Director: Niels Arden Oplev, Anders W Berthelsen
Writer: Anders Thomas Jensen (Screenplay) Puk Damsgaard Andersen (Book)
Starring: Esben Smed, Toby Kebbell, Sara Hjort Ditlevsen
Plot: The story of Danish photographer Daniel Rye, who was captured by ISIS in Syria in 2013 and held hostage for 398 days.
Runtime: 2 Hours 18 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Story: Daniel starts as we see the gymnastics career of Daniel Rye (Smed) fall apart, leaving him unsure of his future, before he finds his new passion, photography, this will see him start to travel the world, seeing him head to Syria, capturing the calm before storms of fighting, stepping into different danger zones in the country.
This dream job turns into a nightmare when ISIS capture him and start torturing him believing he is involved with the CIA, his family must watch on helplessly beck in Denmark, while Daniel does everything he can to try and survive the situation.
Thoughts on Daniel
Characters & Performances – Daniel Rye has just started his career in photojournalism when he was reporting in Syria and finds himself taken by ISIS used as a hostage, left helpless in the hands of the terrorists, he tries to stay positive, befriending a fellow hostage, but he is ready to accept his fate if needed. James Foley is the man that tries to bring the hostages together, keeping their spirits up, which only angers the captors, he is the person Daniel becomes closest to during their time together. Both Esben Smed and Toby Kebbell, show us the difficult times the pair go through, not knowing what will happen to them next. We do meet Daniel’s family who are tyring to find a way to save him, looking at different option which might be considered illegal.
Story – The story here follows the real events of Daniel Rye’s kidnapping by ISIS, where we follow his struggle to survive and his family’s struggle to find a way to rescue him and pay off the ransom. This is an interest look at one of the most difficult times for a family, seeing how they reacted to a hostage situation, though we have heard and seen many of these before, we don’t seem to get anything we haven’t seen before, showing how ruthless and committed to their cause the terrorists are, while showing how helpless the family can look. While we don’t need to see the conditions the hostages find themselves in, it might have been more intense to show us just how bad the chances of survive might have been.
Themes – Daniel does give us a look at the drama that revolves around a hostage situation, showing how helpless both sides can be, showing us that hope is all they can do. The film does create the settings to show the horrendous conditions the hostages are kept in throughout their ordeal.
Final Thoughts – Daniel is a harrowing look at how a survivor of a hostage situation got through.
Signature Entertainment present Daniel on Digital Platforms 18th January
Writer: Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, Mona Fastvold, Brock Norman Brock (Screenplay)
Starring: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jason Mitchell, Bruce Dern, Gideon Adlon, Connie Britton, Josh Stewart
Plot: The story of Roman Coleman, a violent convict, who is given the chance to participate in a rehabilitation therapy program involving the training of wild mustangs.
Tagline – Untamed Souls. Kindred Spirits.
Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Beautiful Drama
Story: The Mustang starts as we meet dangerously violent criminal Roman (Schoenaerts) who likes to keep away from people, he keeps to himself in prison and has just been transferred. Roman gets a chance to work outside with the horses on the ranch, first on clean up duty before getting a chance to work with the horses, including one wild mustang that no one can handle.
As Roman gets closer to the horse that he names Marcus, he finds himself wanting to reassess his decisions and try to rebuild the relationship he left behind with his daughter Martha (Adlon) and slowly start to learn about controlling his anger.
Thoughts on The Mustang
Characters – Roman is a violent criminal that has been in prison for 12-years, he action were caused by failure to control his rage, which sees him want to stay away from people as much as he possible can, he has remained distant to his own daughter that still visits him. When Roman is given the chance to work with animals, he finds himself learning from his own mistakes, looking to put something else first before himself as he starts to look to correct the errors of his ways. Henry is one of the other inmates, one that helps Roman with the horses, one that is friendly to the other inmates. Myles is the man that is running the horse program, he will give the men a chance, if they mess up, they are out of the program, it is his choice is you stay. Martha is the daughter of the Roman, she is trying to move on with her life with her first child, but needs her father to let her go. She is the last one of the family that still visits Roman.
Performances – Matthias Schoenaerts is outstanding in the leading role of the film, giving one of the best performances of the year showing all the pain, regret and loneliness he has created himself. The rest of the cast do everything well, with Jason Mitchell bringing the buddy figure to life, Bruce Dern the wise older figure and Connie Britton as the person trying to help.
Story – The story here follows a violent criminal that is given a chance to work with horses to try and help reshape his future, giving him a chance to eliminate the anger which has caused him problems in the past. This story is designed to show us how the horse training program that is being used in multiply states to help the prisoners rehab better than other prisons. The story itself shows us just how one man saw a change in his own character given his own time with the horses, seeing how he improves himself with the contact with just a horse. It is an amazing redemption story that is must watch for everyone who gets enjoyment out of the story.
Settings – The film does take us the prison setting, which shows that this is the one place Roman wants to feel safe away from the world, with the horses giving him a chance of freedom, one day.
Scene of the Movie – The alone time with the horse.
Final Thoughts – This is an amazing drama that shows us the troubles inmates will be put through and how a therapy is helping them improve themselves with their connection with horses.
Overall: Matthias Delivers a Powerhouse Performance.