Cert: 15 Runtime: 115 mins Director: Doug Liman Cast: Tom Cruise, Dohmnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, Caleb Landry Jones and Jesse Plemons
The CIA. The White House. Pablo Escobar. One Man Played Them All
After the epic fail Tom Cruise had with The Mummy a few months ago, Tom Cruise has returned with American Made. It really came under the radar for a lot of people. American Made was one of the top scripts from the Blacklist in 2014, and went from a Ron Howard project to Doug Liman of Edge.of.Tomorrow fame. The trailer made it look entertaining but is it? So what is American Made all about? Barry Seal (Tom Cruise), a TWA pilot, is recruited by the CIA to provide reconnaissance on the burgeoning communist threat in Central America and soon finds himself in charge of one of the biggest covert CIA operations in the history of the United States. The operation spawns the birth of the Medellin cartel and almost brings down the Reagan White House.
American Made is thrilling, fun and OTT! This is a relentlessly energised and seriously fun examination of the true life story of Barry Seal. Liman and Cruise took a gamble and went for something different other than an awards baiting or dialogue heavy expose has paid off hugely, with American Made easily becoming one of the year’s most purely fun and enjoyable rides. This is a very different kind of biopic and that’s what makes it exciting. Liman really brings out the flare here, he brings a dynamic look to the film. The action sequences are thrilling, the air-plane scenes are pretty intense acrobatic ballets. The film’s story is not only engaging but also witty and hilarious. There are hardly any stagnant moments so the probability of you getting bored is very low. At one point you will question is anything else going to happen? Just planes, drugs and trying to launder money….well it does improve. Cruise’s natural talents for comedy and when mixed with his easy going charisma that has made him such a beloved acting figure, Seal offers Cruise one of his best and most interesting roles in his long and varied career.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 123 mins Director:Paul Greengrass Cast: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed and Tommy Lee Jones
I remember. I remember everything
After the terrible Bourne Legacy! Matt Damon has returned to the Bourne franchise along with the shaky cam professional Paul Greengrass. I have never been the biggest fan of this franchise but any time Matt Damon makes a movie I’ll give it a whirl. So what is Jason Bourne about? Having discovered his true identity at the end of 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason has gone off the grid. But an unexpected sequence of events involving former associate Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) compel him to come out of hiding and embark on a relentlessly exciting global journey, one that may lead to him to ever-more important revelations about his identity.
Jason Bourne was most definitely a Bourne film! But not with enough Bourne in it (Gareth Edwards Godzilla style!). It’s a decent movie don’t get me wrong, but it was far too preachy about privacy. It truly is the hot topic of our modern age but there is no need to gush it down the audience’s throat. Paul Greengrass was rather tame with his shaky cam here, but he is really good at directing action. The Athens and Vegas scenes in particular were fantastic, well executed and edited! This is a fast paced film with a few bumps on the way. Matt Damon and Vincent Cassel are excellent in the action scenes. Alicia Vikander was a good addition to the film, she was very monotone but I think it was to do with her character. It was always good to see Tommy Lee Jones in a movie, but it wasn’t anything special. The character of Jason Bourne is not that interesting of a character, however, which is not the fault of Matt Damon but Jason Bourne looking for his past life is getting old. There is apparently some closure for Bourne and perhaps Bourne will be able to find new motivations now.
Cert: 12A Runtime: 112 mins Director: Jeff Nichols Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Jaeden Lieberher, Adam Driver and Kirsten Dunst
He’s not like us
Jeff Nichols is a film-maker that has eluded me! Midnight Special grabbed my attention from the get go and has received glittering acclaim. Cinema is full of superheroes and re-makes these days and not much original cinema. Midnight Special seems to break the mould. So what is Midnight Special about? Roy (Michael Shannon) deeply loves his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) – but Alton has a secret that soon puts both of them in danger. The child has remarkable abilities that reach beyond human understanding, and soon Roy must go on the run from a dangerous religious sect headed up by Calvin Meyer (Sam Shephard). Scientist Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) is also in pursuit, believing the boy to be a dangerous weapon. Fortunately, both father and son have staunch allies in the form of accomplice Lucas (Joel Edgerton) and the former’s ex-wife Sarah (Kirsten Dunst).
Midnight Special is strikingly mesmerizing, you have no build up at all just stuck in this tale. The first forty minutes your brain is trying to comprehend what you are seeing. You are left with a bitter taste in your mouth at the end as not everything is answered. Rather getting the answers spoon-fed to you, your brain has to work and I enjoyed that. Midnight Special is refreshing sci-fi and utterly Spielbergian! It’s a great homage to the family sci-fi tale with a modern twist. Jeff Nichols is definitely a film-maker to keep an eye out for. He wrote and directed this film, it’s utterly admirable. The opening scene is utterly brilliant and your brain is going a 100 miles a minute.The film flows at a slow pace but when the focal scenes happen your adrenaline is pumping. Each shot is utterly beautiful and natural. Midnight Special has a great themes of religion, belief and family. My only gripe is that some fragments of the tale are too thin, and some characters are underused.
Michael Shannon is phenomenal as Roy, I’ve never been his biggest fan but he is growing on me. A frequent collaborator with Jeff Nichols. He plays a man who doesn’t understand what his son is, but knows he must help him to get to his destination. The relationship between him and Jaeden Lieberher is utterly precious and organic. He can do so much with his facial expression and stance. I will be watching Take Shelter straight after this review! I did enjoy Joel Edgerton too, he seems to be becoming more credible as an actor. I will be intrigued to see him in Nichols next venture Loved. Jaeden Lieberher is a great young actor, his transition from naive-ish boy to a boy who understands his purpose. It’s very messiah-esk in all honesty, you could even say it’s the Nativity tale with a sci-fi twist. But this is utterly interpretive from my end! I did enjoy Adam Driver here, he is like the audience building the pieces but obviously in an intellectual way. Kirsten Dunst was rather underused through out, I wish she was more focal. Midnight Special is a great think piece and great original cinema. If you like slow burning sci-fi this is for you, if you love cinema go watch it! A great addition to 2016 films!
Cert: 12A Runtime: 116 mins Director: Guy Ritchie Cast: Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris and Hugh Grant
This is NOT the Russian way
Guy Ritchie has come back into cinema with The Man From U.N.C.L.E, we haven’t seen a picture from him since 2011. The first trailer for the film caught my eye and it came across like a lot of fun. Cinema is full of hard action, super heroes and serious dramas. But what ever happened to the fun movies? I was secretly hoping U.N.C.L.E would be it. My grandfather was a fan of the show back in the day but I never really watched it. If a good man like my grandfather gave it a thumbs up I’m sure I will like it. So what is The Man from U.N.C.L.E about? CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and his KGB counterpart Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) find they must put aside their differences. Their common enemy is a sinister, shadowy criminal organisation with far-reaching tentacles.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E was a lot of fun Guy Ritchie has made an interesting espionage film. It provides a lot of comic relief and it’s a great homage to the spy films of the 60’s. It’s such a colourful film very vivid and bright, it captures the aesthetics of the period. The opening sequence in Berlin gives the tempo of the whole film and from the get go it sustains itself. It’s utterly charming and witty but the sense of action remains distinctive, the Guy Ritchie effect oozes throughout the movie. As for characters, I thought they were all great. Henry Cavill is very charismatic and fun to watch being the cocky American spy. Armie Hammer caught me off guard a little at first with his accent, but it grew on me and became enjoyable. Alicia Vikander, who I, like many, first took notice of in Ex Machina, was fantastic and should continue to be seeing great roles offered to her. The chemistry was great between the three and really propelled the movie going forward.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E is no masterpiece but still enjoyable. The curse of the 2015 villains continue Elizabeth Debicki was dull. She had money, she was glamorous and she was meh meh meh. The other issue is that the film is a bit long for what it is but it isn’t that dull these sections. The finale was a bit underwhelming too I was expecting a gigantic battle but it was a car chase. Bar that if you want some fun go watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E! I do hope Warner Brothers and Guy Ritchie make a sequel it does have a lot of potential as a trilogy I’d imagine. It’s by far one of the better releases of the summer so far.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 120 mins Director: Paul Feig Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne Miranda Hart, Jude Law, Jason Statham and 50 Cent
I look like someone’s homophobic aunt!
Another Melissa McCarthy movie you say? No thanks! This has been the main conversation the movie going public say these days. Tammy was awful, Identity Thief was terrible, St. Vincent was ok. The main grasp of Spy for me was Paul Feig. This man is helming the female comedy revolution at the moment but he is re-making Ghostbusters and I don’t like him for that. Spy has received a lot of rave reviews by critics. This has been the saving grace of the film in my opinion. What is Spy about then? Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a middle-aged desk-bound CIA analyst, who is the agency’s unsung hero behind their most dangerous missions. However, when one of her colleagues, the James Bond-like Bradley Fine (Jude Law) is killed during by lethal enemy agent Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), she decides to go out into the field to avenge his death. Sent out undercover, Cooper must infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent a global disaster.
The writing was good, the one liners in the movie has to be funniest one liners I’ve heard since the movie Whiplash and some of jokes really worked. The movie’s pacing was fast and never slow. One of the problems in modern comedies is how dragging the pacing and jokes are. In this movie, they feel refreshing. I don’t know about you, but Paul Feig’s direction of the action scenes are golden for a comedy like this. He also pulls off some cool one liners in the script. Some of the jokes in the movie are sometimes predictable and just fell flat to me. I know this may sound like a small little nick pick to most people but the movie has a James Bond like opening just like Bond films always open but of cause this movie does it’s own take on it and it really wasn’t all that good, as I said before it’s a small little nick pick but it could have been a lot better. This may be a spoof of spy movies, but it can also be viewed simply as a spy movie that happens to have a female lead. Many of the same plot devices are used. But, as with any movie, what matters are the characters and whether or not we care about what happens to them. This movie basically ends with the lead and two other supporting characters walking off into the sunset.
Melissa McCarthy is back on form in “Spy”, you immediately take a liking to her delightful Susan Cooper and you will be rooting for her for the whole film. Make no mistake, the familiar foul-mouthed McCarthy persona does make an appearance.Even if the marvellous physical comedy skills of Melissa McCarthy is front and centre on display here, you also cannot ignore the comedic talent displayed by the other actors in the cast, many of whom are more known for dramatic roles. Rose Byrne was so on point as the mega-snooty Raina Boyanov, so funny in her straight-faced over-the-top alpha-bitchy mode. The rich comedic rapport McCarthy and Byrne had with each other as mortal nemeses certainly buoyed the middle act. It was so surprising that this glamorous actress is not averse to physical comedy.My unexpected favorite in the cast is Jason Statham and his uncharacteristic portrayal of abrasive CIA Agent Rick Ford. We usually see him as the strong and silent macho hero taking up the cudgels of the oppressed in his many action films. He is still strong and macho, but whoa, Statham is definitely NOT silent here! This must be the first time I have heard him deliver lines in mile-a-minute speed as he proudly relates his many incredible career exploits. Jude Law was right in his element as Bradley Fine, a suave, tuxedo-clad secret agent and charming ladykiller. Give Spy a go people!
Cert: R Runtime: 112 mins Director: Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg Cast: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Lizzy Caplan, Diana Bang and Randall Park
“Please do not believe these ignorant dishonorable Americans!”
The Interview has had the greatest free add campaign in the history of cinema in my opinion. With the great Sony gate continuing at the moment, we all wondered will The Interview actually get released? Well it was a little Christmas treat it came out on VOD on Christmas Eve and then a cinematic release on Christmas Day in the states. I did spend a few hours of my Christmas day watching it on VOD as a gift to myself. So what is The Interview about then? Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) run the popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim Jong-un (Randall Park).
James Franco and Seth Rogen work great together obviously because of all the years they have worked together and they play off each other perfectly here. Rogen is good as the straight man and Franco is good as the idiot of the duo. I think this is Franco’s best performance as the idiot in the duo.The humor in it when it works it brings some solid laughs. It does have some great one liners that I’m sure people will be using as soon as they watch the movie. While most of it is of the crude sex variety, it really works. There is some satire here revolving around politics and celebrity media which was enjoyable to a degree. The movie has good scope and it is shot well.
I feel the movie drops the ball on most of the satire though. While some moments worked, I feel the movie was juggling way too much to really be an effective lampoon when it switches between the CIA, the US, North Korea, action and spy movies, and celebrity media. It feels disjointed in its effectiveness so it lacks impact in its jokes along with all the other jokes missing the mark also. The middle act lags quite a bit making the movie drag for that section of the film. All in all The Interview is worth a watch, maybe just to fill the worlds curiosity.