Mine (2016)

Director: Fabio Guaglione, Fabio Resinaro

Writer: Fabio Guaglione, Fabio Resinaro (Screenplay)

Starring: Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cullen, Clint Dyer, Geoff Bell, Juliet Aubrey

 

Plot: After a failed assassination attempt, a soldier finds himself stranded in the desert. Exposed to the elements, he must survive the dangers of the desert and battle the psychological and physical tolls of the treacherous conditions.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Very Intense Thriller

 

Story: Mine starts as sniper Mike (Hammer) and his spotter Tommy (Cullen) on an assassination mission but when Mike isn’t 100% sure that is his target is the required one, this leads to the position being giving away and the two on the run through the desert looking for rescue.

When the two stumbles across a mine field warning sign floating around the desert, Mike becomes worried while Tommy believes it could have come from anywhere, continuing their mission Tommy detonates a mine while Mike finds himself stood on one not being able to move.

With no GPS available and limited resources Mike’s only hope of survival is 52 hours away, now he must look for the best way to survive with a sandstorms, enemies and exhausting being his main threat.

 

Thoughts on Mine

 

Characters – Mike is the sniper on the mission, he doesn’t complete the mission due to too many variables from the source information and along with his spotter must retreat for evocation, things don’t go as planned once he finds himself stepping on a land mine, not being able to move, we are left to see his survival skills. Tommy is the spotter for Mike, he has been at war longer and has family back home, he is killed once he steps on a mine which leads to certain questions about the character being so naïve in a war environment. Jenny is the girlfriend of Mike’s back home, she is the main motivation for Mike to keep strong through his deadly situation.

PerformanceArmie Hammer is a guy that has taken a lot of stick through the years and this year his performances have shown us just how capable he is, Mine gives us a solo performance which shows he can carry a movie, Annabelle Wallis does well with her supporting performance without needing to do anything difficult and Tom Cullen is solid in the supporting role, he doesn’t do anything wrong as a performer even if the character seems naïve.

StoryThe story follows one man trapped on a landmine in the middle of the desert, we watch how he faces his potential death as he looks back through moments of his life where he stepped into situation he regretted as well as the moments that made him who he is. This does fall into the bracket of one man trying to survive in a film which is always an intense story to watch but looking into his past regrets and memories reflect that we all step on landmines through life at times.

Thriller/WarWe are kept on the edge of our seats through the film wanting to know is Mike can survive the situation he finds himself in which does revolve around the idea of what is left because of the war in the mines rather than focusing on the conflict.

SettingsThe middle of the desert does make for the fantastic setting for this movie, Mike has nowhere to go, battling the elements and little chance of success for the most part.

Special EffectsThe effects are used well through the film, the film doesn’t turn to them often but when needed they are effective.

Scene of the Movie – The last visit of the stranger, shows us the effect of the war on the innocent people too.

That Moment that annoyed me It could easily get people turned off with the pure number random visit Mike must face because we just get left wondering how many are real or not.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good intense thriller along the line of Buried and well worth a watch throughout, it might become slightly confusing by the end but you do get rewarded by the end.

 

Overall: Good thriller well worth watching.

Rating

 

 

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The Wall (2017)

Director: Doug Liman

Writer: Dwain Worrell (Screenplay)

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, Laith Nakli

 

Plot: Two American Soldiers are trapped by a lethal sniper, with only an unsteady wall between them.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good Thriller

 

Story: The Wall starts as follow two American soldiers Isaac (Taylor-Johnson) and Matthews (Cena) who have been watching over pipe works in the Iraq desert, after nearly 18 hours with no sign of life, Matthews decides to walk to the only area that looks like danger a Wall.

When Matthews is hit by an unknown sniper, Isaac goes down to rescue him but finds himself needing to use the wall as cover injured himself too. With no way of rescuing Matthews, Isaac tries desperately to get help on the radio on to learn he is chatting to the enemy sniper Juba (Nakli). We are left in a cat and mouse situation as the two get to know each other, while waiting for the other to make a mistake.

 

Thoughts on The Wall

 

Characters – Isaac is the wounded soldier trapped behind the wall waiting for a mistake from Juba, he is bleeding out and has no connection for rescue, the two chat on the radio as Isaac must find a way to survive the situation. Matthews is fellow soldiers that gets hit by the rouge sniper, he spends most of the film out in the field while the others do battle. Juba is the sniper of legends, nicknamed ‘The Ghost’ because of how deadly he is on the battle field.

PerformanceAaron Taylor-Johnson must do most of the carrying of this film, he does a great job at this because you are held on every word he wants to say and action he makes, John Cena is solid but doesn’t have much to do, Laith Nakli is all voice work as he is the one talking to Isaac through the film.

StoryThe story is simple to follow, two soldiers trapped against a lone sniper with nowhere to hide. It is a cat and mouse battle between the two sides as they look to get one up on each other. Having previously seen the movie Mine which also follows a soldier trapped in Iraq minus the sniper it does feel like this is more of the same even if the added inclusion of the sniper does make it feel more intense.

Thriller/WarYou are kept on the edge of your seat wondering how things will unfold between the two sides and the war setting only intensifies things as we hear both sides of the war.

SettingsThe location is key for this movie as we watch how the characters must do battle in a place where running or rescue isn’t going to be something that can be achieved.

Scene of the Movie – First attack by the sniper.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It could have been a lot more intense.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good addition to the genre of person trapped against enemy that could kill them but it doesn’t reach the highest levels.

 

Overall: Good thriller nothing more.

Rating

 

 

Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan (Screenplay)

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Harry Styles

 

Plot: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic War Thriller

 

Story: Dunkirk starts as we English soldier Tommy (Whitehead) desperately making his way to the beach on Dunkirk for the evacuation of the British Soldiers, all 400,000 are waiting for this moment, as Commander Bolton (Branagh) is arranging this on the beach as the soldiers are being picked off from the air. Back home Mr Dawson (Rylance) is taking his son Peter (Glynn-Carney) and friend George (Keoghan) by his small weekend yacht to Dunkirk as the private boats are being called upon to rescue the soldiers. In the air spitfires pilots Farrier (Hardy) and Collins (Lowden) are leading the battle from the skies as they look to defend the returning ships.

The three stories play out through the different time leading up to the final moments of the film in what is known as one of the greatest rescue missions of all time in any war.

 

Thoughts on Dunkirk

 

Characters – Tommy, Gibson and Alex are three soldiers stuck on the beach of Dunkirk, they try their hardest to get off the beach of Dunkirk, we see their struggles like many of the soldiers who would have wanted safety in the horrors of war. Mr Dawson, Peter and George show three figures who couldn’t fight in the war but will do everything for their own part in saving the soldiers. The Shivering soldier shows us the effects of war on these soldiers as he doesn’t want to return to the horrors. Commander Bolton shows us how a leader should act on the battle field, being prepared to wait for his men to be saved before himself. Farrier and Collins show us the risk from the air and just how dangerous this side of the battle. We might not learn too much about the characters backgrounds but we also don’t need to, this story is about the heroic story not what these men did before became soldiers.

PerformanceTom Hardy is easily the stand out star of this movie, but it does help that he plays the character with the most intense scenes. Cillian Murphy shows us once again he doesn’t need to be the main star of a movie to be the star and Mark Rylance follows up his recent war time Oscar win with another brilliant supporting performance. We also get to see Kenneth Branagh give us the great leader role. Extra praise must go to the unknown actors here too, Fionn Whitehead in the leading role, fantastic, Aneurin Barnard who I recently saw in a terrible horror film was also fantastic, Tom Glynn-Carney and jack Lowden both seem to shine next to Rylance throughout too. The biggest talking point about this film came in the casting of popstar Harry Styles, I have always defended this choice, and even the biggest haters of this ‘singer’ will be left applauding the guy who is wonderful in this role.

StoryThe story is known as one of Britain’s greatest rescue missions, when all hope looked lost the miracle that stop 400,000 soldiers being slaughter happened, yes, we do know the end of this story from the start. The story is split into 3 times, one covering a week, one covering a day and the other covering hours but this is designed to build up to the one moment showing the struggles the character’s involved must face. I believe this does reward by the end but at times could be difficult for some people to follow.

Action/History/WarThe action sequences are fantastic throughout the film, we don’t see the blood and gore of the war like in Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge and for me that was good. The history of this war time event will live long in the memory of those involved and is easily one of Britain’s finest moments of unity.

SettingsEach setting looks fantastic and you can fully believe you are part of this war with these soldiers.

Special EffectsAll the effects are created to show us the stark reality of the war for the men involved, we don’t have anything going over the top which also helps.

Scene of the Movie – Spitfire over Dunkirk, this scene feels haunting throughout.

I always get annoyed by one thing in a movie, this is that moment I would say the scenes when Farrier is looking at the instruments in the cockpit, everything just went over my head there.

Final ThoughtsThis is the best British story from a World War II film that could stand on the same levels as Saving Private Ryan any day of the week.

 

Overall: Breath taking experience from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves (Screenplay) Pierre Boulle (Novel)

Starring: Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Ty Olsson, Amiah Miller, Sara Canning, Max Lloyd-Jones

 

Plot: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blockbuster of the Year

 

Story: War for the Planet of the Apes starts as two years have passed after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Caesar (Serkis) has had his ape herd in hiding with the humans desperately searching to finish the job on the apes.

The conflict between the humans now led by The Colonel (Harrelson) and the apes has intensified and after Caesar is pushed past his limits of peace he sends the ape herd to safety and goes on his own mission with his three most trusted allies Maurice (Konoval) often the voice of reason, Rocket (Notary) who would fight to the death to save Caesar and Luca (Adamthwaite) who sees his own kind betraying the apes to work for the humans.

Without giving too much more away we see how Caesar searches to find an end to the war be it peaceful or not, so his herd can just live in peace instead of watching out for humans wanting to kill them.

 

Thoughts on War for the Planet of the Apes

 

Characters/PerformanceCaesar is the hero of the previous two films, he leads the apes, he wants peace between humans and apes but this time he is pushed two far as we see a darker side of Caesar come out. We get a full story arc for Caesar through the films now but his nature has always stayed true, protect the apes from humans. The Colonel is the villain of the piece, he wants to eliminate all apes and he will not blink in his methods, he does have plenty of twists to his story arc too. Maurice has been by the side of Caesar since Rise and still his voice of reason when making any decision, the heart this character shows also brings the human child along too. Bad Ape adds the only comedy to the movie, but we didn’t need to much either, Nova shows the consequences of the war that has now been raging for 17 years has had on the Earth. Rocket is the loyal soldier willing to die. We do have other characters that don’t get flushed out as much but otherwise they do all fit their role in the film.

Performance wise, Andy Serkis completes his third outing as Caesar and shows just how fantastic he is, give this man an Oscar nomination. Woody Harrelson is a great villain and easily the best human villain the trilogy has seen, I saw parts that reminded me of what Negan is like in the Walking Dead where he comes onto the screen gives a speech seemingly never blinking and having you just want to hear more from his. The rest of the motion capture cast are all brilliant too and the humans we see are good too.

StoryThe story does continue on the Planet of the Apes saga, we get to see how the end of the last film effected the world with the military ruthlessly hunting down the apes now. We get to see just how far Caesar could be pushed with his arc being told perfectly, the film does also go in a direction I wasn’t expecting which I did like too. If you have followed and enjoyed the first two this will feel like the bow on top of the packet it is that interesting of a story.

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/WarThe action sequences are tied in with the war side of the film as most are the elaborate battle sequences which all work and do something different on each battle. The adventure side of the film does suffer now though as we do get part adventure but in the end, we just fall into focusing on the other elements of the film. the sci-fi side of the film does show the future world that apes look to control.

SettingsThe settings bring another fresh look to the trilogy, first it was the big city, then it was the woods and the city now it is the mountain range with snow being added into the mix, the settings all work and look great through the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are brilliant, the motion capture is fantastic and this film shows just how to use special effects to their upmost.

Final ThoughtsThis has completed one of the best film trilogies of modern cinema, sure we could knit pick a couple of moments but otherwise the emotional rollercoaster you go on will leave you needing to take a breath by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Brilliant, stunning and the best modern cinema trilogy.

Rating

 

 

War Machine (2017)

Director: David Michod

Writer: David Michod (Screenplay) Michael Hastings (Book)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Anthony Michael Hall, Emory Cohen, Topher Grace, Ben Kingsley, Scoot McNairy

 

Plot: An absurdist war story for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General’s roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody – raising the specter of just where the line between them lies today. His is an exploration of a born leader’s ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly. At the story’s core is Brad Pitt’s sly take on a successful, charismatic four-star general who leapt in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist’s no-holds-barred exposé.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Comedy

 

Story: War Machine starts as highly respected and inspiration General Glen McMahon (Pitt) getting recruited to Afghanistan to see how the war is going over there, Glen brings his trusted men Pete Duckman (Hayes), Cory Staggart (Magaro), Greg Pulver (Hall), Willy Dunne (Cohen), Matt Little (Grace) and Andy Moon (Cyler) to bring the base together fixing the divide and keep the American side of the war happy back home.

We watch how Gen McMahon looks to recruit enough soldiers to make his plan to stop the problems happening in Afghanistan by using the counter insurgence tactics which have famously never worked before. Glen leads his close-knit group around Europe to find the rest of soldiers required from the allies of the United States as he continues his idea of peaceful removal of insurgence instead of just killing them.

 

Thoughts on War Machine

 

Characters/PerformanceGeneral Glen McMahon is assigned to Afghanistan to finish the war against the insurgence, he is respected and gets results by doing things his way. He wants to change things and make it feel like a war over a holiday image he sees it looking like. Greg Pulver is the loyalist man to Glen, he has been by his side from the start and is a loose cannon at times. The rest of the characters do all include the type of figures you would expect all getting the screen time required for the characters importance.

Performance wise, Brad Pitt is fantastic in this leading role showing us he can do comedy through a straight-faced role. Outside of Pitt it would be fair to say everybody else does a good job through this film fitting the chemistry required for the role.

StoryThe story is part parody and part light-hearted humour of how the war in Afghanistan could look like, more politics than conflict. We do also get the reality of war thrown at us and this shows us just what the problem with the war in Afghanistan. The story does feel long in places as this is two hours long but it is worth it for the reality check it gives.

Comedy/War The comedy comes from the reality check of how naïve the war in Afghanistan was, it’s not a laugh a minute it is a laugh of that was stupid wasn’t it. The war side of the film comes from trying to solve the problem without conflict.

SettingsEach setting looks good for the film and shows us just how this was for the soldiers would have come off comfortable for the soldiers over the previous wars.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that is worth watching, it does have good moments on reality but it also has the moments that show how pointless the battle came off as.

 

Overall: One to watch.

Rating