It’s the screen-rant that wouldn’t go away; so, much pondered and delayed, here it is: Focus, the empty, immoral, too-smart-for-its-own-good crime ‘romp’ that lacks, er, focus…
Focus attempts to add a glossy new specimen to the ambitious but mostly disappointing canon of long-con heist movies, tilting at the empty Ocean‘s franchise audience with a trail of overwrought ‘twists’ in this unreliable, anything-can-happen-but-actually-doesn’t tale. Margo Robbie is the bright light that makes you notice how uneven, disjointed and curiously flat this is, that not even the star power of watchable Will Smith can save it. Continue Reading
If you like cool, retro-feel, heist-caper movies with a retro jukebox sound track, Michael Mann-style shoot-outs and a compelling central character, then Baby Driver is one for you. There’s a direct line between this and 70’s classics such as Vanishing Point, The Getaway and The Driver, right up to Winding-Refn’s Drive. What could have been merely a ‘me-too’ knock-off is strong enough to stand on it’s own. Continue Reading
The critical hammering this 70’s cop-show reboot received on release in 2013 kept me away from it; catching up with it now, I was probably right. Abandoning the ramshackle charm of TV’s lovable rogues Regan and Carter, director Nick Love (of various terrible Danny Dire movies not worth naming) goes sweary and loud in an attempt to make this the British Heat, right down to a running street battle across Trafalgar Square. Ambitious but foolhardy, this Sweeney misses the mark, like the automatic fire in all its set pieces.
Worth seeing only for the monumental performance of Ray Winstone (Snow White, Hugo) as out-of-control dinosaur cop Jack Regan, the rest of this under-budget crime ‘thriller’ is by turns cliched, ludicrous, laughable and cheap. Does anyone really think this is how the modern Met Police operates? Continue Reading
Some serious 70’s hair and make-up; but no Oscar nomination in that category, while The Hustle seems set to sweep all else before it. And like the director’s previous Silver Linings Playbook, it’s all a bit mad.
David O Russell’s trademark off-the-wall and off-kilter view of America is filtered through this ‘based on a true story’ heist caper; a period movie that lets Russell’s repertory players light up and show off. But sorry boys, it’s Amy and Jen who steal the show.
Note it’s not just any hustle, but an American hustle. Continue Reading
Director Michael Mann competes with his own definitive crime drama Heat, as cops and bank robbers go head to head in 1930’s America.
Real-life Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger’s lightning bank raids made him a folk hero and national celebrity, with the fledgling FBI promoting him to ‘public enemy number one.’ Mann’s movie is essentially a remake of the 1973 Dillinger, a Depression-era Western with hangdog Warren Oates as Dillinger and Ben Johnson as the monolithic lawman Melvin Purvis.
This movie begs comparison with Dillinger and Heat and finds itself lacking – mainly Pacino and De Niro, Johnson and Oates. We’re in typical Mann territory, virile and testosterone-fuelled; casual cruelty and the uncaring society. What we get instead is Mann’s slick visual style and adrenalin-pumping shoot-outs. Continue Reading
Remaining largely faithful to the late Steig Larsson’s source novel, this long and TV-styled thriller brings punk hacker Lisbeth Salander to the screen. Michael Nyqvist’s rather dull journalist Blomkvist is shunted aside by Noomi Rapace’s mesmeric performance as the titular heroine.
This is a movie that divides opinion: smart thriller featuring a feminist action-heroine, or an exploitation flick that savours violence against women?
Campaigning journalist Blomkvist loses a libel case against a wealthy businessman, and is offered a working exile by an equally wealthy industrialist. Determined to solve the forty year old disappearance of his niece, Vanger suspects his bickering family of her murder. Salander cannot resist breaking cover to help in the investigation… Continue Reading