Netflix’ ‘fuzzy felt’ production line continues to throw content at the wall to see what sticks – and it’s not this. A poorly adapted, incoherent, journo-political thriller, despite Anne Hathaway acting her socks off, makes no sense whatsoever. Plenty of tension and skull-duggery during Reagan-era, Central American shenanigans, can’t reconcile Hathaway’s dedicated news hound to her run of catastrophic decisions. Continue Reading
Taught pacing and tense action lifts 21 Bridges above run of the mill thrillers, but it could have been released any time since Pacino’s 1973 Serpico. A remarkably old fashioned police corruption thriller redeemed by Chadwick Boseman’s maverick detective, 21 Bridges suffers from predictable plotting and a thunderously OTT soundtrack that belongs to Cape Fear.
This little indie gem almost got lost in the Autumn movie flood. An R-rated (sweary, splattery) piece that treads in the footprints of X-Men, Carrie, Let Me In, Midnight Special and any of Del Torro’s child-centred fantasies, Freaks takes it’s time, playing fast and loose with genre and perspective to reveal to it’s alternative super hero core. The indomitable Bruce Dern makes the most of grouchy ice cream vendor Mr Snowcone, but it’s debutant Lexy Kolker who holds the stage as the desperate and vulnerable ‘princess in the tower’ Chloe.
The easy labelling of Wash Westmoreland’s twisty adaptation of Susanna Jones’ novel as Hitchcockian may be praise too far, but Netflix’s Earthquake Bird is a tense, bilingual, multi-layered drama.
From the first frame, Alicia Vikander’s stranger in a foreign land is clearly a broken soul, travelling the crowded streets and subways of Tokyo in bleak isolation. When she becomes involved with creepy street photographer Teiji (Naoki Kobayashi), and they try to wheedle out each other’s many secrets, you’re wondering if this is another Michael Powell Peeping Tom, or a darkly subdued Basic Instinct.
This highly effective occupation-and-resistance thriller could have been set under the Nazis in WWII or behind the Soviet Iron Curtain. But this is set several years after spikey alien space pirates (the Legislators) have taken over and established a surveillance state, overseen by collaborating humans.
Denzel Washington reunites with his old mucker Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) for another instalment of immaculately assembled but brutally violent old-guy-with-skills-beats-up-the-bad-guys. Still dealing out old-style Biblical justice, Denzel’s Robert McCall turns out not only to have been CIA but Special Forces. When his retired CIA handler is killed, McCall goes on a Taken/Jack Reacher mission of vengeance. Only this time, the increasingly self-righteous old boy bangs on about God, sin and justice a little too much to justify his Old Testament punching, stabbing and shooting spree. Continue Reading
Noomi Rapace totally carries this counter-terrorism thriller straight out of Spooks; as troubled CIA interrogator Alice Racine, Rapace is called in to ‘unlock’ a courier and foil a bio-weapons attack on London, only to find the CIA compromised and rogue elements using the attack for their own purposes.
Run-of-the-mill plotting has to be shored up by John Malcovich and Michael Douglas in the senior roles, while Toni Collette surprises (again) as an MI5 operations chief. Unfortunately, the whole thing is almost sunk by Orlando Bloom’s ghastly stinker of a performance as Rapace’s side-kick.