Joe, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is a man who does what he needs to, providing he is paid. He has a job to do, and it is to track down missing girls who were taken in the name of sex trafficking. Most of the time he may not be successful in getting the girl, but he does exact vengeance when it is asked of him.
Joe, throughout the movie, does have some obvious issues. He takes care of his aged mother, and he remembers childhood trauma that causes him to risk his own life almost every night. There isn’t much given about his past, but the audience does see that there is one incident when he is working with either the military or after, that has caused him to take on the role of a paid savior.
This movie is a slow burn. It begins in a hotel room and ends in a diner. There are scenes which seem to be placed just to confuse the audience as to what is really going on, but overall it is a movie in something of the same vein as Leon: The Professional. Joe is sent to find and rescue Nina, the daughter of an elected official. Her father finds out who has taken his daughter and is understandably upset when he finds it is the man he is working on a campaign for. The man has been so taken with Nina that when she is rescued, she is immediately retrieved, setting off events that cause death to those Joe loves, and causing him to do what he has learned to do best, kill.
This movie was slow and weird, but there were several scenes that were interesting. One scene is Joe laying next to a man he has been fighting with. They are both laying on the floor, one dying and one exhausted from the fight. A song comes on and they both sing softly to it, holding hands as the man dies. There are several other intense scenes which makes one question the sanity of Joe, or what his plans are. He is searching for something, and in the end, like Leon had Matilda, Joe has Nine to save him from himself.
You Were Never Really Here is not a bad movie, but I don’t think everyone will enjoy it. It is a thought provoking movie, and for me, it made me wonder once again, about man’s inhumanity to man.