Thelma review: "A smart senior thriller with shades of Little Miss Sunshine"

June Squibb in Thelma (2024)
(Image: © Universal)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

June Squibb’s warm but wily gran-with-a-plan turns this elder-scam revenge spree into a winning comedy.

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Good things come to those who wait. Few have waited as long, however, as June Squibb (Inside Out 2), a pistol-packing first-time leading lady in her early 90s. The Nebraska (2013) Oscar nominee is the motor driving this wildly charming revenge-com. 

Squibb's Thelma is a sweet but stubborn LA oldster scammed out of $10,000 by a fake caller requesting bail for her grandson Danny. Suddenly, she’s on a runaway vengeance spree, with pensioner pal Ben (a deadpan Richard Roundtree in a worthy last role for the Shaft star) reluctantly riding shotgun when she hijacks his two-seater disability scooter. 

First-time writer/director Josh Margolin sharpens the film into a smart senior thriller, giving us tense geriatric POVs of the challenges that ensue (Thelma is seriously old, not the agile seventy-something of The G, another recent granny-get-your-gun outing). Thus, a careering care-home scooter chase, a nail-biting furniture climb to swipe a weapon, and a thudding face-plant fall all have the feel of high-stakes Mission: Impossible action sequences (aided by Nick Chuba’s sly, Lalo-Schifrin-alike score).

There’s a warm Little Miss Sunshine feel about the bond between Thelma and Danny (The White Lotus’s Fred Hechinger) as he hares after her. But Margolin doesn’t swerve the old-age pain of losing spouses and freedom, as Ben and Thelma bond and bicker their way toward a senior showdown. Squibb’s just-right combo of cosiness and crafty determination keeps sentimentality at bay, letting the film show the everyday heroism of ageing (she did her own stunts, too, à la Cruise). So go call your granny; better still, take her to see this. 

Thelma is released in UK cinemas on July 19 and is in US theaters now. For more, check out our list of upcoming movies.

Freelance Writer

Kate is a freelance film journalist and critic. Her bylines have appeared online and in print for GamesRadar, Total Film, the BFI, Sight & Sounds, and