The BBC’s long-running espionage series moves from TV to the big screen, this time trying to save Britain’s home intelligence service from a CIA takeover in the face of a Pakistani revenge-terrorism campaign.
All the clichés of latterday pop-TV terror plots mix with old fashioned Le Carre legacy; the question is can it open up a claustrophobic TV drama into something more without a Bourne/Bond scale budget? Continue Reading
In a welcome return to form by Ridley Scott, a decent script by Drew Goddard from Andy Weir’s book puts Prometheus and The Counsellor behind us. Left for dead on Mars, Matt Damon is Robinson Crusoe in Space; his Everyman charm leavens the tension with humour, and despite a melodramatic third act, continues a line in gripping space movies from Interstellar to Gravity.
After some unfortunate – and scientifically inaccurate – Martian ‘weather’ sees him left for dead, botanist Mark Watney has to eke out his survival until he can be rescued by the next NASA mission – a mere four years on a dead planet with less than three years supplies. Continue Reading
In a relentless drive to up the ante in Marvel comic-book sequels, it’s only Joss Whedon’s sense of humour that saves this noisy, CGI-laden behemoth from crash, bash and smash tedium.
The script is a load of portentous twaddle about artificial intelligence, monsters, mayhem and extinction-level events, or, put another way, any excuse to run out our current favourite superheroes. It’s an awful lot of epic for your money, and you can tell Whedon has put his usual care into the dialogue, but at nearly two and a half hours, you have to ask; do we need quite so many metal-fetishised CGI robots smashing cities to pieces? Continue Reading
Chameleon actor Tom Hardy (Batman, Legend) turns in a Brando-like performance as Russian war hero turned investigator Leo Demidov on the trail of a serial killer. In a paranoid Soviet state of suspicion and fear, executing its citizens at will, even his schoolteacher wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace – Prometheus, Dragon Tatoo trilogy) is afraid of him.
It’s not easy when ‘there can be no murder in paradise’; even when the latest murdered child – 44th – is the son of his army comrade; the totalitarian state is in denial of murder, even as it executes its citizens daily. This is Soviet Russia at the height of Stalin’s reign of terror, and even a war hero like Leo can be denounced and exiled to a remote factory town after failing to denounce his own wife, a suspected dissident. Continue Reading
This technically impressive Euro-Asian co-production resets the 47 Ronin (the proper story, not the Keanu Reeves disaster) in a fantasy-medieval, multi-cultural version of the Byzantine Empire, looking for that Game of Thrones crossover.
After Morgan Freeman’s (Transcendence, Lucy) nobleman sacrifices himself on principle, Clive Owen (Bourne, Closer) heads the masterless Samurai – sorry, knights – in their revenge mission against the corrupt first minister Giza Mott (Aksel Hennie – Hercules – pitching somewhere between Christopher Walken and Brad Dourif).
Utterly predictable at every step, it’s earnest, worthy, straight-down-the-line – and a bit dull. Continue Reading
In an efficient, and in places, stylish, action thriller, the physically massive protagonist of Lee Child’s novels is replaced by the diminutive and svelt Tom Cruise. Between Knight and Day and various Missions Improbable, Cruise manages to bland-down the titular hero to a point somewhere between Minority Report and TV’s The Equaliser. Continue Reading
Shakespeare and opera actor/director Ken Branagh continues his mainstream success (Thor, Jack Ryan) with this lavish live-action spectacular lifted from the Disney and Charles Perrault fairytales.
It’s an entirely conventional re-telling of an orphaned girl and her chance meeting with a mystery prince named Kit in a fairy-tale Ruritanian kingdom; of vast fairy-tale palaces and huge fairy-tale balls, with fairy-tale pumpkin coaches and glass slippers. Cinderella does exactly what it says on the label. Continue Reading