Age Of Heroes
Unabsorbing attempt to revive the Where Eagles Dare-style mission-based war actioner, directed by Adrian The Crew Vittoria.
Sean Bean leads a small Commando unit behind enemy lines in occupied Norway to snatch new radar specs. Danny Dyer joins a team including Stephen Walters (the energetic little neo-nazi in The 51st State) and Aksel Hennie (from Max Manus). Proficient enough but with no narrative heart and nothing for the viewer to engage with emotionally.
The Last Drop
More of the above, though with the ambition ratcheted up several levels higher. This time directed by Colin Teague, who co-helmed Shooters – from which Louis Dempsey and Andrew Howard reappear in small parts.
Basically a secret mission by some glider borne British troops to recover some Nazi gold stashed in the Dutch countryside during Market Garden. Meanwhile some renegade Germans are after same. Meanwhile some dastardly SS are after same. Meanwhile some advancing Americans are after same (though don’t realise it).
Interesting cast brings together a bunch of people seemingly acting in a comedy (Steve Speirs, Rafe Spall), others mugging their nuts off (Michael Madsen, Laurence Fox, Billy Zane), yet others having a fair crack at being either enigmatic or charismatic (David Ginola, Alex Skardsgard). Karel Roden is excellent, but possibly doesn’t understand what’s going on. Nick Moran, unusually, is one of the best things in it, as a slightly spivvish private who spots an angle. Jack Dee does well in a tiny, straight cameo.
Script should have been pruned back to the bone, more scenes needed to be either much closer in or much further out, there’s no focus – with our attention constantly flitting between four or five different groups of people – and the CGI is rather ropey. Having said that, at least they had a crack.
Into The White
A twist on the Hell In The Pacific/Enemy Mine set-up – opposing fighters end up trapped in a hostile environment, are forced to work together, and come to learn something about themselves and each other. This time we have 150% more value, as a pair of British fliers are cooped up in a Norwegian hunting lodge with three Luftwaffe dudes after they shoot each other down.
Some nice performances from Florian Lukas, Stig Henrik Hoff, David Kross and Lachlan Niebor, though Rupert Grint has a few howlers as a Scouse air gunner. Petter Naess keeps it all moving nicely despite the constrictions of the location, but ultimately he can’t really take it anywhere, The interruption at the end definitely jolts it nicely out of the comfort zone though.
It’s The Stath! As a top level hit man who takes on the son of his mentor Donald Sutherland, Ben Foster from 3.10 To Yuma, on as his apprentice when aforementioned patriarch is killed.
Thoroughly perfunctory action thriller – you know where it’s going all the time – but watchable dross nonetheless. Simon West directs.
Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassins’ Ball
Pointless, tedious, straight-to-DVD prequel to Joe Carnahan’s swishy, fun crime actioner, this time steered by PJ Pesce (no, me neither). An FBI team must protect a Bureau analyst (Tom Berenger) from sundry assassins when a contract is put on his head for reasons unknown.
Our hit(wo)men: femme fatale Ariella Martinez (Martha Higareda), Vinnie Jones as ‘The Surgeon’, Tommy Flanagan as master-of-disguise Lazlo Soot, and Nazi redneck family the Tremors. Some unpleasant bits of female flesh for the sake of it. Lots of tedious gunplay. Very little of interest. Oh, some exploding dwarfs. Stealing the final reel from The Usual Suspects (and using an ersatz TUS score over it) really does not do the film any favours.
Walking Tall (2004)
Somewhat pointless remake of the based-on-true-events 1973 flick of the same name, only relocated from Tennessee to Washington state, with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the lead as the Buford Pusser character.
Much less enjoyable than say, Road House,, but covering essentially the same ground as it (or of any episode of The A-Team taken at random). That said, the big fella is likeable enough, there’s Johnny Knoxville as his childhood buddy, and Neal McDonough as the local pant villain. Director Kevin Bray apparently made his bones with pop promos for the likes of Celine Dion.
Impressively depressing post-apocalyptic survival movie from Xavier Gens, who also did Hitman, which I hated.
Explosions of some kind or other level New York, but nine people manage to make it to the basement of their building and lock the door shut. Soon societal norms break down. Allegiances shift. What each is prepared to do changes. Heroism is not on the menu.
Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Courtney B Vance, Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Eklund, Rosanna Arquette, Ashton Holmes and Iván González all put in strong performances. Much better than I though tit would be going in. Nothing is explained.