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Archive for the ‘Action Films’ Category

The American directed by Anton Corbijn; released in 2010

This is a very unique story. A man whose forte is guns, passion is women and on top of this, is wanted dead by more than one person. Put this together with the director of the dark Ian Curtis biopic, ‘Control’ and you have something that is a very interesting watch. Set in the idyllic Castelvecchio, a rural Italian town; which in hindsight isn’t the normal place to set a sort-of spy thriller in the mould of old spaghetti westerns,  Jack (George Clooney) is in hiding after recently disposing of a lover and two contract killers in Sweden. From the outset, you are presented a character who is confident but at the same time, confused with life. He is unsure that he has chosen the correct career, even though he is many years into it, which isn’t the best one that allows him to build relationships, which seems to be his favourite pastime. The film’s main theme though, which is not necessarily a theme, is the prolonged silences where the only thing you hear is the construction of a gun, footsteps of someone being followed or the firing of a gun. This, paired with the plot, makes for 95 minutes of total suspense. George Clooney’s career really has gone from strength to strength since playing Doug Ross in ‘E.R.’ over 15 years ago and his performance in this, is one that really makes him one of my favourite actors. He draws from his performance as the titular character in ‘Michael Clayton’, allowing for some very blunt, explosive dialogue which makes his character, an efficient arms expert, all that more believable. Throughout the film you are unable to decide on what you want the outcome to be, which when coupled with shots of the beautiful Italian landscape make the shocking ending that more despairing. The area shouldn’t be subjected to the arrival of violence, which makes the film that more exciting and brutal. His friendship with a local priest makes the subject matter even more controversial, resulting in each scene between Jack and Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) very cryptic. Constant questioning from the priest about Jack or Edward’s (alias’s play a big role in the life of a hit-man) life, make for some weird responses and seriously hamper the killer’s entire outlook on life. The blossoming romance between him and a local prostitute is again, due to the story, very tough but exciting to watch. You know from the beginning that any form of love interest for Jack will be, in the end, questioned, when whoever he falls for discovers or notices something to do with his line of work. The chemistry between him and Clara (Violante Placido) is thrilling and when Jack finally makes his choice about his chosen career, you know that something is going to go wrong. The film’s supporting cast is also good, most notably Thekla Reuten and Johan Leysen as Mathilde and Pavel, who both pull of the ‘so called friend’ role very well. I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to fans of Clooney, the director and westerns/thrillers. P.S. Don’t go into this film thinking you are going to be seeing a ‘Bourne’ paced thriller. You aren’t.

9/10

Observe and Report directed by Jody Hill; released in 2009

The guy who directed this was that guy, you know, that guy who went and got his mate in ‘Superbad’ when Seth got period blood on his trousers. That was probably the best intro to a review I have written so far. Okay, this film, is in the same sort of vain as an Apatow produced film but with a slightly darker feel to it. Think ‘Knocked Up’ meets ‘Die Hard’. That may sound ridiculous but with a cast that includes the star of Knocked Up, Seth Rogen and the portrayer of many famous criminals, Ray Liotta, it’s not hard to comprehend. The story is as follows, Rogen plays Ronnie, a mentally unstable mall cop, who sets himself the task of single handedly taking down a serial flasher. This may seem like it is going to be a happy-go-lucky story, where a young deranged cop wannabe, turns his life around and happily brings the penis shower down but to think this would show the film great offence. Like I said, he is deranged, lives at home with his alcoholic mum and is obsessed on becoming a cop. This causes him to go to such extremes as camping out in the mall, going undercover and trying to get the rest of his staff actual guns to police scared customers.  What I enjoyed most about this film was the performance from Seth Rogen, unlike his portrayal of Ben Stone in ‘Knocked Up’ and Zack in ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’, he is able to fully embody the personality of a lunatic, reminiscent of Jason Lee’s portrayal of Azrael in Kevin Smith’s ‘Dogma’ and Michael Cera’s psychopathic other half Francois Dillinger in ‘Youth in Revolt’. This makes for some extremely graphic scenes, including heavy gun use, substance abuse and the severe taking down of a local gang, which really highlights the destructive mind of Ronnie. It’s tough to become a policeman and with it comes the jealousy of many security workers throughout the world, which I really think this film is trying to point out. The lengths people will go to achieve the honour of becoming that person on the street who others turn to when in need is so strong, that when it is taking away from them, can really cause a complete life meltdown. This is captured well, not only by Rogen but also the surrounding cast, most notably Ray Liotta, who looks on as the man who Ronnie wants to be and who also I hope, subconsciously wants him to become the cop he deserves to be. At points this film is insanely laugh-out-loud hilarious, one scene in particular involving Rogen and Michael Pena – in a career best performance – when they choose to do what they want, abuse their bodies, destroy lives and teach others a lesson who have spat in their face. This film is billed as a comedy but I believe it is an extremely dark tale with comedy cleverly employed through great performances all round. I would happily recommend this film to fans of Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta and Apatow Productions.

8/10

The Amazing Spiderman directed by Mark Webb; released in 2012

Is it too easy to say that director Mark was able to cast his ‘Webb’ over the previously successful Spider-Man franchise? No. It isn’t too easy, as after being given the task of trying to out-do his predecessors, there was always going to be criticism; this film however, even though it does have the same plot as the original ‘Spider-Man’ (2002), is able to put a fresh spin on the historic character. With Andrew Garfield replacing Tobey Maguire and the screenwriters deciding to take Spidey back to high school, you are thrust into the world of a teenage boy, who after visiting his dad’s workplace, is unknowingly bitten and given the chance to live the life of a human-insect hybrid. Breathing fresh life into a film series that maybe didn’t need it, Andrew Garfield has successfully been able to portray the infamous Peter Parker in a tough loveable rogue sort of way, unlike the burden that Maguire believed it was. From the bite, he enjoys the power, loves chasing down bad guys and still has the time to create an arch-nemesis. What I enjoyed more about this film than the previous instalments was the coming-of-age spin on it. You see him grow into the Spider-Man character parallel to growing up and taking school exams unlike the past films which saw Maguire, already in a successful career, thrust into it. As he grows up, his powers become stronger and to the audiences enjoyment; he isn’t modest, he enjoys beating up criminals and borrowing from his portrayal of Eduardo Severin in the Facebook biopic ‘The Social Network’, is cruel and has the attitude that makes the enemy’s skin crawl. What I also loved about this film was the romance he has with Gwen Stacy, played by up and comer Emma Stone. Much like Webb’s previous directorial effort ‘500 Days of Summer’, he enables you to more than warm to the budding affection between the two and when the film reaches its explosive climax, understand the decisions made by both of them. Another great highlight of the film was the battle between Garfield and Rhys Ifans, who plays Dr. Kurt Connors, the man who decided to transform himself into a giant Lizard! The battles didn’t look like CGI, with choreography that could have been seen in other recent Marvel Films, such as ‘Captain America: First Avenger’ and ‘Thor’, as these included man on man, not Spider vs Lizard. The CGI though is used to great effect, leaping from building to building reminded me of Neo’s first leap in ‘The Matrix’; I would compare this films CGI to the ground-breaking effects seen in The Matrix Trilogy. A film that may not have been needed, with the previous trilogy of films still having undeveloped plotlines, I was surprised how much I enjoyed it! Andrew Garfield, a Spider-Man fan as a young boy, really has thrown his entire life into the character, which completely shines through during the entire 136 minute duration. I loved this film and even though it doesn’t go as dark as the recent Batman re-boot, it still has a darker feel to the previous instalments, which will hopefully be developed in the sequel, planned for 2014! I would recommend it to fans of the comic, the director and Andrew Garfield.

8/10

Minority Report directed by Steven Spielberg; released in 2002

 

Philip K. Dick’s work is adapted from book to screen every few years. From ‘Blade Runner’ to ‘Paycheck’, ‘Total Recall’ to ‘A Scanner Darkly’. It’s amazing to think that ‘Minority Report’s’ source material is older than the main star of the film, Tom Cruise. A story that was so far ahead of it’s time, even today, really shows how much of an influence Dick’s work has had on not only works of fiction but real life technology. The Precogs within the story have recently been echoed in technology to predict crimes based on personalities within the population and is nearly on the verge of being trialled in Washington D.C., the setting for the film. A complex film, which tells the story of John Anderton (Cruise), the main man within the Pre-Crime Division in the year 2054, who with a sad past is on a race against time to prove his name after being cruelly set-up by a close friend. I am a great fan of Science Fiction films and thankfully, without going to over the top, Steven Spielberg has delivered a film which questions reality and suggests a deeper meaning to the life and times of the people who police our streets. What sets this apart from other films within the genre is the emotions you feel towards Anderton, from beginning to end you are on the side of him and only him, never the people wanting to track him down, which I sometimes feel when watching action movies – this is due to the lack of character development and no real grasp on what the film is going out to achieve. Happily, for the entire 139 minute duration you find it hard to take your eyes from the screen, as you witness his life fall apart piece by piece and the team sent to track him down, which includes Colin Farrell, who is a cleverly hidden red herring, go from strength to strength; this makes the task of finding his ‘Minority Report’ seemingly impossible. What I also love about this film is the way it looks like a modern day piece, even though it is set in the future. Much like other science fiction films of recent times, ‘Moon’ and ‘Sunshine’, it isn’t so ridiculous in nature that it makes the premise seem unbelievable. Another great aspect of the film which helps it achieve a non-ridiculous nature is the special effects, from the futuristic weaponry to the hyper cars of a not to distant world, they all combine to present what is a great visual experience. The dark nature of the film, reminded me a lot of ‘Blade Runner’, each scene looks like a page torn from a comic book, this allowing you to experience it in a way that feels like you are the first. This film though does have to thank the source material, as without it, it would never have come into existence. It couldn’t have been written by a group of screenwriters, it could only have come from the brain of Philip K. Dick. Tom Cruise delivers a great portrayal of the broken Anderton and nearly delivers the performance of his career, second in my opinion to his portrayal as Vincent in ‘Collateral’. You fully believe his past, the loss of his son, the belief he has in the pre-crime initiative and the sense of betrayal when he discovers the ugly truth in the penultimate scene of the film. A great cast that includes Samantha Morton, Colin Farrell and Max Von Sydow, ‘Minority Report’ is one of my favourite films and therefore I would recommend it to anyone.

9/10

Attack the Block directed by Joe Cornish; released in 2011

In a year which saw the release of the final Harry Potter instalment and the new Mission:Impossible, it may be a film packed full of unknown future stars which steals all the attention. ‘Attack the Block’ tells the story of a gang of youths from a council estate in South London, who, after carrying out a mugging are attacked by what seems to be an extraterrestrial. The comedic background of director Joe Cornish shines through, as he is able to make a film that could be the distant love-child of Shaun of the Dead and Alien vs Predator. What sets this film apart from other science fiction films is the opposition to the scary creatures who have decided to invade South London – a gang of immature teenagers with criminal tendencies. The banter is spot on and is pretty much what you would hear on the streets therefore I recommend any elderly women do not watch this film, as it may bring back memories of abuse suffered in supermarkets from local kids! The banter flows throughout the film and you grow to love the characters, even if they are the sort of people you would choose to avoid when out in your daily routine. Action scenes that play on the youthful nature of the film also set it apart from big action blockbusters of the past; Die Hard saw John McClane fight numerous terrorists AND Alan Rickman while in this two children hide in a bin! This allows you to grasp the rural nature of the goings on and fully believe the task that the locals have been given, in not only escaping from the scary alien but also having a go at trying to defeat it. The film’s similarities with Edgar Wright’s ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Shaun of the Dead’ are visible, the interactions between the characters have a truth, which thanks to a great script allow friendships to have believable backgrounds. This is not taking away from Joe Cornish though, who with his own comedic background guides you on a whirlwind 88 minute real-time adventure, which again adds to the realism and emotive nature of the scenes. Individual performances are great aswell, the cast of unknown teenage actors all have their own unique skills; John Boyega is courageous and maybe a tad bit to big for his boots as Moses, Jodie Whittaker is scared yet accepting as Sam the muggee, Luke Treadaway is funny and out of his comfort zone as the stoner Luke and Nick Frost in a cameo as weed dealer Ron is his funny old self, reminiscent of his portrayals as Ed in ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and Danny in ‘Hot Fuzz’. The main draw though for this film is the performances of the young cast, which overall is a great advocate for British cinema. I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to fans of Joe Cornish’ comedy duo ‘Adam and Joe’, the films of Edgar Wright, British Cinema and the science fiction genre.

8/10

Manhunter directed by Michael Mann; released in 1986

June 21, 2012 1 comment

Being a fan of the Hannibal franchise of movies over the past 20 years, I thought it was time to see the original, the one without Anthony Hopkins playing the infamous Hannibal Lecter. This film however, is different, in a sense that Lecter or ‘Lecktor’ in this adaptation of the book ‘Red Dragon’ hardly features the psychopathic human eater, this doesn’t though take away from the films creepy eerie feel and the fact that it is a great film. William Petersen stars as Will Graham, a man torn apart by his past involving the legendary cannibal. He is forced out of retirement to take on a case involving a man being dubbed the ‘Tooth Fairy’ and from then on has to deal with him, Hannibal and his own demons. This film has such a weird atmospheric feel to it, much like later Mann films, the way it is shot plays with your emotions and really makes you connect with the characters as they are taken on the grizzly journey involving death and the challenge the police face. It also really reminded me of the battle Pacino and DeNiro have in ‘Heat’ and Foxx and Cruise have in ‘Collateral’ but due to the fact this film pre-dates those by 10 and 20 years respectively, it has such a rough and scary feel to it that Graham’s own demons have an even greater battle with him than anyone. This is not helped by the fact he has to talk with Leckter, played in this film by Brian Cox, who in my opinion portrays the monster in a more sinister way than Hopkins and one that truly scared me, even though he is in the film for less than 15-20 minutes. The way he speaks completely embodies evil and through this and Cox’s performance, you are able to imagine the relationship and horrific past experiences he and Will have had together; this is the cherry on the icing of an already chilling movie. Another great aspect of Mann’s films are the soundtracks, they help it move at a pace that at points make it nearly unbearable to watch – this at it’s greatest when the film comes to it’s terrific climax. The song ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida‘ by Iron Butterfly makes it mesmerising viewing, the way in which Tom Noonan has no fear of the police coming to get him, is embodied in the music and lyrics of the song, ‘Oh, won’t you come with me And take my hand, Oh, won’t you come with me And walk this land, Please take my hand’, relates to his frame of mind at the time; his confused love for the blind character of Reba McClane who is played frightfully by a young Joan Allen. A film that received mediocre reviews on release and then gained a cult following throughout the years is one that is definite viewing for fans of cinema. Fans of the Hannibal franchise may be put off by the lack of screen time for their hero but this will be made up by the film’s overall scary and action packed nature. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to fans of Michael Mann, CSI and the Hannibal franchise.

8/10

Prometheus directed by Ridley Scott; released in 2012

As a huge fan of the original ‘Alien’ series of films I was eager to see what Ridley Scott was going to do with the new film ‘Prometheus’. With a cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Guy Pearce and Idris Elba, unsurprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed it. The film’s premise pre-dates ‘Alien’, as the crew of the ship Prometheus are sent to an outer solar system to discover the true origin of life itself. What I enjoyed most about the film was the detailed plot, that is delivered very understandably by all the cast. The film starts off slowly, which when looking back may account for the fact the crew have spent two years in hypersleep to reach their destination and when woken are still coming to grips with their crew-mates, situation and adjusting their brain but happily, after a shocking discovery, the film’s action, suspense and true scariness builds up. The film is truly scary, I found the first deaths of two crew members and the ‘abortion’ that occurs to be sickening to watch and helped it pay homage to it’s predecessor. It also reminded me of many recent space set films, such as ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Moon’ which, set in the not to distant future aren’t made to look too ridiculous, which this, with the aid of some great CGI and costumes completely matches and at some points is even more believable. As much as I loved the film, the only let-down was the predictability of the plot, which even though is acted well, didn’t add anything to the ‘Alien’ premise. There could have been something more, something that could have taken this film to another level. Don’t go into this film thinking it is going to be better than the original, it isn’t, it’s different. There are obvious parts of the film which are there to remind you of the original series and keep you grounded but these are few and far between; the film’s action is brilliant and very enjoyable. It could have turned into a slasher movie but due to great performances, it doesn’t, the deaths of many of the crew are needed, which makes the climax all that more sad to watch. Michael Fassbender’s performance as David, the android sent to accompany the crew (saying he is a robot isn’t a spoiler, it is stated at the beginning), is by the far the stand out within the film. He is able to convince the crew of his handiness but due to being a robot has been sent a real task, which makes his performance tough to watch. So human-like but nothing like a human, he pulls it off well, better than Ian Holm in ‘Alien’ and it also reminded me of the performance of Matt Damon as Bourne; extremely efficient but unable to comprehend why. Another great aspect of the film was the performance from the British trio of Idris Elba, Sean Harris and Rafe Spall, who hold their own against a big international cast and showed grit, sadness and excitement throughout. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Prometheus’ and really believe it will rejuvenate interest in the original series and thankfully has plenty of inklings to think there could be a sequel or maybe even a new quadrilogy of films. I would recommend it to fans of science-fiction films, the original series and Michael Fassbender.

8/10