Tag Archives: The Raid: Redemption

A Week In Film #557: Clocking up

Zero Dark Thirty title screen
Zero Dark Thirty
AND THIS ONE.

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
Fargo
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
tormenta!

Peppermint title screen
Peppermint
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 #318: Good spread

The Raid: Redemption title screen
The Raid: Redemption
Gareth Huw Evans’ impressive crossover Indonesian martial arts action hit, with Iko Uwais as a straight arrow cop joining a special unit on a mission to snatch a drug kingpin from a locked down tower block.

The Raid 2: Berendal title screen
The Raid 2: Berendal
Almost operatic sequel, which breaks out from the Die Hard-style confines of the first film and offers something with more depth.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park title screen
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
More dinosaur nonsense, but still enjoyable. Good to have Pete Postlethwaite on board as a big game hunter, and Jeff Goldblum back as a chaos theory guy.

Leviathan title screen
Leviathan
Convoluted rip off of The Abyss from hack director George Cosmatos, with decent cast (Peter Weller, Ernie Hudson, Richard Crenna, Amanda Pays etc) let down by the rather pedestrian script by the usually reliable David Peoples (Blade Runner) and Jeb Stuart (Die Hard).

A Week In Film #201: On a roll

Tower Heist
Non-taxing, no surprises, by-the-numbers mainstream Hollywood comedy, with Ben Stiller leading a small crew of employees fired from an upscale Manhattan apartment complex who decide to take revenge on the thieving banker who got them the sack and embezzled their pension fund.

Alan Alda is suitably slimy as the Bernie Madoff analogue, Eddie Murphy harks back to his 80s heyday as a neighbourhood hustler brought on board to help our amateur burglars, Téa Leoni is the FBI agent investigating the banker. Throw in Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Michael Peña, Gabourey Sidibe and Stephen Henderson and you have a solid enough ensemble to help you forget this nonsense is helmed by Brett Ratner.

Unknown
It feels mean to point it out, but Liam Neeson has had a lot of work since, well, you-know-what. I’m not complaining – I rather like his big sad eyes. Here he’s a scientist on his way to present a keynote speech at a conference in Germany, accompanied by his wife January Jones. But lo! On the way there he first loses his bag and then is involved in an accident that sees him lose his memory! CRUMBS!

Cue lots of scrapes – and before you know it, we’re in bloodbath territory. The twist is not particularly adventurous, and the card is played too early, but nevertheless, plenty to get your teeth into. Diane Kruger as a paperless cabbie is a high point. Decent direction from Jaume Collet-Saura.

Haywire
I liked the look of this since seeing the trailers, and it didn’t let me down. Reviews I’ve seen suggest not everyone felt the same. Gina Carano is an Marine-turned-security contractor stitched up by her ex-boss/lover, Ewan McGregor; she doesn’t take kindly to this.

Great opening sequence that sets the tone, some nicely muted action scenes, and real blasts of excitement from standing starts. Top quality cast, including Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Channing Tatum (no, seriously), Michael Douglas (!!!) and Bill Paxton, and Michael Angarano is convincingly scared/confused as a bystander caught up in it all. Steven Soderbergh handles direction very well, as you would expect.

The Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call – New Orleans
For my sins, I’ve never seen Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant. I guess I should now, for comparison’s sake if nothing else.

Here we have Werner Herzog directing Nicolas Cage as a dirty cop in Louisiana – not a million miles away from his turn as a dirty cop in Atlantic City for Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes. This shady dick has a drug problem and a hooker for a girlfriend. He gets into scrapes, and starts having trouble distinguishing reality from narcotic-induced hallucination. I found it diverting, but nothing amazing. Oh well.

The Raid: Redemption
Welsh pencak silat enthusiast Gareth Evans hit pay dirt with this, structurally simple but magnificently-staged actioner about a team of elite Indonesian cops on a mission to capture a crime lord from within his tower block stronghold. It certainly beat the similarly-themed Dredd 3D off the blocks.

Triggering favourable comparison with the likes of Die Hard, Nid De Guêpes and the opening scene of Banlieue 13, and liberally borrowing from video game tropes, the fight scenes are ambitious and unrelenting, with some seriously impressive stunts along the way. Iko Uwais, Evans’ leading man of choice, really seems to embody the moral, young cop both battling to survive and to apprehend the villain.

Oh, and the US release’s score by Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese definitely helps add some tension.

Killer Elite
No, it’s not Robert Aldrich’s rubbish 70s hitmen-for-hire flick, it’s the more recent rubbish adaptation of Ranulph Fiennes’ silly ‘true story’ novel The Feather Men – and yes, I admit it, I got the book when it came out (as an underage member of the Military & Aviation Book Society).

Story-wise, it’s about a bunch of mercenaries knocking off some ex-SAS soldiers who killed a Sultan’s sons whilst fighting in the Dhofar Rebellion in the 70s, which in turn attracts the attentions of a secretive organisation of ex-SAS men who zzz…

Yes, it has The Stath; yes, it has Clive Owen; yes, it has Bob De Niro (eh?!); yes, it’s a pile of crap. Couple of nice action sequences and that’s your lot. Directed by first-time Gary McKendry.

Safe House
Shades of Three Days Of The Condor, as junior CIA officer Ryan Reynolds tries to do the right thing when Agency traitor Denzel Washington ends up in his custody in South Africa, only for a merciless squad of killers to turn up and blow everyone else away.

Neither subtle nor particularly loveable, there are some big action set pieces, and some moderately engaging character stuff between the two principals – ultimately a let-down though. Swedish director Daniel Espinosa was a new one on me.