Capsule Review: The Family Plan (2023)

Throughout the two-hour streaming of Apple TV+’s The Family Plan, I can’t help but notice baby Max played by twins Iliana and Vienna Norris never cries or screams. Instead, he would just babble and giggle regardless of any situation. Even in situations like the one in the supermarket scene, where dad Dan Morgan (Mark Wahlberg) fights an assassin with a baby carrier strapping to his chest. I guess the non-crying baby is meant to be a recurring joke that you might find him either hilariously cute or weirdly funny.

The story is a familiar one: Dan works as a used car salesman and he’s very good at it. He’s a family man with a beautiful wife Jessica (Michelle Monaghan) and has three children including Nina (Zoe Colletti) and Kyle (Van Crosby) as well as the aforementioned little Max. Their two teenagers are your average rebellious types: Nina isn’t interested in pursuing journalism and decided to ditch Stanford University in favour of Southern Iowa University because of a boyfriend (Colby Burton’s Trevor) she loves so much. Kyle, in the meantime, lies to his parents about him not playing video games, specifically violent shooter games because his dad prefers him to spend more time outside.

Dan has a secret that he used to be a covert assassin. He manages to keep a low profile for so long and even changes his identity to start a new, family life. But the past ultimately catches up with him when his former employer McCaffrey (a typically menacing Ciarán Hinds) deploys his men to track down Dan at all costs.

Upon learning that the assassins are after him, he immediately decides on a so-called spontaneous road trip from their Buffalo residence to Vegas. He also made it a good excuse for some real family bonding and that means no technology involved. The road trip sequence has its few moments as the Morgans, particularly their teenage kids spend some quality time, albeit a few disagreements interacting with each other the old-fashioned way. For instance, they find out how cool their mum turns out to be during a brief scene on a university tour. Or how Dan enjoys spending his time with his otherwise distant teenage son on a game. Small moments like this do help to establish the chemistry between these characters.

The cast is likeable as Mark Wahlberg slips in his role effortlessly between a strict and typical family man and a skilful former assassin. He pairs well with the charismatic Michelle Monaghan while Zoe Colletti and Van Crosby deserve equal mention for their solid supporting turns in what could have been thankless daughter and son roles.

But Simon Cellan Jones, primarily a TV director for series such as Boardwalk Empire and Ballers, is more of a work-for-hire here. He relies heavily on the charm of the cast who play the Morgans to shoulder the weight of the movie. It works but only to a certain extent. The thing is, David Coggeshall’s screenplay is mostly a generic affair and the action sequences are sadly lacking the much-needed visual flair. The third act, which takes place in an abandoned casino hotel, wastes its potential to make good use of the premise as a visual playground for some thrilling action-packed moments. Too bad the entire scene simply deflates right down to an underwhelming finale.

The Family Plan is currently streaming on Apple TV+.