The Spy (2019) Movie Review

Director: Jens Jonsson

Writer: Harald Rosenlow-Eeg, Jan Trygve Royneland (Screenplay)

Starring: Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Rolf Lassgard, Damien Chapelle, Alexander Scheer, Erik Hivju, Edvin Endre

Plot: Sonja Wigert is a diva and star in Stockholm when WW2 breaks out, rapidly getting attention from the Nazi officer Josef Terboven. She’s then recruited by Swedish intelligence as a spy, but Terboven makes her spy on the Swedes.

Runtime: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Spy Thriller 101

Story: The Spy starts as we see entertainer Sonja Wigert (Berdal) wow the crowds in Sweden, she has drawn the attention of new Nazi leader of the country Josef Terboven (Scheer). As it becomes clear the Andor Gellert (Chapelle) would like to keep Sonja around, the Swedish intelligence turn to her to start spying on him, giving them crucial information during the war.

As Sonja gets closer to Josef, she meets Hungarian officer Andor, she starts to find herself being torn between finding the secrets, giving away secret or just being with a man that she loves.

Thoughts on The Spy

Characters – Sonja Wigert is a star of the stage, a diva that turned heads across Scandinavia, performing in Sweden she grabs the attention on a Nazi leader and is drawn into getting close to him in an attempt to get information for the intelligence in Sweden, she is left in the middle of wanting to help the people or the feelings she is having for a man that is considered the enemy. Andor Gellert is the Nazi solider placed into a position of power in Sweden, he falls for Sonja, proving to her that not every Nazi is as evil as the stories have been made out. We od have the Swedish handler, trying to keep Sonja on the right path when it comes to learning the truth and collecting information.

PerformancesIngrid Bolso Berdal is great in the leading role, she brings the presence to the stage, the insecurity off the stage and what it means to show falling in love. Damien Chapelle is strong too, which is what we will see from the whole cast in this film.

StoryThe story here follows a star and diva that is drawn into the world of espionage during World War II as she is forced to spy on the Nazis, while falling in love with her mark and being left in a position of not knowing which side to help out the most. When it comes to seeing what people have achieved in history, this will give another glimpse into the life on one of those people. The idea we watch Sonja getting caught up in the middle of what she wants to do or what she is expected to do, does come through strongly through the film.

Biopic/WarThe biopic side of the film shows what Sonja did during the war, it shows what she was forced into, risked and changed over the time.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show the different environments that Sonja finds herself in, with it in the entertainment world and the shady underworld.


Scene of the Movie – The time away.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – We don’t seem to see many secrets exchanged.

Final ThoughtsThis is a romantic thriller that shows how somebody can be drawn into the world without knowing where to stand in the middle of the war.

Overall: Wartime thriller 101

Signature Entertainment release The Spy on DVD and Digital HD 29th June

Nicole Kidman Weekend – The Railway Man (2013)

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky

Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Andy Paterson (Screenplay) Eric Lomax (Book)

Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeremy Irvine

 

Plot: A former British Army officer, who was tortured as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labor camp during World War II, discovers that the man responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him.


Tagline – Revenge is never a straight line.

Runtime: 1 Hour 56 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful True Story

 

Story: The Railway Man starts in 1980 where Eric (Firth) a train enthusiast meets a stranger on the train, Patti (Kidman), the two fall in love getting married. It isn’t long before Eric starts having terrifying flashbacks to his time in World War II, where he is held prisoner by the Japanese, here he is tortured by Takeshi Nagase.

With Eric’s behaviour only getting worse, Patti turns to Finlay (Skarsgard) one of the fellow prisoner of wars, that is still a close friend of his, he fills in the experiences the men went through under the hands of Takeshi, which will leads the older version of Eric to want to confront Takeshi or his time in the P.O.W Camp.

 

Thoughts on The Railway Man

 

Characters – We meet Eric at two stages of his life, we have the one that was tortured during the war and tried to do something to give the fellow soldiers hop in their prisoner of war camp, we also meet an older version that has been left traumatised with his experiences of the war, it has closed him off from the world, including his wife, he gets a chance to confront the soldier that tortured him, in a hope it could bring him closure. Patti is the wife of Eric, they meet on a random train journey and it is her love for Eric that first starts to seek help for him. Finlay is the closest friend to Eric, he has remained in his life after the years they have suffered through together, he fills in the blanks for Patti, after Eric closes up to her. Takeshi Nagase was the solider that tortured Eric during the war, he has since gone onto be the tour guide for the railway that was forced to be built by the English, he is surprised to get the visit from him former captive.

PerformancesColin Firth is brilliant here because he shows us just how closed off a man can be when they are dealing with the consequences of war. Nicole Kidman fits her role with ease, she plays the sympathetic figure that will help open Eric up again, showing us just how hard to is working to make happen. Jeremy Irvine as the younger version of Eric shows us the horrors of war with the pain his character must go through. Stellan Skarsgard does fill in the story telling side of the story, he will join in helping make the most of the traumatised man returning from war. Hiroyuki Sanada completes the main cast and he gives us a character that is filled with the regret of his actions in his life.

StoryThe story here follows a former prisoner of war that is still haunted by what he went through during the war and after he learns that the man who tortured him is still alive, sets out to confront him. This is an incredible true story that shows how prisoners can still be getting nightmares about what happened during the war, it shows they could close themselves off from the world. this does show us how the two men met years after the events, both are filled with memories they would rather forget and this has taken its toll on their lives for decades. It does pose the question about what you would do if you could meet the person that tortured you and what you would do, especially if it had come from during the war. Knowing this is a true story does help make it more amazing to think what Eric went through and how he would react if he could find the person that did it to him.

Romance/WarThe romance side of this film shows how Eric’s wife was able to try and pushing him to talk about what happened to him, showing her love would be what finally gets him to open up about the horrors of his war experience, the war side focuses on what it was like to be a prisoner of war, how they were forced into labour and tortured if they didn’t comply.

SettingsThe film has a couple of main settings, first we get the English home of Eric which shows him in his comfort area, we do see the prisoner or war camps which does show us just how horrific the locations were for the soldiers of war.


Scene of the Movie –
The embrace.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The do gloss over the older versions trauma too much.

Final Thoughts – This is an incredible true story that does show us just how difficult Eric’s life became after his time at war, it shows just how he had become effected and a meeting with the man that did this to him could change everything.

 

Overall: Brilliant true story.

Rating

 

 

Da 5 Bloods (2020) Movie Review

Director: Spike Lee

Writer: Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee (Screenplay)

Starring: Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Melanie Thierry, Paul Walter Hauser

Plot: Four African-American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen Squad Leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide.

Runtime: 2 Hours 34 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Excellent

Story: Da 5 Bloods starts as four veterans Paul (Lindo), Otis (Peters), Eddie (Lewis) and Melvin (Whitlock Jr) return to Vietnam to locate the remains of one of their former squad leader Norman (Boseman) who died during the war and the gold fortune they wanted to claim for themselves.

With the four setting out their plan, they must first negotiate with Desroche (Reno) to sell the gold, before David’s estranged son David (Majors) turns up and needs to be put back in his place before the journey.

Thoughts on Da 5 Bloods

Characters – Paul is the leader of the group of friends, he has suffered the most after the war, with him being the closest to the fallen brother, he wants to complete the mission and honour his old friend, even if his estranged son tries to get in the way. David is the estranged son that ends up joining the men in Vietnam, he wants to make sure his dad is ok on the journey, while it also gives him a chance to get closer and have his own adventure in life. Otis has memories off the battlefield in Vietnam, a lost love, a secret he never knew about, the one who adds the connections for the cashing in process for the men. Eddie and Melvin complete the group on the mission, they complete the banter between the men, showing how important their friendship truly is between them all.

PerformancesDelroy Lindo is outstanding in the leading role, coming back to his best like we haven’t seen before. Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr complete the main cast, each shining the in the supporting roles in the film, creating a brotherhood between the men.

StoryThe story here follows four former Vietnam war soldiers that head back years later to honour a fallen soldier and find the treasure they left behind. The story is filled with the flashbacks between the time in the war and modern day, showing how the unity between the men is still strong all these years later. We do get news clips to fill in the information that you might not understand from only learning basic history towards the Vietnam war. The tone of the story is very interesting too, because we start with the first 30 odd minutes, with the idea this could be a reunion with a serious side, that might have laughs along the way. This does drastically change when we see the affects the war had on Paul and the journey side of things, with the story continue to shift in tone through the film, which is a delight to see, with the moments of joy and intense moments both shining through.

WarThe film uses the war film to show how soldiers would have constantly been affected by the horrors they experienced long after leaving and how both sides will still be living in the haunted memories of people they lost in the war.

SettingsThe film does use the setting exceptional well too, with the opening in the big city where everything has moved on since the war, before returning to the jungle to see how this environment will continue to change Paul, after his previous experiences in the war.


Scene of the Movie – Reflection.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – It is longer than it needs to be.

Final Thoughts This is a performance heavy movie, that does show us the unity of brotherhood from war in a way that only Spike Lee can, showing a new light on the soldiers that would have been forgotten in time.

Overall: Best Performances of the year.

Tolkien (2019) Movie Review

Director: Dome Karukoski

Writer: David Gleeson, Stephen Beresford (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Tom Glynn-Carney, Patrick Gibson, Anthony Boyle

Plot: The formative years of the orphaned author J.R.R. Tolkien as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.


Tagline – A Life of Love, Courage, and Fellowship

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Biopic 101

Story: Tolkien starts as we see J.R.R Tolkien (Hoult) on the war field in World War I, suffering the effects of an attack, he starts to reflect on his early life, his troubled childhood before getting placed into a high society school, where his imagination ran wild, with his friends pushing the arts to come to life in them all.

As Tolkien starts to reach the crucial years of his life, his work was just starting to get looked at by the universities, while he was left to decide between love or education, just as the war was going to split everything open for him.

Thoughts on Tolkien

Characters – J.R.R. Tolkien does go through two main timelines, one is his search for his friends during the war, searching through the trenches, while the second seems to follow him from early school life, right up to the university, where he was looking to make his way in the writing field. Edith is the love interest that grow up with Tolkien, they both come from the same background and want to make the most of their lives, pushing them to expose their creative sides. We do the meet the group of friends that grew up together and learnt how to express their artistic sides.

PerformancesNicholas Hoult is strong in the leading role in the film, even though he doesn’t seem to have to do that much challenging, we have a cast that doesn’t put a foot wrong through the film, even if it is mostly easy to perform.

StoryThe story here follows J.R.R. Tolkien as he went through the education process right up to and including his time in World War I, which gave him the motivation to write the Lord of the Rings books. When it comes to breaking down the story, it is based on his real-life, this would be harder to over criticise because it is a lot of high society boys looking to break traditions of education and become artistic minds, instead of following the typical male career paths. This is about the bond of friendship which has been pushed to the limits once the war starts. We see plenty of glimpses of hints to what is coming with his Lord of the Rings material, which is something you just want to look out for.

Biopic/RomanceThe biopic side of the film shows us just how important his friends become to him, which would improve his creative mind unlike anyone else, with the romance side of the film falling short for the most part, as it is just in here.

SettingsThe film uses the high society lifestyle Tolkien was part of, it doesn’t give us enough hope that we could follow in his footsteps.


Scene of the Movie – First tea time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – Too much high society.

Final Thoughts This is a by the book biopic that shows how important having the right people in life can inspire you to achieve more, we have strong performances only it doesn’t give us too much hope we could follow his story.

Overall: By the Book Biopic.

ABC Film Challenge – World Cinema – Q – Three Kingdoms (2008) Movie Review

Clutching at straws again here, we are going with Q because of Maggie Q.

Director: Daniel Lee

Writer: Ho Leung Lau, Daniel Lee (Screenplay) Guanzhong Luo (Novel)

Starring: Andy Lau, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Maggie Q, Cunxin Pu, Andy Oh, Rongguang Yu, Hua Yueh, Lung Ti

Plot: His country torn asunder by civil war, Zhao Zilong, a common man heeds the call of duty and from the humblest of roots rises through the ranks on wings of courage and cunning to command an army charged with liberating the land from an evil warlord. Inspiring by action, honor and a dream of unifying his divided nation, Zhao Zilong’s heroism becomes legend, but as the years pass and the throne changes hands the war still rages on. When a newly enthroned king decides peace can only be achieved by defeating the warlords once and for all, the aging Zhao Zilong embarks on his final and greatest campaign, a road to adventure that will crown his name in glory for all time.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice History Lesson

Story: Three Kingdoms starts in the middle of a three kingdom war going on in ancient China, common man Zhao Zilong (Lau) joins Liu (Yueh) army which is winning the war with the circle opposing forces, where he meets a fellow country man Luo Ping-An (Hung) as they prepare for battle against Cao’s army.

After Zhao braves going alone to search and rescue the Emperor’s wives and child escaping the capture of the enemy army, making himself an icon in the war, and somebody Cao promises to capture one day. After decades of fighting, Zilong is the last remaining general under the Emperor and now he wants to go into one more battle which could finally unity China against Cao’s granddaughter Ying (Q).

Thoughts on Three Kingdoms

Characters – Zhao Zilong was just a small town common man that went to war to fight for peace so he could start a family, his acts of bravery saw him rise the ranks to become one of the most trusted generals for Emperor Liu, his abilities in battle show why he was the longest lasting of the generals and why he made himself a legend in the eyes of the people. Luo Ping-An was the first friend Zilong made in the army, he understands directions and stays by his side for every battle with his knowledge of the landscapes unlike anybody else. Cao Ying is the granddaughter of the enemy general, she has seen her family fall and now leads the army to finally end everything from her side of the battle. Zhuge is one of the original generals that Zilong learns from, one who would go between soldier camps to help them win battles they were outnumbered in.

PerformancesAndy Lau in the leading role shows off his fighting skills with his serious side to his character to his performance, he is the star of the film, which sees him being the best performer even though most of the cast don’t put a foot wrong.

StoryThe story shows us just how one common man turned into one of the most famous generals in ancient Chinese history, we see his rise from the bottom right to his position of legend status. This is an interesting look at one of the great wars in history, seeing how both sides were trying for something that would unit a country, even though decades of fighting didn’t help them achieve this. We mostly focus on just one man’s journey from the bottom to the top and how he became a legend in the war because of his abilities in combat and ability to motivate his army. We do skip a lot of time through the film which does take away from trying to get all the details of the war though

Action/History/WarThe action is massive when it comes to the numbers involved in the battle sequences, they look beautiful to watch too, when it comes to the history of the war we do skip over large parts of it which can be disappointing at times.

SettingsThe film here recreates the ancient Chinese era with ease, making us feel like we are part of this bigger battle.


Scene of the Movie – The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The large time jump.

Final Thoughts This is a good interesting look at history and just how much was risked during these wars, we see one man’s journey to find his own position in power too.

Overall: Strong History film.