James Bond Month – Casino Royale (2006)

Director: Martin Campbell

Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (Screenplay) Ian Fleming (Novel)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian

 

Plot: Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.


Tagline – The new Bond. Living for Love. Dying for Thrills.

Runtime: 2 Hours 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mission Impossible Bond Edition

 

Story: Casino Royale starts with James Bond (Craig) going on hi very first mission as the 007 which sees him look to track down a bomb making that is being financed by an unknown terrorist, James builds his own style which M (Dench) doesn’t agree with, though she does reluctantly leave him in the field to search for the banker, Le Chiffre (Mikkelsen).

James must work with Vesper Lynd (Green) to get close to Le Chiffre, in a hope to get information about the people he works with, James goes undercover in a mega stakes poker game in Montenegro.

 

Thoughts on Casino Royale

 

Characters – James Bond is back, only this time it is the first mission, he isn’t like the previous 00’s being more reckless than they are used to seeing, he must use his poker skills to take down a dangerous banker that is working with terrorists and learn the his ego can’t get in the way of his mission. This is the biggest lesson he will need to learn as a 00. Vesper Lynd is the British agent that is working with James, she decides whether he is allowed to spend more money, almost keeping on an eye on him for M. Le Chiffre is the banker for terrorists, he plays the stock market on their actions making him one of the most powerful men in the world, his weakness is that he likes to play poker at the high stakes end. M picks the agents, she has put James in the field and now she is left to decide whether she has made the right decision.

PerformancesDaniel Craig does brings us an entertaining tough agent character, though he never feels like he is James Bond, yes it is his first mission, but this performance could easily have been an original agent figure. Eva Green while looks beautiful doesn’t get the full Bond girl treatment and doesn’t get to make the biggest impact in the film. Mads Mikkelsen is a great villain, but he is easy to place in any film as the villain. Judi Dench continued to make a big impact in the Bond franchise with his being her best outing to date.

StoryThe story here follows James Bond going on his first mission for MI6, one which will see his skills at a poker table being used to get close a mastermind banker for terrorists. The story here is an interesting spin on the Bond franchise because we have always seen James as an established agent, seeing his first mission unfolding, shows us his imperfections as an agent, this is the biggest strength. The basics of getting close to the villain is one we have always seen and understand works for the franchise. It is when the story decides to become more like a Mission Impossible story than a Bond story which can take us away from the story. the poker scenes are also very difficult to watch because they just never come off as believable.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film is amongst the best in the franchise, we have stunt based action too with one of the most memorable sequences coming from the opening of the film. the adventure side of the film takes James around the world in his hunt for Le Chiffre.

SettingsThe film uses a few main settings, we get the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro and Venice as our world tour.


Scene of the Movie –
opening chase sequences.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The opening credits are awful.

Final ThoughtsThis is a new start for the Bond franchise, it does go in a different direction, only it does feel like it just wants to become the British version of the more aggressive spy movies like Mission Impossible and Jason Bourne.

 

Overall: Bond only more serious.

Rating

 

 

Polar (2019)

Director: Jonas Akerlund

Writer: Jayson Rothwell (Screenplay) Victor Santos (Graphic Novel)

Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Vanessa Hudgens, Katheryn Winnick, Fei Ren, Ruby O Fee, Matt Lucas, Robertt Maillet

 

Plot: The world’s top assassin, Duncan Vizla, is settling into retirement when his former employer marks him as a liability to the firm. Against his will, he finds himself back in the game going head to head with an army of younger killers.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Bloody Filled Action

 

Story: Polar starts when Duncan Vizla (Mikkelsen) a deadly assassin, is reaching retirement age, at 50, he has saved his money and is embracing retirement, only with two weeks before he is due to retire, he gets an offer to complete a new assignment from Vivian (Winnick).

The boss Blut (Lucas) doesn’t want to let his former employees retire, as he is looking to eliminate them claiming back their retirement funds, he sends he best team to kill Duncan, with Hilde (Ren), Sindy (Fee), Karl (Maillet), Facundo (Grant) and Alexei (Cruddas) trying to put the old guard down.

 

Thoughts on Polar

 

Characters – Duncan Vizla is known as the deadliest assassin in his field, he is reaching the age of retirement in this field though, he has been putting his affairs in order ready for the next stage of his life. He must fight the next generation of assassins who are been sent to kill him, using all his knowledge he will take the head of anyone who gets in his way and protecting his neighbour too. Camille is the neighbour that has been through a traumatic experience which sees her being extra jumpy when it comes to loud noises, she befriends Duncan, only to find herself in the middle of the warring assassins. Blut is the owner of the assassin business, he assigns the jobs and decides that after 50 they are no longer required, he has financial gain from this decision and takes great pleasure in hurting people. Vivian is the connection between Blut and Duncan, she doesn’t want to be put in the position on crossing Duncan, only to find herself right there needing to finish the job off.

PerformancesMads Mikkelsen in the leading role is fantastic as we see him feeling like he doesn’t want to be part of the world, living in the shadows, remembering the jobs he has completed. You see all this in his feelings through his limit lines in the movie as the cold-hearted assassin. Vanessa Hudgens is the weakest of the main four, but mostly because of her characters limited involvement in the film. Matt Lucas surprises us here by being the psychopathic leader of the assassins that is over the top which is required through the film. Kathryn Winnick seems to enjoy playing the villainous leading lady filled with the seductive side to her actions. We try do see the rest of the assassins trying to make the most of their time, which is solid enough without being anything great.

StoryThe story here is adapted from a graphic novel, so first we need to know everything will be over the top, which is important to prepare yourself for. When we look at the story, we get one that we have seen before, one that works, an aging assassin becoming the target by their employees who want to eliminate them from the world, leading them to take a stand, facing waves of assassins. As we said this is a formula that works and this is no different, it keeps everything simple, flashy version of it that oozes with its own style that will keep the action fans happy without turning to twist central.

Action/CrimeThe action in this film is big, loud and bloody, we get plenty of moments that could see people looking away at the level of violence being shown here.

SettingsThe settings of the film show where the assassins would be going from the world as they look to stay out of notice as well as showing us the flashy mansion the leader would be happy to live in.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film show us just how violent the action can become as we see and feel a lot of the brutality we see in this film.


Scene of the Movie –
One versus the room, hands up.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The flashback scenes are annoying.

Final ThoughtsThis is a bloody brutal action movie, that does feel like it has been ripped form the pages of the graphic novel and isn’t afraid to hold back.

 

Overall: Bloody and Brutal

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – N – The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)

Director: Fredrik Bond

Writer: Matt Drake (Screenplay)

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Evan Rachel Wood, Mads Mikkelsen, Til Schweiger, Rupert Grint, James Buckley

 

Plot: While traveling abroad, a guy falls for a Romanian beauty whose unreachable heart has its origins in her violent, charismatic ex.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Standard Story

 

Story: The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman starts as Charlie (LaBeouf) deals with his mother’s death which pushes him to take a trip to Romania, an idea that the ghost of his mother suggests. On route the Romanian passenger Victor (Caramitru) dies giving Charlie a reason to find his daughter Gabi (Wood).

Charlie meets to Brits Karl (Grint) and Luc (Buckley) who show him how to party in the hostel but the danger comes from Gabi’s estranged husband Nigel (Mikkelsen) a dangerous man in the city. Charlie finds himself in the middle of the cover up that puts his own life in danger.

 

Thoughts on The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman

 

Characters/PerformanceCharlie is a young man who travels to escape the grieving of his mother’s death, he wants to do the right thing but enjoys partying to, it would be fair to say his true motivations and character are never fully shown though. Gabi is the local Romanian girl that catches Charlie’s eye, she is also grieving the death of a parent but her life is a lot more complicated than he can imagine. Nigel is the ex-husband of Gabi that isn’t going to let her go without a fight which brings us to see how dangerous this man could be.

Performance wise, Shia is good in this role, I know people can slam the guy but this works for him. Evan Rachel Wood is also good throughout the film without trying to steal the movie while Mads Mikkelsen is always great in this type of role.

StoryThis story focuses on the one man looking for a moment to get away from his life to grieve, this is all good we have seen this before because it shows how this solo character finds themselves getting into trouble. The idea is basically ABC and it is simple enough to follow.

Comedy/RomanceThe film doesn’t feel too much like of a comedy and the romance side is basically just guy meets girl in new city but girl has background that makes things difficult for them to be together.

SettingsThe setting is good because not many film are set in Romania.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most average films you will see, there are better and worse that cover the same genre.

 

Overall: Not that impressive.

Rating

 

 

Rogue One (2016)

rogueDirector: Gareth Edwards

Writer: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy (Screenplay) John Knoll, Gary Whitta (Story)

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen

 

Plot: The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Franchise Filling

 

Story: Rogue One starts Galen Erso (Mikkelsen) and his family hiding on a planet from the Empire with Orson Krennic (Mendelsohn) hunting them down. Jyn (Jones) rescued by Saw Gerrera (Whitaker) grows up to be captured by the imperial guards.

With Jyn broken out of an Imperial labour prison by the rebels who want to use her to find her father who could be working on the Deathstar. Cassian Andor (Luna) is leading an attempt to stop the final preparation of the Deathstar with the connection with Saw Gerrera being important to finding her father.

What follows is the adventure before the saga begins, as the unlikely rebels must steal the plans for the Deathstar to stop the empire from rising to complete power in the universe.

 

Thoughts on Rogue One

 

StoryThis is the prequel to the loved trilogy that is actually a sequel to the disliked trilogy. We only get a snippet into the world of Star Wars with mentions of the force but nothing much going on around the force which is a good plus. This is does feel like a darker story to anything we have seen before with it feeling like a gritter side to the battle rather than the lightsabre action we are used too. Now I don’t want to be a negative person but if this was the first story in the saga I feel it wouldn’t be up to scratch with where the franchise goes, but if this was just a standalone space film it would feel empty of the final impact needed.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action is all grand and what you would expect from the Star Wars universe with the adventure being something we are also used to seeing. The sci-fi world is all fine even though the film tries hard to stay serious and down to Earth throughout.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters do all feel like they are from the middle of a rebel fight all coming from different worlds to fight which is all good, the lead character Jyn well she is strong but she is no Rey so don’t go in there expecting a character that strong. The most annoying character to me was voiced brilliantly so nothing against Alan Tudyk but the robot character felt like it had been stolen from Interstellar’s Tars.  When it comes to the performances everyone does a good job throughout so I can’t complain or criticise them in anyway.

SettingsThe settings do all feel gritter making us feel like we are in the war without the force powers going on later in the saga but we do have too many planets to keep on top of which are relevant to later chapters in the story.

Special EffectsYou can’t fault any of the special effects because it is all brilliant like you would expect from a film of this reputation.

Final ThoughtsStretching the universe once more filling in the gaps that didn’t need filling to cover up the wait until the next chapter in the main saga. This is an easy watch but in the end, will struggle to make the top 3 of any Star Wars fans list.

 

Overall: Franchise filler that didn’t need to be made that doesn’t capture the spirit of this franchise.

Ratingcard

 

 

Milla Jovovich Weekend – The Three Musketeers (2011)

threeeDirector: Paul W S Anderson

Writer: Alex Litvak (Screenplay) Alexandra Dumas Pere (Novel)

Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, Milla Jovovich, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Til Schweiger, Orlando Bloom, Logan Lerman, Mads Mikkelsen, Christoph Waltz

 

Plot: The hot-headed young D’Artagnan along with three former legendary but now down on their luck Musketeers must unite and defeat a beautiful double agent and her villainous employer from seizing the French throne and engulfing Europe in war.

 

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Forgettable

 

Story: The Three Musketeers starts by introducing us to the legendary Three Musketeer Athos (Macfadyen), Aramis (Evans) and Porthos (Stevenson) who work with Milady de Winter (Jovovich) to steal documents only to have her turn on them for the Duke of Buckingham (Bloom).

We go onto meet D’Artagnan (Lerman) a brass young swordsman who finds himself in trouble with the Three Musketeer, but with a common enemy in Rochefort (Mikkelsen) after they have lost their guidance. The Musketeers find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy to start the next great battle in Europe and have to use their skills to stop this from happening and save France.

The Three Musketeers is an overcomplicated take on what should just be a fun adventure, we have a big conspiracy going on with way too many characters to keep on top off where we just don’t get nearly enough time with the actual musketeers. Everyone seems to be going against each other in this one which just doesn’t reach any of the level of the 90s version.

As for the performances, the musketeers are nearly all forgettable, Waltz, Mikkelsen and Bloom are completely wasted in their roles and having nearly everything that happens revolve around Jovovich just adds to the confusion. The action is all what you would expect from Anderson that can be fun without being over the top.

 

Overall: This is just another poor rehash of the Musketeers story.

Ratingcard