Mike Leigh’s gentle biopic of pioneering dentist Arthur Lemming meanders thoughtfully through… Just kidding. Everyone’s favourite Aussie Thunder God steps into John Wick territory in a Netflix’ kidnap-and rescue actioner with a body count to match.
Written and produced by the Avengers Russo brothers for first time director Sam Hargrave, Chris Hemsworth is our latter-day Gary Cooper doin’ what a man’s gotta do. Cue brutal violence in extended, tightly choreographed action set-pieces and a confessed body count of 183. But it’s okay, they’re all foreigners.
The flimsy plot has the son of India’s imprisoned drug lord kidnapped by Bangladesh’s Pablo Escobar. Hemsworth is called in to perform the extraction but the father lacks the money to pay for it. Instead his Indian special forces, badass security chief goes in to swipe the boy. The pair of them square up to each other and the completely corrupt Bangladeshi police and army.
For a classic ‘tortured soul’ Hemsworth shows little reluctance to kill just about anybody in increasingly novel ways. John Wick has a lot to answer for, action movies demanding increasingly nasty ways to kill people. It occasionally tips over into pastiche when Hemsworth’s hero Tyler Rake kills one of the kidnappers with a… rake. Geddit?
The perfunctory plot relies entirely on Hemsworth’s charisma to keep the show on the road. While the action sequences are well done, you’re checking the list – Ronin car chase, The Raid in a tenement building, a bit of Platoon with sweeping orchestral score, and so on. It’s no coincidence I kept having flashbacks to Schwarzeneggers’ utterly dumb 1985 Commando. ‘You weren’t there, man; you weren’t there.’ RC
Director: Sam Hargrave
Writer: Joe Russo
Running time: 1h 57m
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Patrick Newall, Rayna Campbell, Shivam Vichare, Rudhraksh Jaiswal, Mir Sarwar, David Harbour, Golshifteh Farahani, Pankaj Tripathy, Randeep Hooda