Leave the World Behind movie review: Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali stay alert in tense apocalyptic thriller

Movie Review: Leave the World Behind – A Gripping Thriller with a Twist In the new Netflix release, Leave the World Behind, directed by Sam Esmail, we witness an intense and suspenseful story unfold.  

The film stars Julia Roberts as Amanda Sanford, a character who openly expresses her disdain for people right from the start.  Amanda plans a spontaneous getaway for her family, including her husband Clay (played by Ethan Hawke) and their two children, Archie and Rose.  Little do they know, their vacation will take a dark turn, leaving them and the viewers in a constant state of dread.  The story begins with the Stanfords arriving at their destination and heading to the beach.  However, their peaceful outing is disrupted when they spot an oil tanker approaching the shore.  Panic ensues as they realize the ship is about to crash.  As they run for safety, a knock on the door adds to the already tense atmosphere.  It turns out to be the owners of the vacation rental, GH Scott and his daughter Ruth.  They explain that there is a blackout in the city and decided to return early.  Amanda immediately suspects their true intentions, but Clay remains trusting.  The next morning, Amanda notices a news alert regarding a potential blackout and hacking, hinting at a national emergency.  Her suspicions grow, and the subsequent scenes beautifully capture the urgency of the situation.  The film delves into unsettling tensions and ambiguities, with racial tension between the two families adding to the unease.  However, the director falls short in exploring the deeper questions that arise from the turmoil.  Instead, the focus remains on the abnormality of the events unfolding rapidly.  While there is still much to uncover about the Stanfords, these revelations feel lackluster and only contribute to the discomfort felt throughout the movie.  

Julia Roberts delivers a compelling performance, portraying Amanda's self-centered arrogance with precision.  It is a refreshing departure from her usual roles and is a delight to watch as she navigates the unfolding emergency.  Ethan Hawke complements her energy with a dry sense of determination as Clay.  However, it is Mahershala Ali who steals the scenes with his character's uneasy body language, offering more depth than the script provides.  The interaction between Ali and Roberts is particularly memorable.  Leave the World Behind is an ambitious and gripping thriller that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.  However, the ending leaves something to be desired, as it takes an impish turn, diluting the severity and resistance built up throughout the movie.  Nevertheless, the film raises important questions that could have had a stronger impact with a less defensive approach.  Overall, Leave the World Behind is a captivating film with an intriguing premise and a prevailing sense of dread.  Although it has its shortcomings, it is still worth watching for its thrilling storyline and standout performances.