Tag Archives: The First Great Train Robbery

A Week In Film #476: Revisiting

The Kingdom title screenThe Kingdom
Misfiring action thriller with Jamie Foxx leading a team of FBI investigators trying to hunt down the perpetrators of a terrorist attack on a compound for Westerners in Saudi Arabia. Some decent enough set pieces and interplay between actors, but no heart.

Home Alone title screenHome Alone
Fun live action cartoon violence courtesy of John Hughes and Chris Columbus.

TITLEthefirstgreattrainrobberyThe First Great Train Robbery title screenThe First Great Train Robbery
Another airing for Michael Crichton’s enjoyable Victorian crime caper with Connery, Sutherland and Down a strong central trio.

The Two Jakes title screenThe Two Jakes
Imperfect belated sequel to the Evans-Towne-Polanski-Nicholson classic Chinatown, here moving from its predecessor’s focus on water to an obsession over oil. By no means great, but still with plenty to enjoy.

A Week In Film #328: Game on

Myn Bala title screen
Жаужүрек мың бала AKA Myn Bala: Warriors Of The Steppe
This “2011 Kazakhstani historical dramatic film depicting the overthrow of Zungharian oppressors” was sat on my Netflix queue for ages before I plucked up the courage… Pretty decent stuff, though damned confusing on the history front from someone with zero knowledge of the subject.

Zero Dark Thirty title screen
Zero Dark Thirty
Kathryn Bigelow’s manipulative but viscerally thrilling tale of the hunt for the OBL dude.

Brooklyn Rules title screen
Brooklyn Rules
A Goodfellas/A Bronx Tale wannabe, with Freddie Prinze Jr, Scott Caan and Jerry Ferrara a trio of neighbourhood pals with varying degrees of connection to local mob bossAlec Baldwin in eighties New York. From Michael Corrente.

Traffic title screen
Soderbergh’s retooling and retelling of the magnificent Channel 4 mini-series Traffic, relocated to the US and Mexico. Great cast includes Benicio del Toro, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Clifton Collins Jr, Steven Bauer, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzmán, Albert Finney, James Brolin, Dennis Quaid as a sleazy lawyer, and so on. Stephen Gaghan captures the depth and human stories of the original n his script.

TITLEthefirstgreattrainrobberyThe First Great Train Robbery title screen
The First Great Train Robbery
A reliable go-to stand-by for a bit of cheering up – Michael Crichton directs Sean Connery, Lesley-Anne Down and Donald Sutherland in his one adaptation of his historical crime non-fiction tale of Victorian criminals pulling off a daring heist. And great Jerry Goldsmith score.

A Week In Film #198: No more BBQ

The Naughty Room title screen
The Naughty Room
The feature debut of the ‘Gay Pirates’ guy, Devonian renaissance man Cosmo Jarvis. At first it seemed like he wouldn’t be able to stretch things out to a full film, despite his short smarts, with too much invested in dumb stoner humour…But I stuck it out and I got payback on my investment.

Sure it’s no classic, not wholly original or anything; but there’s a story there I wanted to see through to the end, characters I got glued to, and things didn’t play out exactly in the fashion the cliche might dictate. A big part of the success was down to David Egan as Subaru, a self-centred pothead doing stupid, annoying shit that despite everything you still root for.

I look forward to the next Jarvis & Co flick.

The First Great Train Robbery title screen
The First Great Train Robbery
A spirit-lifter – enthusiastic period crime capery from Michael Crichton, adapting his own book about a Victorian bullion heist, with a wonderful score by Jerry Goldsmith.

Okay, so Crichton self-censors out some of the less pleasant details from the novel, and there’s an awkward process shot as Clean Willie escapes Newgate over the rooftops of London, but it’s FUN. For enjoyment it’s probably in my top ten, because it delivers every time.

Ice Age title screenIce Age
The first time I’d seen this since it was projected onto a bed sheet hanging above me at a notably grimy squat party in Hackney in the mid 00s. TBH it was better viewed upside down whilst spangled – a rather nondescript CGI toon about a bunch of prehistoric beasties looking after a human baby, learning valuable lessons about friendship, etc. The prologue with Scrat the sabre-toothed squirrel was probably the best thing. John Leguizamo as an annoying sloth was bearable.

A Week In Film #109: Winterval

In The Line Of Duty: The FBI Murders
A pretty decent TV movie about the real-life 1985 Florida shoot-out that saw two FBI agents killed and a further five wounded as they attempted to take down a pair of ex-military bankrolling nutjobs with heavier firepower.

A great cast – Michael Gross (Tremors‘ Boomer and David ‘Hutch’ Soul as the bad guys, Ronny RoboCop Cox as a Fed – and thoroughly competent staging makes for an engaging watch, though the cheap score is awful. Makes a good double-bill with 44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out, about a similar event in California in 1997.

The Way Of The Gun
Christopher McQuarrie’s first (and only ) effort as a director after success writting The Usual Suspects; a hard-boiled tale of amoral drifters (Benicio del Toro and Ryan Phillippe) who somehow end up kidnapping the surrogate mother hired to carry the baby of a rich mob accountant. Bloodshed ensues.

There should be more Hollywood flicks like this – talky, morally questionable, with good parts for older actors and women as well as young heartthrobs. Plus it has an awesome soundtrack (Joe Kraemer) and at least three of the best action scenes in film of the 2000s. Obviously it tanked.

Steven Soderbergh’s lens-filtered retread of the 1989 Channel 4 mini-series about drugs, the drugs trade and drugs enforcement, transplanted from Britain, Germany and Pakistan to The US and Mexico.

Some nice touches. Not perfect. Good to see Luis Guzmán in a significant role. Benicio del Torres is excellent as a Mexican federal caught between two immovable objects. Even Michael Douglas is watchable as the Drugs Czar for whom the war comes too close for comfort.

ATF field agent Dean Lois & Clark Cain and desk jockey Jennifer Flashdance Beals team up to thwart a dastardly terror plot involving anthrax, ballistic missiles and a right-wing radio shock-jock (Stacy Keach). Awful, dull, contemptible, with little or nothing to commend it. Even Frederic Forrest as a survivalist released from prison to infiltrate Federal agent into the militia movement does nothing to mitigate this Jim Wynorski-directed blancmange.

Did I mention that I’d actually paid money for this?

Chugyeogja aka The Chaser
Ex-cop turned pimp has to sprint against the clock in a race to find two of ‘his’ missing girls before their suspected abductor is released from police custody.

By turns funny, alarming, tragic and heart-stoppingly exciting, an excellent first film from Na Hong-Jin.

The Good Thief
Rather flat heist flick by Neil Jordan based on Melville’s Bob Le Flambeur, with Nick Nolte at his most grizzly as an affable American ex-pat junkie gambler in France putting together a crew to knock off Monte Carlo casino. An interesting cast (Saïd Taghmaoui, Tchéky Karyo, Nutsa Kukhianidze), but a not so interesting script.

Sherlock Holmes And The Secret Weapon
Silly Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce WW2-retooled Holmes nonsense about the Gestapo chasing after some Macguffin or other, but obviously it is good fun and brisk.

The First Great Train Robbery
Fun period crime caper with Sean Connery, Lesley-Anne Down and Donald Sutherland leading a Victorian era crew in a daring Crimean gold takedown, with wonderful Jerry Goldsmith score.

David Fincher, rainy unnamed city, serial killer on the loose, soon-to-retire hangdog cop Morgan Freeman reluctantly passes on the reins to impetuous new detective Brad Pitt, great sound & music, slick look, fine work.

A Week In Film #037: Overloaded

Monsters, Inc.
Rather fine Pixar/Disney animated feature about a pair of misfit monsters (Billy Crystal & John Goodman) on a quest.

The First Great Train Robbery title screen

The First Great Train Robbery
Another favourite, with Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland and Lesley Ann Warren as a team of Victorian crooks planning the ultimate heist. Michael Crichton directs this adaptation of his own book with brio, and there’s Jerry Goldsmith’s best score ever.

The Transporter title screen

The Transporter
The Stath as an ex-special forces type turned courier-for-hire who breaks his own rules and gets involved with some seriously bad people. Not cerebral, but thoroughly entertaining. The oil slick fight is superb. Co-directors Corey Yuen and Louis Leterrier keep things moving at a decent lick, and there’s engaging support from Shu Qi and François Berléand.

Alien title screen

Haunted house in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorph, etc. Classic stuff.

Aliens title screen

Marines in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Classic stuff.

Alien 3 title screen

Alien 3
Convicts in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Flawed stuff.

Alien Resurrection title screen

Alien Resurrection
Pirates in space, Sigourney Weaver, xenomorphs, etc. Fucking awful stuff. Joss Whedon bow your head in shame. I paid to see this at the picture palace, too. Not impressed.

44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out title screen

44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shoot-Out
Very slick, very well made TVM about a real-life bank heist, with Michael Madsen leading a solid cast. Better than most big screen efforts.

The Rules Of Attraction title screen

The Rules Of Attraction
Roger Avery’s Bret Easton Ellis college novel adaptation, very unpleasant, very good. The dude from Dawson’s Creek is in it.

Banlieue13 title screen

Banlieue 13
Trés bon silliness set in a near future dystopia where les banlieues are used as a prison to keep les sans culottes in their place. David Belle as the ghetto idealist and Cyril Raffaelli as the cop he teams up with are a good pairing, and the action sequences show off their respective disciplines (parkour & martial arts) to the fullest effect. Pierre Morel directs with skill from Luc Besson’s paper-thin script, and it looks amazing.

Hot Fuzz
Enjoyable cop-based retread of the Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright/Nick Frost relationship, with almost too many familiar faces.

Sunshine title screen

I really liked this Danny Boyle/Alex Garland SF number, about a space mission to save the Earth, but it seems I’m in a minority. I like the way it slowly unfolds, I like the tension, I like the unlikeableness of many of the characters, I like the sound design and the visual structure, I like the cast.

The Dark Crystal
Very disappointing Muppet-based sword-and-sorcery nonsense. Nowhere near Labyrinth in quality.

Layer Cake
Matthew Vaughn handles his material with confidence first time out the traps as a director in an adaptation of a novel about a nameless coke dealer and the scrapes he gets into. From this he somehow manages to make a well-polished and engaging little picture in which older character actors are given a chance to shine – Colm Meaney, Kenneth Cranham, George Harris, Michael Gambon. Oh, and it’s blatantly Daniel Craig’s 007 calling card.

The Killer Elite
Dull, uninspiring lesser Peckinpah, with James Caan and Robert Duvall as a pair of US proxy spooks who end up on opposite sides. There’s no energy in it, and the fight scenes are amongst the worst I’ve ever seen. An interesting premise wasted.

Heat title screen

Michael Mann does cops and robbers in LA with Pacino and De Niro, and Andy McNab choreographing the mesmerising post-heist shoot-out.

Serpico title screen

Al Pacino as the cop who wouldn’t be bought, but could be shot. One of Sidney Lumet’s best pictures, and Pacino’s too, and with no happy ending. A classic New York film.

Nid De Guêpes title screen

Nid De Guêpes
Florent Emilio Siri takes Assault On Precinct 13 as his starting point and turns in a film far more stylish than anything Hollywood has produced in a long time. Four groups collide on an industrial estate outside Strasbourg on Bastille Day – a gang of burglars, a group of security guards, a multinational anti-terrorist team, and a massive and heavily armed band of Albanian bandits. If you’ve not seen it, and you like action pictures, seek it out. A strong cast includes Samy Naceri, Benoît Magimel, Nadia Farès, Pascal Greggory, Sami Bouajila, Anisia Uzeyman, Richard Sammel, Valerio Mastandrea and Martial Odone.

Porky's Revenge title screen

Porky’s Revenge
Third film in a franchise that lasted at least two films beyond its natural life. I have nothing of note to say, a bit like the film itself.

Thunderheart title screen

Michael Apted directs Val Kilmer in a barely-fictionalised account of the US war with modern American Indian society, based on the Pine Ridge siege. Think of it as a superior version of Mississippi Burning, in which the FBI aren’t whitewashed into heroes.