The Comeback Trail ★★
Starring Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Zach Braff, Emile Hirsch
Another day, another comedy starring Robert De Niro. His back catalogue is increasingly hit and miss; and while he always provides solid performances, the films themselves can be forgettable (The Irishman a welcome exception in recent years).
And so we arrive at The Comeback Trail, where producer Max Barber (De Niro) plots to recoup his losses from his latest movie flop by killing Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones) for the insurance money.
This is definitely a movie of three thirds (that’s a saying, right?). The opening act has fun and silly moments while we are force fed exposition at every turn. By the time we get into things it feels like we’ve already watched a whole movie. This section involves De Niro trying to find the money he owes Reggie Fontaine (Morgan Freeman). It takes an age to get through just so that we can set up the actual story.
The second act is a lot better. Once we get Tommy Lee Jones on board and the movie-within-a-movie starts rolling, it’s a lot of fun. With some great, if a little implausible, set pieces there’s a sense that the movie has finally found its feet. Things turn south again though in the final act, which is somewhat rushed, especially the ending which goes from farce to cheesy comedy in an instant.
All of the cast are trying their best with a confused script, but the highlight here is Tommy Lee Jones. His performance as an actor out of retirement struggling with mental health is brilliant. There’s a sincerity to him that pushes through the farce while simultaneously playing the comedy to perfection.
A hit and miss comedy that will split the crowd, The Comeback Trail will likely lounge about in the bottom of your De Niro favourites, but you’ll still have a little bit of fun watching it.
The Comeback Trail available now on NowTV and Sky Cinema