HOLLYWOOD—I like Tyler Perry as an entertainer. He knows how to make some intriguing TV shows and films that make you think and keep you invested. His latest flick “Tyler Perry’s Mea Culpa” might be one of his boldest to date. It gave me slight shades of “Acrimony” which starred Taraji P. Henson, but his latest flick is a steamier thriller with some shocking moments.

The movie follows criminal defense attorney Mea Harper (Kelly Rowland). I had to think for a second if Rowland had previously acted and I couldn’t think of anything, but then I realized she had appeared in a bevy of films, one of the first I can recall is “Freddy vs. Jason” from 2023 where she battled horror titans Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees.

Rowland is gorgeous in the movie; she is a serious knockout and she has a knack for being a fiery attorney, but that is more apparent when she is dealing with her marriage and in-laws, not so much at her workplace. She gives off the vibe of a boss, but I think she could have been bossier. The narrative follows Mea as she grapples with representing artist Zyair (Trevante Rhodes). Rhodes portrays Zyair as an enigma, but the character felt flat at times, there was a lack of charisma from the actor. The audience is supposed to question this character’s intent and I wanted more from the actor in terms of the performance. The big question the audience is tasked with is if he murdered his girlfriend?

In comes Mea, who is uncertain about taking the case because it is a conflict with her brother-in-law Ray (Nick Sagar), who just happens to be the District Attorney prosecuting the case. The character of Ray is very one-note, we don’t get much from him beyond his ego is much larger than what it should be. It doesn’t help that Mea’s marriage to Kal (Sean Sager) is on the rocks. Not to mention Kal has been fired from his job and is keeping that massive secret from his family, which Mea has not yet disclosed.

Those fractures in the marriage make it easier for Zyair to ease his way into Mea’s thoughts and emotions. Is there chemistry between Rowland and Rhodes? Yes, but I expected even more fiery chemistry considering the level of eroticism this movie delivers. Let me just say there is a paint scene in the movie that absolutely blew my mind; it was unlike anything I have ever seen on film and left me stunned.

The mystery element that Perry crafts here is very entertaining and holds your interest. You really have the pieces to question if Zyair is guilty or perhaps, he’s a sociopath. My gripe is the big climax is sellable, but I wanted something more. It really needed it to land and have higher stakes for a thriller of this nature. It goes from really solid storytelling to a wild twist that makes you say, “Really?” Some of the acting is a little flat; it should be a bit more visceral considering the nature of the movie. It works, but if the performances were stronger, it would have delivered that knockout that satisfies the viewer.

Some have been calling this one of Tyler Perry’s worst films to date. I have to disagree because it is not horrid, but not as polished as one hopes, but I give major kudos to Perry for crafting a thriller that does indeed hook you and keeps you intrigued throughout. It was a pleasant treat to see Angela Robinson who worked with Perry on his hit OWN series “The Haves and the Have Nots.” Her character Veronica Harrington was one of a kind, and she showcases her talent yet again in a small, but fun role that I would have loved to see more integral to the narrative of the movie.

Definitely not a flick for kids, but “Tyler Perry’s Mea Culpa” satisfied me as a viewer and held my attention from start to finish which is a victory in my eyes.