James Bond Month – Skyfall (2012)

Director: Sam Mendes

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Characters)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney

 

Plot: Bond’s loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 23 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: The Most Intense Bond Film

 

Story: Skyfall starts as James Bond (Craig) and Eve (Harris) working on the latest daring mission which ends in failure with James killed in action after an order from M (Dench). M finds herself being forced into early retirement by Gareth Mallory (Fiennes) with her wanting to clean up the failures of her last mission, which brings James out of his hiding to return to help M with the missing information which could expose every spy in every terrorist organisation.

James must travel to Shanghai and look into M’s past for answers as the identities have started to leak online targeting M for her past sins, James will come face to face with Silva (Bardem) a former agent hellbent on revenge for being abandoned.

 

Thoughts on Skyfall

 

Characters – James Bond has a different arc to the normal, this time he has semi-retired after being killed in action, he doesn’t stay retired for long as he needs to prove he is ready to return to action, as he will need to go face to face with a former agent who has gone rogue. This does continue the arc of learning who James can trust which keeps the character feeling like he has continued his own story, rather than just being on another mission. M is left to make the difficult decision which sees James killed in action, her actions put her in the firing line of the government who want her replaced, she isn’t going to leave her post without cleaning up her latest mission failure, but she doesn’t want any more innocent people killed, it is her past that is causing the actions of Silva, she knows she made the right call with him and now trust James to fix the problems caused. Silva is a vengeful former agent that has put together a plan to bring down M for what he believes was her abandoning him to be tortured by the enemy country. He has spent years putting this plan together and isn’t going to let James be the one to bring him down. Gareth Mallory is the man assigned to create the transition between M and her replacement, he understands the middle ground and isn’t going to accept what is best for the country. Eve is the field agent that has been working with James, only for her to be the connection to help from the headquarters. Severeine is the woman that James uses to get close to Silva, we really don’t get enough from this character though.

PerformancesDaniel Craig continues to grow into the James Bond character, he handles the action with ease, shows the determination required through the film. Judi Dench gets the biggest role for the character of M, she is fantastic in this role never looking out of place showing that a person of power can become vulnerable. Javier Bardem does make a delightfully evil villain that has his own plan for revenge. Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris both provide great supporting performance, only Berenice Marlohe doesn’t get enough time to shine.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond as he must work with M to bring down a man that is determined to get revenge against her and is always one step ahead of the two. This is easily the most personal and intense story we have seen in any James Bond story, this is refreshing because we don’t get a villain who want money or destruction, they want one person to pay for their own action. The idea to dive into James’s past is interesting, it shows how he was selected in the first place, only it isn’t the best idea when you think back to the idea that each actor could be a different agent with the same code name. This story does have moments that wink to the previous films which is enjoyable to pick up on them.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film does take centre stage, the opening sequence is the best in the franchise, the rest are filled with high octane chases through cities where it feels like we are watching stakes on the line.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings on the simpler side, with most of the film being set in London which shows how personal this has become against M. when we hit the final act, we do get another unusual location that previous ones haven’t had before.


Scene of the Movie –
Was that meant for me?

That Moment That Annoyed Me Going too personal about James’s past.

Final ThoughtsThis is the most intense Bond film to date, it puts different stakes on the line which is refreshing to see and is easily the one that standouts from the rest in the franchise.

 

Overall: High Octane Action Film.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Crime – G – The Gunman (2015)

Director: Pierre Morel

Writer: Don MacPherson, Peter Travis, Sean Penn (Screenplay) Jean-Patrick Manchette (Novel)

Starring: Sean Penn, Jasmine Trinca, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, Idris Elba

 

Plot: A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier’s successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself.


Tagline – Guard the truth.

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Lacklustre

 

Story: The Gunman starts as we meet Terrier (Penn) a mercenary whose cover as a humanitarian working in Congo who assignment was to kill the new minster of mining whose new policy could bring the country to its knees again. With the mission being a success, Terrier is forced to flee the country for his own safety. Years past and Terrier believes he is being followed and turns to his old friends who worked on that last mission, Stanley (Winstone), Terrance (Rylance) and Felix (Bardem) to see if anyone leaked the information about the hit.

Not knowing who to trust Terrier must race against tie to figure out the truth with his own life and loved ones lives on the line as the past continues to come back and haunt him.

 

Thoughts on The Gunman

 

Characters – Terrier is a sniper mercenary who poses as a humanitarian, he knows how to make connections and uses them to complete jobs, though his latest job turns out to be his last as he goes into hiding. Learning his life is in danger he goes in search for answers about who is after him, giving him a chance to see his love once again. Annie is the woman that Terrier must leave when he goes into hiding, the woman he loved, she has moved on though she still does love Terrier even after all these years. Felix is one of the connections from the job, he had always been jealous of the relationship Terrier and Annie had, leaving him to make his move once Terrier is out of the picture. Stanley is the connection in London that is a good friend that will help out where needed. Terrance is the one of the group which continued his success and knows who is still in the loop.

PerformancesWhen it comes to performances we need to face the reality that Sean Penn is trying his luck at the Liam Neeson style of action film, he just doesn’t have the same levels of action in him and for the most part he doesn’t do anything to make us truly care about his character. When we look at the supporting cast on the male side we get four big-names we know do solid enough supporting roles, while Jasmine Trinca is solid enough as the love interest for Terrier.

StoryThe story follows a mercenary that finds his previous job exposed to the people it has effective, but soon needs to learn who released the information. The was sold to be a fast paced action thriller, though the story is slow burning political thriller which focuses on the ideas that have been put forward when the rich try to control countries for their own means. The slow pace takes us out of the story because things just become boring for the most part.

Action/CrimeFor an action film we get the very basic levels of shooting and combat which are covering up the bigger crime going on between the men.

SettingsThe film takes us from growing African country that the Europeans and Americans are looking to take advantage off, to Europe as we get the locations that are designed to show us the hiding places are in every city.

Special EffectsThe effects come from how the wounds look and that is about it, for the most part they are the strongest part of the film.


Scene of the Movie –
Sniper time.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The pacing.

Final ThoughtsThis is a slow burning action crime thriller that lacks any tension, suspicious about who the villain is and ends up playing out like a paint by numbers cliché.

 

Overall: Cliched and boring.

Rating

 

 

World Cinema – The Sea Inside (2004)

Director: Alejandro Amenabar

Writer: Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil (Screenplay)

Starring: Javier Bardem, Belen Rueda, Lola Duenas, Mabel Rivera, Celso Bugallo, Clara Segura

 

Plot: The factual story of Spaniard Ramon Sampedro, who fought a thirty-year campaign in favor of euthanasia and his own right to die.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Amazingly Inspiring True Story

 

Story: The Sea Inside starts as we meet Ramon Sampedro (Bardem) a quadriplegic who has been campaign to have the opportunity to be euthanised to end his years of suffering. He lives with his brother’s Jose (Bugallo) Manuela (Rivera) and Javi (Novas) family who take care of him. His latest campaign is to hire Julia (Rueda) a lawyer to fight in his corner as she is also suffering from her own degenerate disease.

While Ramon clashes with his own family about his request he finds friendship in local single mother Rosa (Duenas) as Ramon’s story starts to inspire the people of Spain to make more of their own lives while they still have time and the ability too.

 

Thoughts on The Sea Inside

 

Characters/PerformanceRamon is a man that has lived the second half of his life as quadriplegic after an accident, he wants to die but must fight for the right to do so, he always has a smile on his face and inspires others to achieve so much more in their life. Julia is a lawyer that also fights for the right to die as she also has a degenerative disease. We also have Rosa who is a single mother that finds inspiration in a relationship with Ramon.

Performance wise, Javier Bardem is fantastic and you can see just why he gets all the praise for this performance, Rueda and Duenas both are also brilliant in their supporting roles.

StoryThe story isn’t all court case and medical drama which it could have easily been. Instead we learn about Ramon’s reasons to want to die, he also gets to see what he thinks would be to escape if he could continue to be mobile. The idea that he gets to help people also helps because it shows how even when you think your life is over you can help other people. This story is something people should enjoy.

Biographical/RomanceLooking at how Ramon was fighting for the right to die comes through so well, we also get to see how he holds back from true love even if people can fall in love with you.

SettingsHaving the trapped room Ramon finds himself in shows us just how helpless he feels in his life, anything outside the room doesn’t include the Ramon character which in places takes out of the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most beautiful and tragic stories you could see with stunning performances, that gives us the moral question about what we would do.

 

Overall: This is a must watch.

Rating

 

 

Mother! (2017)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Writer: Darren Aronofsky (Screenplay)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brain Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson

 

Plot: A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.


Tagline – seeing is believing

Runtime: 2 Hours 1 Minute

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Too Artsy

 

Story: Mother starts as our leading lady (Lawrence) known as Mother (No characters have names) awakens giving us a tour of her beautiful home with husband Him (Bardem) a writer. The couple peace is interrupted by Man (Harris) who visits the couple and the next day his wife Woman (Pfeiffer) arrives.

As Mother becomes irritated by the visitors as people continue to turn up and she questions the love her husband has for her before things escalate into something you don’t see coming.

 

Thoughts on Mother

 

Characters – Mother is the character we follow around for the whole film, we see how she sees things unfolding in the house as the guest continue to arrive while she tries to regain the attention of her husband, she does come off whiny at times though. Him is the husband and writer, he always seems very opening to guest and has an ore about him. Man is the first visitor that comes uninvited to the home, he gets welcomed in and we learn part of his life through the part along with his wife Woman who challenge Mother’s belief.

PerformancesJennifer Lawrence is fine in the leading role but this won’t go down as her best as I found her slightly annoying after a while. Javier Bardem does have a mystery about the character he is playing. We do have solid performance from all the characters through the film.

StoryThe story can easily be looked at as a biblical concept with what happens following our leading lady Mother dealing with the problem visitors. The problem is this is a story that you would need to understand elements of the bible, the other problems come where the certain things get hinted at but don’t seem to follow through with and you would need a lot of patience to get through this film.

Horror/Mystery/ThrillerThe horror elements of the film are poor because nothing seems to come from any hints, the mystery is the highlight of the film because you want to know just what the hell is happening. The film does try to keep you on edge from start to finish.

SettingsThe whole film does take place in the home of the couple as they get visitors which dives into chaos.

Special EffectsThe effects are good through the film without being ground breaking but do fall into the director’s trait.


Scene of the Movie –
The single take in the chaos.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Mother character gets annoying quickly.

Final ThoughtsIn the end I didn’t enjoy this film, it feels very long and difficult to describe, it has plenty of tension but things start going nowhere.

 

Overall: Too much going on through the film.

Rating

 

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017)

Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen Sandberg

Writer: Jeff Nathanson (Screenplay) Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert (Characters)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Geoffrey Rush, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Kevin McNally, Orland Bloom, Keira Knightley

 

Plot: Captain Jack Sparrow searches for the trident of Poseidon.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Better Than Expected

 

Story: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge starts as a young Henry Turner visiting and promising to break the curse on his father Will Turner (Bloom) against his father’s wishes because it means finding Jack Sparrow (Depp).

Move forward nine years and Henry (Thwaites) in part of the British Navy hunting down pirates in search of Jack Sparrow, when his ship heads into the Devil’s Triangle they find themselves attacked by the ghost Captain Salazar (Bardem), a man in search for Jack Sparrow who cursed his crew.

Finding himself locked up, Henry learns he is on the same island as Jack Sparrow and sets out on finding him as well as an astronomer Carina (Scodelario) who gets treated like a witch because of knowledge. The three team up with Jack’s crew to search for Poseidon’s Trident the one object that can break all curses in the ocean.

With Captain Salazar terrorising the ocean he joins the current ruler of the ocean Captain Barbossa (Rush) in the hunt for Jack as the pirates do battle to break the curses over the ocean.

 

Thoughts on Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

 

Characters/PerformanceCaptain Jack is back, but this time we get a mix of what we expect from the style of the character at times being fun and over times feeling like a parody of himself. Captain Salazar is a good additional villain to this franchise because he was once a man doing the right thing but now hunts the seas for any victim. Captain Barbossa does have the best story arc in this film as we see how he has become the wealthiest pirate at sea and always stays one step ahead of everyone else. Henry is good for this film because it brings us back into the original characters origins learning about Will Turner and now his son, even if the character feels just like a copy of his father, Carina is written to be a strong independent woman in the time of the film which she is but she does also turn into the normal damsel in distress when it comes to conflict moments.

Performance Wise, Johnny Depp does feel like he is doing what you expect but does have moments of parody. Javier Bardem is good and enjoys the villainous role. Rush continues to be good without excelling, Brenton and Kaya are good addition but they do feel like they were just creating a new version of Bloom of Knightley.

StoryOne of the strongest points of any pirates movie is being able to tell us a continuing story, Black Pearl entered us into this world very nicely and the next two chapters continued the story along building on the characters legacy, when it came to Stranger Tides things went off the rails and the film came off boring. This story brings us back to the original arcs and continues to build on them like we enjoy seeing. This isn’t the overall best but it certainly isn’t the worst of the Pirates films and if you enjoyed the stories in the first couple you will enjoy this one.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is all fun, we get a couple of rip off ideas from bigger action franchises, most notable the bank heist, the sword fighting is fine but does become inconstant by the end of the film as ghosts can’t have sword fights. the adventure is the highlight here because this time you do feel like you are back where you want to be. The fantasy side of the film continues on nicely as we dive into the myths of the ocean.

SettingsEach setting looks perfect for a pirates film as we can continue to enjoy the visual experience of a pirates movie.

Special EffectsThe special effects are good, I did like how the deliberate slow flow of Salazar’s hair almost becomes a characteristic of its own too.

Final ThoughtsSure this film will get slammed but it doesn’t need to be, if you just go in look for some fun you will find yourself enjoying this one enough.

 

Overall: Sit back, switch your brain of and enjoy.

Rating