Midas (2024)

Laquan Copeland as Ricky and Lucy Powers is Claire in the comedy “Midas.”

Hartford-set ‘Midas’ is lacking the golden touch

The city of Hartford earns a rare starring role in “Midas,” the unconventional heist comedy marking the writing-directing debut of native son TJ Noel-Sullivan. Most residents, I’m sure, will agree that the city couldn’t look more inviting. But it’s a double-edged sword, given how the Chamber of Commerce optics run smack into Noel-Sullivan’s laceration of the city’s lifeblood, the insurance industry.

It is the de facto villain in a story about three twenty-somethings conspiring to expose how the “Insurance Capital of the World” places profits ahead of health care, particularly when the claimants are poor and Black. Even if he’s taken some artistic license, you gotta admire the audacity Noel-Sullivan displays in criticizing the rich and powerful, albeit in a very tongue-in-cheek manner.

Abetting him is a largely no-name cast consisting of both local and national talents. As a whole, they prove an invaluable asset in maintaining your investment in a story that stretches credulity to the limit. It begins with the film’s breakout star, Laquan Copeland as Ricky Pryce, a college dropout toiling as a GrubHub driver to help provide for his little sister and cancer-stricken mom.

Fate steps in, as it often does in these situations, when his two buds, Victor (Federico Perra) and Sunita (Preet Kaur), invite him to tag along to a massive pool party thrown at the stately mansion of Sunita’s new boss, Gregory Brent (Bob Gallagher), CEO of the fictitious Midas Insurance Co. As coincidence would have it, Midas recently blindsided Ricky’s mom by laying her off and immediately terminating her health insurance.

So, revenge is in the air when Ricky and Brent’s lovely daughter, Claire (Hartford’s Lucy Powers), meet cute. To impress her, Ricky, wearing a Harvard T-shirt in Yale territory, unleashes a pack of lies about his educational and social status. His deception proves fruitful once Claire urges Pops to hire her new beau, who – fortuitously – is placed in charge of approving or denying health insurance claims.

Before you can say “fox in the hen house,” Ricky is rubber stamping almost every policyholder request, much to the consternation of his supervisor, and Gregory’s arrogant nephew, Tom Brent (Noel-Sullivan’s fellow Hartford filmmaker, Erik Bloomquist).

For me, this was more than enough plot to sustain the story. But Noel-Sullivan starts piling on with a cockamamie scenario in which Ricky, Sunita and Victor join forces to hack into Tom’s computer to both reinstate Ricky’s mom’s policy and skim off an additional $300,000 for themselves.

Obviously, Noel-Sullivan watched “Ocean’s 11” one too many times, which might have worked in his favor were he a more seasoned filmmaker. But he’s not, and his film starts to go off the rails once he allows his characters to be swallowed up by escalating falsehoods and ridiculous sleights of hand.

I can’t say I wasn’t intrigued, nor was I ever bored – just exasperated, particularly during a major third-act twist that is tossed in more for effect than meaning. This is where Copeland’s endless charm and appeal charge to the rescue. He’s a delight, which is pivotal since he’s in almost every scene. Whether the moment calls for comedy or a pinch of drama, Copeland nails it. Without him, “Midas” might well have been a disaster. With him, it’s a largely fun ride that, unlike a miserly insurance company, pays out in the end.

Movie review


Rated: Not rated

Cast: Laquan Copeland, Preet Kaur, Federico Perra, Erik Bloomquist, Lucy Powers and Bob Gallagher

Director: TJ Noel-Sullivan

Writer: TJ Noel-Sullivan

Runtime: 88 minutes

Where: In theaters June 28 (limited)

Grade: B-

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