A Week In Film #557: Clocking up

[Zero Dark Thirty title screen]
Zero Dark Thirty

[The Raid: Redemption title screen]
Serbuan Maut AKA The Raid: Redemption
Gareth Evans announces pencak silat onto the international stage, with this low budget immense fight-your-way-out-of-the-labyrinth actioner about a squad of Indonesian police launching a raid on a crime boss’ stronghold. Iko Uwais is a ready-made star as incorruptible cop Rama; Ray Sahetapy, Yayan Ruhian, Donny Alamsyah and Alfridius Godfred are all memorable as the bad guys. Some of the best ever on-screen fight choreography.

[Atomic Blonde title screen]
Atomic Blonde
David Leitch, one of the team behind John Wick, brings a similar non-CGI sensibility to this adaptation of a muscular Cold War mystery comic, set against the backdrop of the imminently collapsing Berlin Wall, Charlize Theron is a British spy sent out to the German capital to investigate the murder of a colleague. James McAvoy is the quirky head of station meant to be assisting her. Some great physical sequences, and impeccable period touches – music, set dressing, vibe – but ultimately it falls short of excellent.

[Layer Cake title screen]
Layer Cake
The directorial debut of Guy Ritchie’s producer Matthew Vaughn is confident and colourful and enjoyable, though at times the dialogue is somewhat ropey. But a tasty little tale of the drugs trade and gangsters and double cross, with Daniel Craig auditioning for 007, and a heavy-hitting supporting cast doing the heavy lifting – Colm Meaney, George Harris, Kenneth Cranham, Michael Gambon, Tom Hardy, Tamer Hassan, Ben Whishaw, Marcel Iureş, Dexter Fletcher, Steve John Shepherd, Louis Emerick, Stephen Walters, Francis Magee, Jamie Foreman, Sally Hawkins, Burn Gorman, even Sienna Miller.

[Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed title screen]
Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed
Now, I unexpectedly really enjoyed the first live action one; this one, however, despite involving pretty much the whole creative team, is something of a turd.

[Beverly Hills Cop II title screen]
Beverly Hills Cop II
So long as you don’t expect it to be as good as the first, then you’ll be alright. A lot slicker, in a coked-up Tony Scott/Simpson/Bruckheimer way, with Jürgen Prochnow, Brigitte Nielsen and Dean Stockwell making a colourful crime triumvirate for our heroes Eddie Murphy, John Ashton and Judge Reinhold to face.

[Fargo title screen]
Peak Coen Bros, with thoroughly competent local cop Frances McDormand almost immediately solving the case, thanks to her adversaries being arch-incompetents William H Macy, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare.

[We Were Soldiers title screen]
We Were Soldiers
Goes on a bit. A LOT. Relentlessly bloody – and yet in no way critical – account of the Battle of Ia Drang between Vietnamese forces and a newly deployed airmobile 7th Cavalry, led by God-fearin’ Mel Gibson. Both effective and horrifically partisan. Directed by Braveheart scripter Randall Wallace.

[Thunderbolt And Lightfoot title screen]
Thunderbolt And Lightfoot
Lovely 70s caper movie, with wisecracking young drifter Jeff Bridges teaming up with taciturn ex-soldier turned safecracker Clint Eastwood (and later his chippy old comrades George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis) to take down a score in Montana. Directed by Michael Cimino.

[The Terminator title screen]
The Terminator
It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear! And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead! Oh, and viene una

[Peppermint title screen]
So-so revenge fantasy – Jennifer Garner is a suburban soccer mom who goes on the offensive against the gangsters who killed her daughter and husband, and against those corrupt officials who helped the killers go free. Totally just a shuffled-around Death Wish. The odd nice action sequence; from director Pierre Morel.

A Week In Film #556: RE:WHINED

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy title screen
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Keep going back; it doesn’t get better. Still bugs me, the Hungary thing.

Black Hawk Down title screenBlack Hawk Down
And still with this one – it’s just too good an action movie.

Elizabeth Harvest title screen
Elizabeth Harvest
Moderately diverting SF horror; creepy old dude marries pretty young woman, takes her back to his techno palace, weird shit happens, a death occurs, a discovery is made, all is not as it seems, etc. With Abbey Lee, Ciarán Hinds, Carla Gugino, Matthew Beard and Dylan Baker, written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez.

Shaun The Sheep Movie title screen
Shaun The Sheep Movie
Umpteenth watch, and still there’s bits I’m catching for the first time. Definitely one of the best feature lengths done by Aardman.

A Week In Film #555: Genuine triple

Damn fine crime drama thriller, with hints of things like Chinatown, Charlie Manson and Rush, with Nicole Kidman a grizzled, sodden and largely spent California police detective, trying to make peace with herself by solving a mystery which shines a light onto the past. Directed by Karyn Kusama.

Last Breath
Interesting documentary, pitched in the vein of Touching The Void, about an incident in which a deep sea diver became cut off from his diving bell whilst undertaking repairs on an oil rig from the ocean bed. Definitely an interesting story, but not the best ever film. Directed by Richard da Costa and Alex Parkinson.

Hotel Mumbai
Powerful and relatively accurate big screen take on the 2009 Mumbai attacks from Anthony Maras, who opts for multiple viewpoints – Sikh hotel worker (Dev Patel), Indian-American power couple (Nazanin Boniadi and Armie Hammer), Russian oligarch (Jason Isaacs) and Australian backpackers (Natasha Liu Bordizzo and Angus McLaren). With visceral bursts of violence.

A Week In Film #554: 67% NEW

Suspect title screen
A totally 80s movie – Cher, Dennis Quaid, a mute Liam Neeson, courtroom shenanigans, half-serious cynicism and world-weary idealism, cracking score by Michael Kamen, taut direction from Peter Yates. Never tire of Cher’s (unscripted?) giggle at the very end.

[Hunter Killer title screen]
Hunter Killer
Obviously not great – a big action movie with Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman and Common that you have not ever heard of? There’s your first klaxons right there – but surprisingly not actually 100% terrible. Perfunctory would seem to cover most bases. Maverick US sub captain (Butler) finds himself on a rescue mission when renegade Russian defence minister (Mikhail Gorevoy) stages a coup against his more liberal minded president; hawkish American admiral Oldman wants to start tapping out nuclear codes, but cooler naval mind Common pushes for a SEAL team extraction (led by The Camomile Lawn’s Toby Stephens). Michael Nyqvist serves as the obligatory Russian sub commander trying to outwit the Yanks on the sea bed. Directed by Donovan Marsh,

Murder Mystery title screen
Murder Mystery
Not the worst Netflix Original starring Adam Sandler – here as a shlubby New York cop who finally takes his wife (the very excellent Jennifer Aniston) on the trip to Europe he always promised her; quickly they become embroiled in a silly murder-mystery surrounding the family of rich idiots they’ve accidentally become attached to. Directed by Kyle Newacheck, written by James Vanderbilt.

A Week In Film #553: Borrowed, blue

The Late Shift title screen
The Late Shift
Really rather dull HBO ‘dramatisation’ of a book about the 1991-1993 battle between Jay Leno and David Letterman to succeed Johnny Carson at <i.The Tonight Show. Could have been far more compelling – or at the very least, funny – than it is here. Directed by Hill Street Blues alumna-turned-successful helmsman Betty Thomas. This is not her best outing.

[Independence Day title screen]
Independence Day
Not seen this all the way through, ever since I fell asleep during a cinema date in 1996. Still not seen it all in one go. But it’s less rubbish than I remember it, though hella cheesy.

Kill Bill: Volume 1 title screen
Kill Bill: Volume 1
Absolutely too long, but dang, some lovely fight sequences – Veronica and Crazy 88s fights in particular.

Avengers: Infinity War title screen
Avengers: Infinity War
Absolutely no fucking idea what was going on, but the odd interesting moment, and the kids were into it, so…

A Week In Film #552: Tipping over

Gladiator title screen
Don’t think I’ve properly watched this since seeing it in the cinema, and whilst it absolutely slaughters actual history, there’s some great old school epic moments in it, and the integration of the CGI is pretty damn strong. Joaquin Phoenix makes for a great baddie. Fucking Ridley Scott, though – it definitely prefigures the clusterfuck of Prometheus and Covenant.

Baby Driver title screen
Baby Driver
Edgar Wright’s savant getaway driver flick – zesty enough, but lacks oomph. Great cast though. And soundtrack, obviously.

Spider-Man: Homecoming title screen
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Half-watching, can’t say it grabbed me, but cast seemed endearing. With Tom Holland in the red costume, Jon Watts in the director’s chair.

Snatch title screen
Not seen it in years. Stephen Graham looks so young! Has its moments.

Shimmer Lake title screen
Shimmer Lake
Best new film I’ve seen in ages – low key little detective story with surprises in store. Benjamin Walker stars as a small town sheriff, Rainn Wilson is his idiot brother, Adam Pally his tetchy partner, Rob Corddry and Ron Livingston a pair of visiting Feds. Highly confident film making from Oren Uziel.

I Am Mother title screen
I Am Mother
So-so SF business, with a young woman raised by a robot as the last human survivor of a planet-wide extinction event starts to question what the machines are telling her.

Wth Clara Regard, Hilary Swank and Rose Byrne, directed by Grant Sputore from a script by Michael Lloyd Green.

A Week In Film #551: Now we’re getting somewhere

[The Secret Life Of Pets 2 title screen]
The Secret Life Of Pets 2
Somehow I missed the first one of these, but I was persuaded to take the kids for the sequel at the local fleapit, whereupon with consummate ease I slid into my traditional ‘family movie routine’ (i.e. watch the first third, fall asleep during the mid-section, awake for the ending). Was actually okay. An Illumination animated joint by Chris Despicable Me Renaud, so with. Bit of a pedigree; some city animals go to the country, come back again, foil a dastardly plot. SCANDAL! Patton Oswalt takes over voicing the lead character from Louis CK because, y’know, wanky comedian doesn’t necessarily make for kiddie flick box office pay dirt.

John Wick: Chapter 2 title screen
John Wick: Chapter 2
Keanu and chums return in another high octane, in-camera actioner about a glum hitman coming out of retirement for REASONS. Some great fight sequences, obvs. The cast is rounded out with new faces like Riccardo Scamarcio (Romanzo Criminale), Franco Nero and Ruby Rose. Directed by stunt dude Chad Stahelski.

Q&amp;A title screen
One of those doesn’t-quite-get-there New York movies, like City Hall, but still an enjoyable ride. Timothy Hutton is the can-do rising star of the DA’s office with the shady past who is brought on board to exonerate a dirty shooting by a veteran cop, Nick Nolte. Naturally, he doesn’t play ball. With Armand Assante, Lee Richardson, Charles Dutton, Luis Guzman, Paul Calderón and Patrick O’Neal, directed by Sidney Lumet from a novel by ex-judge Edwin Torres, who also gave up Carlito’s Way.

A Few Good Men title screenA Few Good Men
Tom Cruise , Demi Moore and Kevin Pollak as military lawyers digging into the death of a young Marine at a pre-9/11 Gitmo; Jack Nicholson gets to grandstand to great effect. Meaty populist entertainment from Rob Reiner.

Always Be My Maybe title screenAlways Be My Maybe
Amusing romcom with Ali Wong and Randall Park childhood friends who grew apart twenty years ago but who are thrown together in middle age and start to find common ground. Directed by Nahnatchka Khan.

[Three Days Of The Condor title screen]
Three Days Of The Condor
Sydney Pollack tries to do the gloomy, pessimistic post-Watergate seventies spy thing – based on a novel by James Grady – but it never really hits the spot. Robert Redford is the lowly CIA clerk in some backwater Agency open source analysis team who by virtue of his tardiness and indiscipline manages to escape the massacre of his colleagues – only for his barely-remembered training to kick in enough to keep him alive as the assassins come after him too. Faye Dunaway is the stranger whose help he enlists, Max Von Sydow the freelance assassin on his tail.

Horrible Bosses
Seth Gordon directs this dark comic take on Strangers On A Train about a trio of friends (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) trying to do away with each other’s horrific employers (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Anniston and Colin Farrell). Pretty decent.

The Longest Day title screen
The Longest Day
A thick wedge of Hollywood and international stars fills the screen, directed by a veritable football team of directors – Ken Annakin, Andrew Morton, Bernhard Wicki, Gerd Oswald, Darryl F Zanuck – in this canonical war epic about D-Day.