Cert: 15 Runtime: 90 mins Director: Ben Wheatley Cast: Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Brie Larson, Sharlto Copley, Michael Smiley and Noah Taylor
You want the weapons? Or you don’t want the weapons?
Ben Wheatley is a film-maker I respect and admire. High-Rise and Sightseers are probably the two best British films of the last ten years. Free Fire is his latest with Martin Scorsese executive producing this is
his first big film IMO. This is a true stellar international cast to boot. Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley to name a few Free Fire was a must watch. So what is Free Fire about? In America in 1978, Justine (Larson) has arranged a deal on behalf of two Irishmen (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) to buy a stash of guns from gangsters Vernon (Copley) and Ord (Hammer), but then there’s a misunderstanding and shots are fired… The standout cast have great fun with this shoot-’em-up and the playful script’s wry dialogue as the manic standoff escalates into a bloody game of survival.
Free Fire is an absolute riot from start to finish. The pace is established from the get go as once we are introduced to the characters things go bonkers immediately. As the film continues some character motivations are made clearer which may lead one to question who’s side anyone is actually on. Whereas some are left in the dark to let the audience ponder at their own freewill. Shooting starts due to past events that resurface after two gang members come face to face leaving a road of destruction in their wake.Free Fire has top notch sound design, Wheatley gives his audience a sense of space within a confined environment in which I feel he purposely neglects in his visual representations. The action on screen is messy and convoluted to a point that fits the narrative of what comes to be every man for himself.
It’s impossible to determine who is where and therefore who’s side anybody is actually on. At first I found this to be a problem when watching but giving it some afterthought I came to realise what Mr. Wheatley was aiming for. Using direction of sound to determine each players position on the board. It’s quite an ambitious directing choice but I believe Wheatley more than pays off. Free Fire is a thrilling, hilarious, action packed ball of insanity that is not without it’s flaws, mostly with Brie Larson’s character as I feel she was kind of sidelined without much to do, she was certainly left too much in the shadows, I would have liked to see more of her. Of course the moments she had on screen were definitely benefiting. But my willingness to look past them as they’re not too major is my sheer enjoyment of the movies denouement which had me smiling from ear to ear so much that my jaw started hurting. It’s no High-Rise or Sightseers but it does show how talented Ben Wheatley is.
Cert: 18 Runtime: 96 mins Director: Ilya Naishuller Cast: Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett, Tim Roth, Danila Kozlovsky and Andrei Dementiev
Each year one hundred thousand baseball bats are sold in Russia, and at most 50 baseballs. Gives an idea for great Russian pastime
To begin I like many reviews here need to clarify what this film is so you are not mistaken. This film is exactly what the trailers show, a shaky, violent and very motion jarring film. The trailers aren’t just exaggerated it is how the movie was actually filmed, by literally strapping a camera mount to a stunt actors face. Being a avid movie-goer and gamer I had no problems with the fast motion nature BUT I have heard it does give people motion sickness and headaches so make sure before you watch! What is Hardcore Henry then? Awoken by his wife (Haley Bennett) he soon finds himself being shot at before his wife is kidnapped. Held hostage by a group of mercenaries headed up by a warlord by the name of Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), Henry must fight to get her back.
First person perspective has been used multiple times in cinema, mainly to conjure a sense of involvement, but none had used it as ambitious as “Hardcore Henry”. It’s entirely done in first person view and an appreciated tribute to gamer. This is a full blown mayhem, the fans of fast pace action would certainly love it although there’s a couple of flaws that hamper it ascension.The movie wants to put audience in the eye of Henry, the silent protagonist of typical action games. It’s a fun ride through car chase, foot chase, shooting alley, shooting in the open space and everything else in between. Some minute details are incredibly effective to get the immersion right, these might happen a bit too over-the-top but the result is undeniable.As much as I want to praise it completely, those who want more flair in narrative might not be content, still one would know what to expect when seeing this movie. It also has a few odd transitions that otherwise would be more fluid if done in traditional fashion. Having viewed in first person while things explode nearby is inevitably hectic. The silent protagonist shtick might work for immersion but the characterisation department takes a hit.”Hardcore Henry” is an ambitious project, it doesn’t reach utter greatness due to inherent limitations, and nevertheless it’s one ridiculously amazingly enjoyable ride.
Cert: 18 Runtime: 95 mins Director: Jeremy Saulnier Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Callum Turner,Joe Cole, Macon Blair and Mark Webber
Tell somebody who gives a shit
Jeremy Saulnier came to great acclaim with Blue Ruin a few years ago, I liked it originally but I have grown to respect a like it much more now. His latest Green Room has hit the cinematic world by storm, receiving some great reviews and acclaim. The icing on the cake for Green Room was the casting of Patrick Stewart as a bad guy. If that doesn’t sell you tickets then I don’t know what will? So what is Green Room about? Punk rock band the Ain’t Rights are on a gruelling tour of US dives. Hungry and running out of cash, they’re on the verge of calling it quits when their booker offers them a roadhouse show off the beaten track in Oregon. They’re suitably alarmed to find the venue teeming with malevolent skinheads. The band just about survive their show, but things get even worse when they stumble across a murder backstage. Suspecting that they won’t make it out alive, they barricade themselves in with a young audience member (Imogen Poots) who also fears for her life.
Along with High-Rise and Victoria this has to be one of my films of the year! Green Room is a completely different slasher film when it comes to narrative. Not a single frame is wasted on unnecessary background, boring exposition dumps or contrived wrap-ups and explanations. Everything that can and should be known about the characters, and the story itself is implied visually. It’s be hard to genrephie this film as a simple and effective horror film or a solid suspense film. It’s both and neither. When the story comes to a crossroads, it always veers towards tactile suspense over outright gore. The dread is personified by Patrick Stewart who does a tremendous job playing against type as the club’s true-believer owner. Unlike the majority of his underlings, who respond to the adrenaline poisoning their veins, Stewart’s Darcy is always collected. It’s as if he’s done this kind of thing before and has no compunction making a group of washout twenty-somethings disappear. Even if that means losing a couple of hungry pitbulls in the process.
Green Room won’t be for everyone, it does contain some very shocking gore. It’s very seldom you see so much of it, for me I liked it. It’s always refreshing to see such a good chamber movie. Jeremy Saulnier is a film-maker for the future, he does have a Nicolas Windig Refn aspect to him. The tension through out Green Room from beginning to end leaves you glued to the screen. If Saulnier continues to create such gripping cinema then I am sure he will be revered as a master of the 21st century. I would highly advise anyone to go and watch Green Room.If you’re not light-hearted and you appreciate the proper use of hard hitting violence in a movie, if you like it when a movie grabs you by the gut and won’t let go, and if constant edge-of-the-seat feeling is something you seek in your viewing experience, then this movie is definitely for you.
Cert: 18 Runtime: 150 mins Director: Gareth Evans Cast: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Alex Abbad, Oka Antara, Julie Estelle and Donny Alamsyah
You apologize! In their language, in our land! Where is your honour?
Gareth Evans created something so fresh a few years ago, which we call The Raid. Personally one of the best action films that I have ever seen! When I heard of a sequel being made I was rather surprised, do we really need a second? All I could imagine more blood, more martial arts and more crazy situations. After fighting his way through a gangster-infested building in ‘The Raid’, Indonesian cop Rama (Iko Uwais) barely has time to pause for breath before his next mission. With the lives of his wife and son at stake, Rama is forced by his ruthless superiors to infiltrate the criminal underworld. His task is to expose corrupt cops and politicians pulling the strings. To get started, he adopts a new identity and serves time in a filthy, violent jail so as to befriend Ucok (Arifin Putra) – the swaggering son of a crime boss.
Fans like me of the first film regard “The Raid: Redemption” as a nonstop action extravaganza. Those fans must be warned that this film does not try to recreate the same tone and pace of the first film. Although this is a sequel, it in many ways bears little resemblance to the heart-pounding original. What Gareth Evans is trying to accomplish is a larger scope ensemble piece that diminishes the screen time of our main protagonist. The pacing is deliberately slow to find nuance in moments of confrontation or other plot revelation. This also lengthens many scenes of plot development that work their way through. There are betrayals, ambushes, and many scenes of stewing tension. Many many scenes. Evans also edited this film, and this is certainly a director’s cut at 150 minutes. I would not fault much with the pacing in general for an ambitious long unfolding saga, but the audience must be prepared for the film to take it’s time in the telling of the story.
Perhaps Evans overreached in his effort to make an epic masterpiece. I felt that things were getting too drawn out in all the supporting characters subplots. It also made one yearn for another action scene to arrive quicker, as the dialogue scenes seemed to drag, especially near the end. I think if Evans let himself be a little more ruthless in condensing the drama in order to find a more energetic tone like the first film, it would feel a little more solid. Having allowed for the director’s ambitions, he certainly shows depth in staging character drama and eliciting good performances from his actors. There are many well choreographed large fight sequences that do an excellent job of moving the camera around to capture the cacophony. Some select shots venture into graphic novel territory, with large Tarantino-Esque fonts and dramatic angles. However, these shots are few and far between, instead finding mostly nervous hand-held shots supplying the bulk of the cinematography.
I also enjoyed the element of surprise as it was hard to know what to expect next as the layers of characters do their next dirty deed. I just wish Evans didn’t push things in the drama to the length of near exhaustion as everyone eventually gets their due. When I compare epic gangster films like “Goodfellas”, “The Godfather”, with all of them clocking in over 2 1/2 hours, they have better pacing than this film. So unfortunately it is hard to recommend this as an action film, but would find it engaging for someone willing to immerse themselves in a story of corruption and rival gangsters looking for betrayal and revenge. The extreme violence the first film was known for is evident here, but does not break much new ground. There is an innovative sequence with a lady wielding two sharp claw hammers, but didn’t wow me. The other moments of shock come from a bad guy getting his head blown off on screen, and perhaps another bad guy eating a baseball bat. So our protagonist seems to have superpowers as he rises to the level of your typical indestructible hero that audiences have grown accustom to in typical action films.
Cert: 15 Runtime: 102 mins Director: Noam Murro Cast: Sullivan Stapelton, Eva Green, Lena Hadley, Hans Matheson and Rodrigo Santoro
Better we show them, we chose to die on our feet, rather than live on our knees!
Zack Snyder created a film that captivated audiences in 2008, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name. Do we really need another? personally I don’t think so! So what is it all about? More than 30 years before the events of ‘300’, the Greeks and Persians clash at the pivotal Battle of Marathon. Still a young man, the future Persian God King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) mourns the death of his father as he falls under the influence of feisty, ambitious naval commander Artemisia (Eva Green). She witnessed her entire family being slaughtered and now burns for vengeance. Meanwhile, general Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) sets out to bring together the disunited Greek nation states and avenge the death of King Leonidas.If you’ve ever had an intense want or need to see a poorly choreographed sequence where a man and a woman engage in hand to hand combat while simultaneously having intercourse, then “300: Rise of an Empire” may be right up you alley. “300: Rise of an Empire” pretty much gives fans what they came to see: unrealistic violence, men with no shirts and all around graphic novel inspired visuals. But director Noam Murro does throw in his own healthy dose of uninspired casting and a few misogynistic visuals (I genuinely feel awful for those women who were dragged to see this).
Aside from violence which repeatedly slipped back and forth between cool violence and stupid violence, another annoyance stems from the fact that these films are predicated on the slow motion effect, an effect so prevalent and overbearing here that even when characters are simply standing around and chatting, there are floating embers (and dust particles during interiors) in the background, in a constant state of slow motion. There is also a term going around called “speed ramping”, which is when a character on screen begins performing an action in slow motion, but gradually “ramps” up to normal speed in order to give more epic emphasis to the action. This is another overdone effect sprinkled indiscriminately throughout.That said, the story is actually pretty well constructed. At least it kept my interest. “300: Rise of an Empire”, a storyline which interestingly enough occurs simultaneously with its predecessor but in a different location, follows Greek general Themistokles as his small army goes head to head with the seemingly endless Persian army, lead by the bloodthirsty, fetish gear wearing Eva Green and that bald, tan guy with a super deep voice. But again, I don’t feel that most people who go see a movie like this really care about the story. So, if you don’t, you still have the unrelenting, bloody action sequences and buff guys running with swords in slow motion to look forward to. Just don’t waste your time!
Cert: 18 Runtime: 117 mins Director: Ridley Scott Cast: Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt
Men are attracted to flawed women too of course, but their illusion is that they can fix them. They just want to be entertained. The truth about women is that you can do anything to them except bore them
A star studded cast and a top notch filmaker, all combined into one The Counselor is Ridley Scott’s latest venture. What is The Counselor? A rich and successful lawyer named Counselor (Michael Fassbender) is about to get married to his fiancée (Penelope Cruz) but soon meets up with the middle-man known as Westray (Brad Pitt) who tells him his drug trafficking plan has taken a horrible twist and now he must protect himself and his soon bride-to-be lover as the truth of the drug business uncovers and targets become chosen. Unfortunately, this film is a perfect example of “don’t judge a book by its cover”. To simply put it, the story is a complete mess right from the start. We have our main character who gets confusingly dropped into this situation. How did he end up in this predicament? Why did he choose to pursue such a perilous and illicit path? Basically, the movie never explains anything. You’re left in wonderment, attempting to figure out who is on whose side. Who wants to kill them exactly? Characters end up in random places, and the story never even bothers to explain how the two characters even know each other. The script just conveniently places two movie stars in one scene without an effectively developed context to service it. What follows are countless scenes where characters engage in conversation, vaguely discussing the circumstances. The dialogue also feels vastly strange because the characters don’t talk like actual people do in reality. Their speech sounds quite literary as they spout metaphor after metaphor, coupled with complex vocabulary. With that being said, I had no issue with it at first.
Speaking of the cast, Javier Bardem was really the only one that stood out to me. Frankly, Cameron Diaz had me bewildered. She’s supposed to be from Barbados with an accent- See, I wasn’t even sure whether she was sporting an accent or not. At times, it felt like she had an accent going on, and then in other moments, she was speaking fluent and clear English; so I have no idea what was going on there. Even then, the film could’ve easily hidden all these flaws by presenting us with a thrilling and suspenseful plot, but it actually turned out to be incredibly uneventful. The scope didn’t feel as exciting as it was supposed to be, and it definitely wasted an incredible amount of potential. There were a few disturbingly violent scenes that boosted the film’s tone, for lack of a better term, literally. The ending was also not very reassuring, cutting to the credits unexpectedly shortly after another monotonous and ambiguous conversation. The only decent element of this movie was its soundtrack, but then again, its quality could’ve just been determined in comparison to the oddity and nuisance that the rest of the film consisted of. In sum, the best way to describe The Counselor is “brutally unsatisfying.” I felt no sense of satisfaction by the time it drew to a close, and everything simply felt so meaningless and forgettable. There’s no question that it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I sincerely hope that Ridley Scott ups his game sometime soon.
Cert: 18 Runtime: 120 mins Director: Chan-wook Park Cast: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu and Hye-jeong Kang
Even though I’m no more than a monster – don’t I, too, have the right to live?
A few years back I was in my local HMV looking for new movies to watch, a few of my friends told me Oldboy was worth a watch. After purchasing it I didn’t even open the cellophane for about a year. When I eventually watched it I regretted my decision not having this film in my life much sooner. When I heard Spike Lee was making a re-make of this classic I was rather surprised, even more that Chan w00k-Park had given his blessing. So before I watch yet another Americanization of a good foreign language film, I thought I would make the original my blast from the past. On the day of his daughter’s birthday, Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi) gets completely drunk and is arrested. His best friend No Joo-hwan (Dae-han Ji) releases him from the police station, and while calling home from a phone booth, Dae-su Oh vanishes. Indeed he has been abducted and imprisoned in a room for fifteen years. One day, he is suddenly released, receives clothes, money and a cellular and meets the Japanese chef Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang) , and they feel a great attraction for each other. However, Dae-su Oh seeks for his captor and the reason of his long imprisonment. While looking for revenge, Dae-su Oh discloses deep secrets from the past.
The first word that springs to mind when thinking about this film has to be graphic. There are certain scenes which will make those of nervous disposition recoil until they are firmly wedged between the back and seat of their sofa, and they are likely to spend much of the film there as violence is frequent. In most of the extreme cases it is simply the implication of violence and the viewer’s imagination when left to its own devices like this will cause its own disgust. The best way I can justify these scenes is simple. It is all about sending a message, and these do just that. If you can cope with this then you will break down the initial barrier the film leaves lying in the way of your enjoyment.Another barrier will be the massive culture shock experienced when viewing the film. This is a Korean language film adapted from a Japanese animé series, so there are obviously large cultural differences to the western world. Some of the images used will require quite some thought to fully understand, and the script on translation does lose some of its flow, as any animé or graphic novel fans will associate with.
Chan-Wook takes on a policy of “trust the director”, and leaves many questions throughout the film which gives it a somewhat disorientating feel at times. This method of directing can seem quite inaccessible, however all loose ends are tied up very satisfactorily in the enthralling and shocking climax. This is an ending to rival the classic Kaiser Sozé twist in the tail of The Usual Suspects.Old Boy is a film which assesses the deepest corners of the human heart. The middle of three films which make up Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy it is undoubtedly the masterpiece, with a more powerful message than Lady Vengeance and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. This film has power because of the depths to which it explores the flaws and forces the human heart possesses, stronger and more destructive than any wisdom can overcome. The performances of the main cast and most importantly the director to send this message to the viewer leave this film as about as close to perfection as I can see any film getting.