The Oath’s premise of U.S. citizens given the option to sign a loyalty statement to an extremist president and facing consequences if they resist is a plausible one, but filtered through the writing, direction and acting of the usually likable Ike Barinholtz (Neighbors), the potentially fiery subject matter is as toothless as the two most recent, rug-pulling Purge sequels.
Throughout the tonally inconsistent and frequently cruel feature that seems to have missed its calling as a short film, one can spot the likelihood of Barinholtz being inspired by the discomfort of politically-divided Thanksgiving celebrations in the Trump era and playing out the scenario to a satirical, cautionary tale degree — and wishing he’d ceded control to other parties.
In addition to getting little out of the talented Carrie Brownstein, John Cho, Max Greenfield, Billy Magnussen (Game Night), Jay Duplass, Nora Dunn (Three Kings) and Chris Ellis (Apollo 13), as the holiday becomes increasingly tense and dangerous, Barinholtz shows just how unappealing a non-comedic Tiffany Haddish can be, a factor that could prove useful for choosing whether or not to see certain future films.
Other benefits, however, are few, beyond an increased alertness and paranoia toward the dark possibilities of a tyrannical regime, though even there the repetitive, one-note manner through which the message is delivered makes it only so powerful.
Grade: D-plus. Rated R. Now playing at Biltmore Grande
(Photo: Roadside Attractions)