer imagery that the movie puts on the screen feel no more than what it is – completely ersatz. Nothing that unfolds in The Flash has the power of speed and electricity that makes the DC superhero the force that he is.

The Flash gives us two avatars of Barry Allen, one of them an 18-year-old version of the superhero in an alternate timeline, but that does nothing to double the power of the tale that hinges on travel across time and reality and on an expected battle to save the world from annihilation.

In an overheated concoction that throws Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) into a universe in which the superhero is left scrambling for support as he faces a threat from General Zod (Michael Shannon). The timeline that he finds himself marooned in has no Justice League superheroes to wage a war for peace. Batman has withdrawn from crimefighting, Superman has disappeared from the scene, and Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Aquaman are nowhere in sight.

Realising that he can run fast enough to go back in time, Barry resolves to change his past, and prevent the murder of his mother Nora (Maribel Verdu) and the incarceration of his father Henry (Ron Livingstone, replacing Billy Crudup, who played the role in Zack Snyder's Justice League). He goes ahead with his plan despite being warned of the consequences. He is shut out of the time ten years hence that he has travelled from.

Face to face with his younger self, a long-haired, self-confessedly “obnoxious” guy who is yet to acquire the powers that will change his destiny, The Flash turns to Bruce Wayne/Batman (Michael Keaton, reprising the role for the first time since Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns) for help.

Incidentally, the development of a film featuring The Flash began around the time that Burton was making Batman in the late 1980s. The long and messy gestation of this DCEU project and the cloud that the lead actor has been under of late owing to acts that have put him in the crosshairs of the law and the media may not be instantly apparent in the look, feel and fate of the film.

The Flash is singularly bereft of spark. The lack of genuine fire is sought to be concealed behind a cloak of levity, much of which stems from Barry's nerdy and disgruntled ways. He is a sharp forensic scientist who regrets the secondary role that he has been condemned to.

He is called upon to clean up the mess after Batman (played by Ben Affleck in Barry's current timeline) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) have thwarted a bank robbery that has triggered major mayhem in a maternity home. He saves a bunch of newborn babies who are sent plummeting to the ground when a Gotham City hospital crumbles even as shards of glass, bursts of fire and sharp surgical instruments fly all around them. The Flash barely receives the appreciation he deserves.

In the past, where The Flash has lost his powers in an attempt to help his past avatar acquire those very powers, Batman reluctantly agrees to come out of retirement and extend a helping hand to the despairing Barry. With Bruce, the present-day Barry and the younger Barry go in search of Superman. They find Clark Kent's cousin Kara/Supergirl (Sasha Calle), who Barry rescues from a facility in the Arctic.

Aesthetically and tonally uneven, The Flash is a patchy affair that falls back on the actors to rescue it from the tedium created by the unsteady juggling of predictable, overworn devices. Ezra Miller's performance is just about adequate. It does not exactly crackle with energy. The fetching Sasha Calle, the first Latina to play Supergirl, is only a pale shadow of the DC character that could once upon a time genuinely excite audiences.

Kiersey Clemons, who is cast as the journalist who tries to get Barry Allen to come clean on what exactly happened on the day his mom died, is given the short shrift. If anybody does stand out, it is Michael Keaton, whose charismatic presence vindicates the belief that it takes a lot more than just CGI wizardry and metahuman qualities to make a superhero fly.

The Speed Force is clearly not with The Flash. It sputters along down a road that leads nowhere.


Ezra Miller, Michael Keaton, Sasha Calle, Kiersey Clemons, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston


Andy Muschietti