Taylor Sheridan’s left-field, superior detective drama set on a snowy Wyoming native reservation has atmosphere, tension and a terrific cast. Unfairly criticised for its racial politics on release, this is part police procedural, part revenge Western and has some finely nuanced playing from all involved, with Jeremy Renner finally getting to prove his acting chops in a thoroughly understated but dominant performance. Continue Reading
Part-time mechanic, part-time racer “Driver” (Ryan Gosling – Blade Runner 2049) finds a surrogate family in neighbour Irene (Cary Mulligan – An Education, Suffragette) and her son; but when her husband gets out of jail and straight into a robbery, Driver agrees to be the wheelman to help out; the job goes horrifically wrong.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s tense LA-noir crime story became an instant classic for it’s effortless cool and sparse dialog. A rival to 70’s classic thrillers, Gosling turns in a memorable performance as the icy tough loner turned guardian angel.
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
“What if Debbie Harry had been a British spy in the run up to the fall of the Berlin Wall? This is the entire basis of Atomic Blonde‘s derivative Tinker-Tailor hokum meets video-rental exploitation, with Charlize Theron alternately looking magazine-cover cool or battered senseless in gratuitously over-the-top action sequences. It’s hardly feminism’s finest moment. 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
Clichéd and derivative, Silence of the Snow-lambs is a televisual slice of Scandi-noire detective fodder, so lacking any high notes that, despite Fassbender and Ferguson’s best efforts, you have to ask if we need yet another alcoholic maverick cop with issues, whose only USP is being Norwegian.
With a honking, melodramatic score underlining just how laughably un-scary a scary-faced calling-card snowman can be, it’s not just the plotting that looks like a Scooby-doo tribute act. Continue Reading
A taut and efficient thriller from director Dennis Villeneuve (Arrival, Prisoners), Sicario is embroiled in the US-Mexican drug war, as Emily Blunt’s DEA agent struggles to stay on the moral high ground as part of a covert intelligence task-force. It’s a dirty war with moral and physical hazard at every turn; violence is sudden and brutal.
Sicario (“hit man” in Spanish), shows it’s cards even from it’s very title and is obliged to switch focus from Blunt to Benicio Del Toro’s driven avenger. It’s a messy and distracting switch, and while Del Toro is at his best in years, there’s a bigger question over Blunt’s casting. Continue Reading