Yet another actor-based spinner designed to work off the appeal of the leading man, in this case old Irish eyes himself Liam Neeson.
This time he’s a highly elusive bank robber who meets the love of his life and decides to go straight. First act of virtue is to turn himself in and cut a deal by returning all the money he nicked, but it all goes awry when a couple of nefarious FBI agents enter the fray.
From there things go from bad to worse for our boy and pretty soon we have all the customary shoot-outs, blow-ups, car chases and naughty cops that we have come to expect of the genre. Yet notwithstanding, it’s an amusing and entertaining romp through the proceedings which are predictably predictable, and Neeson’s gruff grunt features nicely throughout.
No real surprises, although a cameo from Robert Patrick (that really, really, bad melty guy from Terminator 2) does light up the early part of the tale.
Irish production with an ex-boxer working for a local drug family, who falls afoul of them when he fails to carry out a hit.
Torn by his loyalty to the family against that to his autistic son, our man, possessing no more than your average intellectual oomph, makes some decisions that upset all and sundry and he finds himself on the receiving end of everyone’s disdain and running from just about everyone and everything.
Gritty drama with good performances all round, and the dreariness of the environs add to the allure and sense of hopelessness of the central character’s plight. There is some violence depicted, and while in keeping with tone of the story, we still wince at some of the blows as rough justice is meted out on a bloke who screws up badly.
Overall, a little depressing and we’re left with a sense of wondering really what it’s all for, yet not a bad movie by any means.
This recent Netflix release has Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan locking horns over a bombing that takes out the former’s daughter. Expecting a typical Jackie romp, this one turned out to be anything but, and, albeit there’s a modicum of chop-socky in there, it’s all part of a quite classy action thriller.
Pierce-baby is an Irish politician with some nasty friends and Jackie-boy reckons he’s behind it all anyway, so resorts to a few Rambo-like shenanigans to expose the skullduggery. Lotsa intrigue, double-cross and general mayhem as we pick apart the threads and the bad guys finally get their just desserts, as they always do.
Both leads aging gracefully and this is nicely woven into the proceedings with Chan at 66 handling the rough and tumble pretty well considering he still does all his own stunts.
Good screenplay, not as predictable as most, and we garner a few mixed emotions when the good guys prove to be just as brutal as the baddies, Jackie excepted of course. Well worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre.
Making up for lost time with Netflix!
This one focuses on Jan and Antonina Żabiński, proprietors of the Warsaw Zoo and their exploits in hiding Jews during WWII. Kicking off with the German invasion in Sept 1939, following through to eventual liberation by the Russian Army and the aftermath, it depicts how 300 people passed through the zoo on their way to freedom and how the Żabińskis managed to cover it all up, fooling the occupying German forces and in particular, one nasty supposed colleague who proves to be just as much of an a**hole as the other Germans.
Nicely shot period piece with excellent performances all round especially by American actress Jessica Chastain, in the role of the aforementioned wife. Doesn’t descend into brutality like some of its ilk and we’re left with a sense of gratified success which is heightened by the fact the Żabińskis only ever lost two of their guests and that was after they had left the zoo.
Well worth a look if you’re looking for something to stream on a winter’s night:
WWII piece centred around Marcel Marceau and his time with the French Resistance, smuggling Jewish orphans out of France. And all under the nose of one Klaus Barbie, the butcher of Lyon.
Now, this review carries a warning: the movie contains some of the most tense scenes I’ve ever seen on film. It is brutal in its depiction without being bloodthirsty and much is left to the imagination, yet there is an obvious and a sublime horror generated by the portrayal of atrocities carried out by Barbie against the Jewish population of Lyon.
Jesse Eisenberg is brilliant as the mime Marceau, and German actor Matthias Schweighofer suitably vicious in the Barbie role. Supporting cast are all well-appointed and nicely contribute to creating the intensity such a movie needs to adequately convey its concept and message.
Awesome cinematography as Marceau and kids trek through snow-covered forest by night with Barbie and his Nazis hot on their tail.
Ed Harris cameos as General Patton at both the opening and the close of proceedings to set scene and round off in style.
Only the third time I’ve done this but I’m slapping a 10/10 on this one.
Arthouse piece about a bunch of teenage dog soldiers holed up somewhere in remote a South American location, assigned to guard an American prisoner. They’re part of a rebel army called The Organisation and regularly visited by a commanding overseer who puts them through their paces and issues instructions on who does what.
However it all starts to implode after a mishap and the lads’n’lasses begin to outwork their power plays, turning on one another and switching allegiances as it suits. To add to their angst, their prisoner keeps escaping and the gang finds itself imposed upon by units of their greater army which seems to be fighting a war in their midst without them actually being involved.
All ends a bit abruptly and we’re left wondering what it was all for other than an essay that mixes Lord of the Flies with the Survivor reality series. No standout performances and the primeval descent theme is pretty obvious from the get go, so the predictability factor is reasonably high. Overall:
First time back at the movies after lockdown!
Dramatisation of the push to upgrade the Air Force Cross awarded to William Pitsenbarger during the Vietnam War to the Medal of Honour. A young bushy-tailed Pentagon staffer Scott Huffman is assigned the task of investigating whether a MoH upgrade is warranted based on eye-witness accounts and new evidence that comes to the fore.
Along the way he encounters lotsa ducking and dodging as some of that new evidence creates a few sticky situations for our man to navigate through. Starting out with more than a little disdain for upgrading an award from a conflict 30 years prior, it becomes an exercise in gaining full recognition of the sacrifices that become so necessary in wartime.
Excellent performances from some of America’s acting royalty with William Hurt, Christopher Plummer, Samuel L Jackson, Ed Harris, Diane Ladd & Peter Fonda in his final role turning on the acid to help Huffman achieve his goal. And watching him change his perspective through the experience even in spite of seeing his own future become somewhat murky is a quite fascinating element.
Powerful, emotional and thought-provoking, this one isn’t a mere war movie and gives just a little insight into what men will do despite being faced with insurmountable odds.
With cinemas only just starting to get back into business still not a lot to review out there so we checked out this latest Netflix push.
Aussie hambone Chris Hemsworth is a mercenary hired to extract (hence the title) the son of an imprisoned Indian drug lord from the kidnapper clutches of a rival. Trouble is there so much double and even triple cross to keep track of, coupled with Hemsworth bouncing from pillar to post, off balconies, cars and trucks, into canopies, dumpsters, market stalls and over trailers, bikes and police cars, it all reads like a Rambo outing on steroids.
The action scenes of which there are plenty, are one long shoot ‘em up video game and after a while start to become a bit ho-hum; only so many ways the bad guys can get shot!
So, not too much to the story unfortunately, and we can only marvel at the resilience of the Australian body as Hemsworth is shot, knifed, burnt, bazooka’ed and generally pillaged throughout the proceedings. Still, not as bad as some in this genre and Mumbai is an interesting setting.
Of course with lockdown there’s no going to the movies so Netflix, Amazon Prime etc have been getting the workouts. And most of those have been reviewed before or are, to put it bluntly, not worth the effort. However this one on Acorn breaks the mould, featuring a few sizable names in Eddie Redmayne, Bill Nighy, Julie Christie and Christopher Lee, its a psychological thriller based at the outset of WWII.
A gentrified family is involved in a few things that might be considered a bit naughty but eldest daughter figures something smelly and slowly turns over the stones to reveal the reality of the situation. It’s a bit of a slow burn to start but as we go we see that all is not what it seems and it ducks and dives down a number of avenues and alleyways before we’re finally able to suss out what’s really going on.
Beautiful English countryside and ye olde architecture is the setting against a backdrop of the early days of the war when many Britons could perhaps be forgiven for thinking it might all be a sham. Good performances all round including a few no-names who equally foot it with the heavyweights.
Keeps you guessing until the very end, and when the lights do finally go on it’s a eureka moment. Suspenseful and clever - almost too clever in parts, but overall good to catch.
Jack London’s anthropomorphic doggie tale of Buck, clumsy domestic pet who finds himself through a series of unfortunate events in the thick of the Yukon during the 1890’s gold rush. Not quite sticking to the original novel, this adaptation has good ole Han Solo himself in the John Thornton role who rescues Buck from his disposition.
London’s book was hailed at the time as a literary high point with its combination of allegory, parable and fable, commentating on survival and a return to primitivism when faced with primordial circumstances. However all that was lost on this critic when he read the book as an enthusiastic ten year old, and it's not really apparent here in this rendition, which unfortunately leaves it as somewhat shallow for the adults, although I’m sure the kids will love it.
The animals are all CGI as is much of the landscape, and are given human characteristics and expression but thankfully, they do not talk. Mr Solo owns his screen time and is just about as engaging as his canine companion. The other roles are merely supporting and of little consequence to the wider presentation.
Cinematography is great as you would expect being set in the wilderness, and the greed for gold nicely portrayed by the villains of the piece along with healthy doses of stupidity. But, for the reasons outlined above, it all ends up a bit lightweight and I found myself chuckling at some of the more poignant scenes.
I'm a movie nut from way back with my first ever being The Hallelujah Trail from 1964. Ever since, I've been mesmerized by the giant screen, and the darkness that went on forever. Despite the infernally uncomfortable seats, (plus having to stand for God Save the Queen), I've been enticed ever since to duck into a theatre whenever I can for a few hours of escapism.