ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – K – Kill List (2011)

Director: Ben Wheatley

Writer: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump (Screenplay)

Starring: Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring, Harry Simpson, Michael Smiley, Emma Fryer, Struan Rodger

 

Plot: Nearly a year after a botched job, a hitman takes a new assignment with the promise of a big payoff for three killings. What starts off as an easy task soon unravels, sending the killer into the heart of darkness.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 35 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Unsettling Thriller

 

Story: Kill List starts as we meet Jay (Maskell) who is married to Shel (Buring) with a young boy Sam (Simpson), the couple are always arguing and with Jay’s best friend and business partner Gal (Smiley) coming to dinner, a job offer is placed on the table.

The job for Jay & Gal who are hitmen that have taken a back burner after a job went wrong are sent to eliminate targets for their next client which leads them down a brutal path which will only leave them in complete shock.

 

Thoughts on Kill List

 

Characters – Jay is the former hitmen that is trying to move away from the job, one year after his final job he is talked into one more job which will give him enough money to cover the financial problems his family is going through. The job starts simple enough only for it to turn him into a paranoid angry man who is taking everything personally. Shel is Jay’s wife, she is frustrated with the fact he has spent most of their money forcing him to return to the work he was meant to leave behind, always arguing with him even though it is clear the love between the two is strong. Sam is the innocent young child of the two. Gal is the partner and best friend of Jay, he is the one that tries to keep his head on his shoulders, he sees his friend losing his mind and puts him back on track for the most part.

PerformancesNeil Maskell in the leading role is great because we see how he makes us feel as unsettled as his character is meant to be through the film. Michael Smiley as the main supporting character and he helps us understand how things needed to become calm through the bad times. MyAnna Buring as the wife is good without getting that moment that standout.

StoryThe story follows two hitmen that must take one job which seems simple only to take a dramatic twist along the way. This is a story which starts out on a path which you know the two hitmen are not the nice guys and soon things just get weird with every encounter things start to play out like they have never dealt with before which only grabs the audience to want to know what will happen next to the characters. this gives us an unsettling feeling from start to finish with a conclusion that will leave you jaw-dropped in true surprise with how everything ended up. This is from director Ben Wheatley who has always managed to give his stories a unique feel, this is why people will rave over this director for years.

Crime/HorrorThis movie takes us into the crime world in which Jay and Gal operate in as hitmen, we get to see how they go about this job, conduct kills, clean ups and get on with life. The horror comes from early hints in the film before showing us the true nature to everything going on which will become horrifying,

SettingsThe film shows us the settings used by the hitmen to be everyday locations where the predators they believe they are killing operate without anyone knowing. This helps us understand the dangers of not knowing everything about our neighbours.


Scene of the Movie –
That ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Jay isn’t the most likeable character.

Final ThoughtsThis is easily one of the most shocking and unsettling films you will see, it has suspense throughout and an ending you will NEVER forget.

 

Overall: Suspenseful treat.

Rating

 

 

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Evan Rachel Wood Weekend – The Ides of March (2011)

Director: George Clooney

Writer: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon (Screenplay) Beau Willimon (Play)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright

 

Plot: An idealistic staffer for a new presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.


Tagline – Ambition seduces. Power corrupts.

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: All-Star Political Thriller

 

Story: The Ides of March starts as we follow Stephen Meters (Gosling) leading the campaign for presidential candidate Governor Mike Morris (Clooney) under Paul Zara (Hoffman), they are going against Tom Duffy (Giamatti) who is running the campaign for Senator Pullman (Mantell). We are heading into the final week of the campaign as things start to heat up.

When Stephen learns the dirty side to politics, he is caught up in the middle of doing the right thing and getting the win for his candidate, learning that this game is just as dangerous when it gets turned against him.

 

Thoughts on The Ides of March

 

Characters – Stephen Meyers is the ambitious campaign manager who is wildly considered one of the best in the business with his ability to handle the media and remain calm through any situation. His life is turned upside when he becomes a pawn in the dirty tactics involved in an election race and he will need to roll his sleeves up to fight back. Governor Mike Morris is the man Stephen is working for, he is the underdog in the race and seems like the perfect candidate, only he has secrets which could ruin his campaign. Paul is Stephen’s boss, the man who took a chance on Stephen, he values loyalty over anything else and doesn’t always trust the people around him. Tom Duffy is the campaign manager on the opposite side, he does like the ideas Stephen is playing and wants him on his team, he is the first one to play him into his own game. Molly is the intern on the staff that could bring down the whole campaign with her secret. Ida is a journalist that will do anything for a story which will get her on the front page.

PerformancesIn the performances we have a list of all-star actors that show us just how an ensembled cast can make a movie so enjoyable. We have Ryan Gosling taking centre stage, George Clooney playing a role her is perfect for and Hoffman and Giamatti that are just acting masters with these roles showing just how talented they are.

StoryThe story here follows a younger political man o the verge of his biggest campaign victory, when he gets shown the darker side of politics. Now this is an interesting story as we see how the innocent man must get dirty to survive the game and how the seasoned veterans of the game know every trick that will come their way. The mix of this keeps us on the edge of our seat through the film, the weakness in the film comes from the non-Americans struggle to keep up with who is one which Republican or Democratic side of the discussion and what level this is for the presidential candidate races. Unless you know the American political system you might fall short knowing everything going on here.

ThrillerThis film does keep us on edge through the events of the campaign, this is what we want and the twists in the darker side of the political system become clear by the end.

SettingsThe film throws us into every potential political arena you can think of, we get plenty of discussions some in secret others in an open forum to just what goes on behind the scenes of a campaign race.

 

Scene of the Movie – This will be my campaign.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not understand the American political system.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good political thriller that will keep you guessing from start to finish, it has a brilliant cast that all shine too.

 

Overall: Keeps you guessing from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

Antono Banderas Weekend – Haywire (2011)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Lem Dobbs (Screenplay)

Starring: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas

 

Plot: A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.


Tagline – They left her no choice.

Runtime: 1 Hour 33 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappointing Action

 

Story: Haywire starts as Mallory Kane (Carano) a black ops soldier for the CIA is currently on the run after her partners Aaron (Tatum), Kenneth (McGregor), Rodrigo (Banderas) an Alex (Douglas) have set up to eliminate her. Mallory looks back on her career with the mission which things went wrong, one where she must get to know a MI6 agent Paul (Fassbender).

Mallory needs to bring down the men who have been setting her up, while finding the only person she can trust John (Paxton) her father, here she knows she can trust him to help her expose the corruption that is framing her.

 

Thoughts on Haywire

 

Characters – Mallory is the black ops soldier, now on the run after being set up by her own people, she uses her skills to remain ahead of them, using her combat skills to disarm the situations and tries to figure out who she can trust. This is basically a female version of Jason Bourne. Kenneth is the one the liaised on the last mission and the one that is currently after Mallory, he answers to people above his head, while control the ones below. Paul is the agent that Mallory is meant to meet, the one that she ended up coming to blows with leading to her to being chased. We have the people above Mallory that just want to see a mess cleaned up, while others are just facing orders.

PerformancesGina Carano is the star of the showing in the leading role, she handles all the action with ease and makes us believe she could be a threat for anybody who messes with her. The supporting male cast handle the heavy dialogue scenes, which takes away the one weakness Gina could have.

StoryThe story follows a black ops soldier that must clear her name, while being hunted down by the employees after a mission goes wrong. This is a style of story we have seen before, it is one that is a tried and tested formula, this way of telling the story, however, is weak, mainly because we are doing a large part of it in flashback style, which takes away any peril in the film for Mallory. We also try to get over-complicated with the motivation behind trying to frame her and by the end we don’t feel like we have experienced a tense enough action film. the music doesn’t help this movie either because it makes it feel like we are just watching slick heist movie.

ActionGina Carano does her best to save this film with her action star abilities with combat, they are the only enjoyed scenes in the film.

SettingsThe film does take us around the world for the action scenes, showing this to be a worldwide operation.


Scene of the Movie –
The hotel escape sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The end fight feels like just a training montage.

Final ThoughtsThis is an action film that had potential, only for it to become to average with the story, with the one highlight being Gina Carano.

 

Overall: Basic action flick.

Rating

 

 

Antonio Banderas Weekend – The Skin I Live In (2011)

Director: Pedro Almodovar

Writer: Pedro Almodovar, Agustin Almodovar (Screenplay) Thierry Jonquet (Novel)

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Jan Cornet, Eduard Fernandez, Jose Luis Gomez

 

Plot: A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Chilling & Disturbing

 

Story: The Skin I Live In starts as we see how Robert’s (Banderas) research as a plastic surgeon has helped create a new form of synthetic skin to help burn victims recover from the pain they suffer through, he has a guinea pig for this, Vera (Anaya) who has been suffering the pain for years, though his research has made it bearable for her, with her special body suit to protect her.

Robert can’t get approval from the medical boards to continue his work, which shows as it turns out Vera is being hidden from the world, though he does have his own motives for trying to find a cure after a tragedy involving his wife and daughter.

 

Thoughts on The Skin I Live In

 

Characters – Robert is a plastic surgeon with a tragic past, he lost his wife due to the after effects of a fire accident and his daughter to another. He doesn’t want anyone else to go through these pains and has created a new synthetic skin to help recover damaged skin on burn victims, the question is, will he go too far in his search for answers? Vera is the guinea pig, still suffering just as badly as she once was, she has a bond with Robert while also wanting to escape from him. Marilia is the mother of Robert, he has remained loyal to her and she has helped him with his projects no matter whether they are right or wrong. Vicente is a young man from the town that commits a horrible crime and believes nothing of it.

PerformancesAntonio Banderas in the leading role is unlike anything we have seen from him before, cold, calculated and always planning, it is a very disturbing performance for the most part. Elena Anaya is great in her role as the guinea pig which only makes you think how good her performance is once you learn the full story. Marisa Paredes gives us a good strong supporting performance and Jan Cornet is great in his role in the film.

StoryThe story here follows a plastic surgeon trying to make a difference in the world, he has a guinea pig locked away as he tries to make a skin that is harder than normal ski to help recovery, only he is haunted by his past and has taken shocking decisions along the way to change it forever. The story starts off feeling like an interesting science related one, then suddenly it takes a big twist that will leave you needing to re-digest everything you saw in the first half of the film. this is a story that will stick with you because of how chilling and disturbing the story gets and will make you want to pause and react before learning the next chapter of the secret. A story like this is one you must applaud for being different surprising and one that will stick with you.

HorrorThe horror elements of this film come from what we learn, they will shock you and disturb just as much as they should.

SettingsThe film keeps us in Robert’s house for the most part, it is isolated away from the world, just the way he likes it, which has helped his patients before only now, it will be for his own benefit.


Scene of the Movie –
The truth is the moment that will stick with you.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lost track about what is finally happening to Norma, his daughter.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most shocking and disturbing movies you will see even if it starts seemingly harmless.

 

Overall: Will leave you shocked.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Thor (2011) Revisited

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz, Don Payne (Screenplay) Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby (Comic Book)

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings

 

Plot: The powerful, but arrogant god Thor, is cast out of Asgard to live amongst humans in Midgard (Earth), where he soon becomes one of their finest defenders.


Tagline – Two worlds. One hero.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Highly Entertaining

 

Story: Thor starts when astrophysicist Jane Foster (Portman) discovering a cosmic event in the New Mexico desert with her team Erik Selvig (Skarsgard) and Darcy (Dennings). We head up to Asgard next as Odin (Hopkins) tells the history of his people, the battle with the frost giants, his two sons Thor (Hemsworth) and Loki (Hiddleston) that will one day replace him as King.

When the Frost Giants try to enter Asgard, Thor decides to lead a team to retaliate, which sees Odin banish him to Earth. Thor must learn his place in the universe, with Jane helping him, while Loki takes his place as King of Asgard even if his past sees him wanting the events of the film to happen.

 

Thoughts on Thor

 

Characters – Thor is the son of Odin, he is soon to become King, but his over confrontational nature sees him disobeying his father’s orders, he is a fearless warrior who is banished to Earth, without his powers. This is a lesson for him to learn about fighting the right wars, not starting them, until he learns this, his powers won’t return to him. Janes Foster is an astrophysicist that has been searching for answers in the cosmos, her research has seen her finding unexplained answers in the universe, she could finally get answers with Thor’s appearance, she is willing risk her career for answers. Loki is the brother of Thor, he has been planning on taking over Asgard instead of his brother, he knows his past and has been waiting for his moment to become King. Odin is the king of Asgard, he has kept the peace for centuries and is running short on patience for his son’s action, he wants to teach Thor a lesson, while needing to tell Loki about his own past.

PerformancesChris Hemsworth is fantastic in the leading role, he has the look and shows the comic timing which has become the staple of his character. Natalie Portman is strong enough even if the character is disappointing, Tim Hiddleston shows us his calm persona behind his character, with Anthony Hopkins doing everything you would imagine he would bring to a father figure.

StoryThe story here follows Thor as he must learn his truth strength when it comes to one day become King of Asgard, this will see him losing his powers and learning to control his desires while his brother is positioning himself for power. Thor is yet another character we knew very little about going in (unless you read the comics), we get to see his past, how the world he is from is created, the dynamics behind the characters involved, even before we get to Earth. On Earth we learn more about the SHIELD and how they are still investigating the bigger picture of unexplained weapons. This does show us just how important waiting for power is more important than being given power, we get to see how another hero is introduced to us for the bigger picture.

Action/Fantasy The action is at the large scale here with the battles being hordes of enemies for Thor at times, we do get the giant battle against the enemy physically bigger and stronger that Thor must learn to defeat as well as the traditional final fight which shows us the sacrifice a king must make. The fantasy world created shows us the world of Gods being real, being one away from our own, while still being connected in folk lore.

SettingsThe vision of Asgard is beautiful, with towering buildings, a place where you would imagine Gods living. The second settings takes us to New Mexico which plans into the fish out of water scenario.

Special EffectsThe effects are the best in the franchise to date, the pure scale of the enemies involved, the worlds created and fight sequences makes this look beautiful to watch even with the CGI heavy usage.


Scene of the Movie –
Bifrost fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain parts of Loki’s plan seem confusing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the enjoyable comic book movies you will see, we get the big action sequences, we get some laughs and we see the star of Chris Hemsworth take full advantage of his opportunity.

 

Overall: Great Fun.

Rating