The Captor (2019)

Director: Robert Budreau

Writer: Robert Budreau (Screenplay)

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Noomi Rapace, Mark Strong, Christopher Heyerdahl, Bea Santos, Mark Rendall, Ian Matthews

 

Plot: Based on the absurd but true 1973 bank heist and hostage crisis in Stockholm that was documented in the New Yorker as the origins of the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’.


Tagline – Based on an Absurd but True Story

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hawke is a Blast

 

Story: The Captor starts when American Kaj Hansson (Hawke) walks into a bank taking hostages in bank clerks Bianca Lind (Rapace) and Klara Mardh (Santos), he wants Gunnar Sorensson (Strong) released from prison along with his outlandish demands that Chief Mattsson (Heyerdahl) must try to put together.

As the hostage situation continue we start to see the truth unravel and see how Bianca starts to respect Kaj even feeling like she is part of the heist herself, can they make it out of the heist as the origin of the term ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ is born here.

 

Thoughts on The Captor

 

Characters – Kaj Hansson is the American that has walked into the bank, he doesn’t really have a plan, he knows what he wants though, he wants to be fair to his hostages, never actually wanting to hurt anybody, just to make sure the police see him as a threat. He starts to make friends with the hostages too. Bianca Lind is the bank clerk that has her own family and finds herself being held hostage, she becomes the stronger of the two women, she starts to become attracted to Kaj believing he isn’t a bad guy, this is her story. Gunnar Sorensson is the man that Kaj wants released from prison, he is one of the most famous bank robbers in the country and he sees the mistakes that Kaj is making, while having a deal with the Chief. Chief Mattsson is the man trying to end the situation, he is trying to stay one step ahead of Kaj to get everyone out alive.

PerformancesEthan Hawke is a delight to watch in this film, he plays the over the top which sums up what the character needs to be through this film. Noomi Rapace plays her role well giving us a character which is both interested and scared through the film. Mark Strong is the supporting acting for a generation, he brings his complex character to life with ease once again. Christopher Heyerdahl is strong through the film showing a determined, though calm man through the film.

StoryThe story here follows a bank heist which led to the first case of Stockholm Syndrome, where the hostage falls in love with the hostage taker, we see how this hostage situation unfolds with the outlandish demands as the woman starts to fall for him. When it comes to bank heist movies, we have seen plenty, they usually revolve around the criminals and the police trying to stay ahead of each other, with this one we do have that, but we have the added dynamic of seeing how the hostages and takers start to bond when they see that everything can be kept under control, remember this is set in 1973 so the technology isn’t going to be a game changer in how everything is solved. Seeing both sides get to the talking can go through moments of slow story telling, but it isn’t long until Kaj goes a little bit crazy demanding our attention once again. With a subplot involving Gunnar’s position in the situation, we get to see how Kaj really doesn’t know what he is doing making it easier to help the hostages take sympathy with him. It was nice to have just normal police that aren’t looking to solve a personal problem with this case, which is so often the case in these stories.

Comedy/CrimeThe comedy in the film comes from everything Kaj seems to do, from his outfit with wig, cowboy hat and American swagger, to how he overreacts to everything that is going on, the crime is loosely based on a real incident, with the names changed, it is a hostage situation, but you never feel like there is a threat.

SettingsMost of the film is set within the walls of the bank, it is a simple and well craft set that shows us just how the people have been thrown together in this situation.


Scene of the Movie –
Kaj shares a pear.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We don’t feel like there is a threat in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a different way to tell a heist movie, it does show us how hostages can fall in love with their captors and overtime even support them, we get the routine hostage talks and end up right where we need to for the story to flow with ease.

 

Overall: Nice spin on the heist genre.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Biopic – Y – The Young Victoria (2009)

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Writer: Julian Fellowes (Screenplay)

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent, Thomas Kretschmann, Mark Strong

 

Plot: A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria’s rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.


Tagline – She was the queen of an empire, but her heart belonged to one man.

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Beautiful Biopic

 

Story: The Young Victoria starts as young Victoria (Blunt) has been guarded from the world, knowing she will be next in line for the throne, Sir John Conroy (Strong) has been trying to get her to sign a regency order, meaning he would become king until she came of age, only for Victoria to refuse. We follow her 17th year as she starts meeting suiters for her husband, Belgium’s Prince Albert (Friend) being the prime candidate.

When King William (Broadbent) dies, it places Victoria in the position of Queen of England, Lord Melbourne (Bettany) must try to guide her in the decisions that she may face, while Victoria and Albert stay in contact through letters, that shares their love.

 

Thoughts on The Young Victoria

 

Characters – Victoria was raised to become Queen one day, forced to follow strict rules including walking down stairs holding somebody’s hand and sharing a bedroom with her mother. She is always under pressure about signing a regency, only to refuse because she knows that one day she will become Queen, she wants to make her rule, her own, which sees her wanting to pick her love, instead of following the rules the rest are trying to place for her. Prince Albert is the son of King Leopold of Belgium, the two fall in love and know that their union will keep the countries together stronger. Lord Melbourne is the advisor to Victoria, he has his own agenda which he wants to put into place, making him a danger figure in her connection to the common people of England. The Duchess of Kent is the mother of Victoria, who has been following the rules to protect her daughter and stuck following whatever John Conroy says.

PerformancesEmily Blunt shines in this leading role as the young Victoria, she brings the grace and determination to change the country through with her performance which you could believe the real Victoria doing to Britain. Rupert Friend as Prince Albert is wonderful too as he shows us the one person that would truly stand up against the Queen as many others would be in fear of her. Paul Bettany and Miranda Richardson round off the main cast as they both are great in their roles through the film.

StoryThe story follows the firs year that Queen Victoria was on the throne, we see how she had to learn quickly with how the politicians would try to sway her, meet a husband and try to help sort out a country with big divides between the upper class and the lower class. We see that even at a young age she was able to make these decisions to bring Britain forward and mark herself down as one of the most important leaders the nation ever saw. After becoming a fan of The Crown this was an easy story to step into as smaller moments made sense, if you don’t know certain historic rules the Queen must follow, you might not get why certain scenes in the film happen.

Biopic/History/RomanceThis movie shows us how important Queen Victoria’s reign was, we might only follow around a year, but she wanted to start making changes early on which will later become her legacy, the romance that she goes through shows how the Albert came into her life and showed her, they could rule together if they challenged the rules they believed to be wrong.

SettingsEach setting used in this film feels like the true settings we would see the royals living in, each one shows just how they could be living in the upper class, with the set design showing the beauty within the buildings.


Scene of the Movie –
The ride around town which changed everything.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We do have certain rules that never get explained, which people might not understand.

Final ThoughtsThis is a beautifully shot biopic that shows us the first year’s reign of Queen Victoria, the difficulties she faced and how she overcame them all.

 

Overall: Must watch historical drama.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Action – R – RocknRolla (2008)

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie (Screenplay)

Starring: Gerard Butler, Tom Wilkinson, Thandie Newton, Mark Strong, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Karel Roden, Toby Kebbell

 

Plot: Lenny Cole, a London mob boss, puts the bite on all local real estate transactions. For substantial fees, he’s helping Uri Omovich, a Russian developer. As a sign of good faith, Omovich loans Cole a valuable painting, promptly stolen off Cole’s wall. While Cole’s men, led by the dependable Archie, look for the canvas, three local petty criminals, the Wild Bunch, steal money from the Russian using inside information from his accountant, the lovely Stella. Meanwhile, a local drug-addled rocker, Johnny Quid, is reported drowned, and his connection to Cole is the key to unraveling the deceits and double crosses of life in the underworld.


Tagline – A story of sex, thugs and rock ‘n roll.

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over Saturated Film

 

Story: RocknRolla starts when One Two (Butler) and Mumbles (Elba) learn the hard way how London mobster Lenny Cole (Wilkinson) operates, needing to collect a large amount of money. Lenny is in the middle of a big deal with a Russian Uri Omovich (Roden) that would be the biggest of his career.

When a piece of art gets stolen Lenny is put under pressure to return the art work to Uri, he turns to his right-hand man Archy (Strong) to get it back, turning to One Two for help as we see how the underworld coming together to get one up on each other.

 

Thoughts on RocknRolla

 

Characters – One Two is the leader of the Wild Bunch, he gets left owing a lot of money within the month and it soon becomes his connections that help with the mystery about where a painting is hiding as he plans to solve his own problems. Mumbles is the best friend in the Wild Bunch, he is the one that One Two turns to for advice through the problems. Lenny Cole is the mobster that runs London, he has everyone in his pocket to get what he wants, with his greed taking over when he can have a deal with a billionaire Russian, though his past could cause the trouble in this deal. Stella is the accountant that has each party doing her dealings, she knows how to have each side in the palm of her hands. Archy is the one telling the story, he has the right-hand man for Lenny and the go between all the different sides of the underworld. In this film we do get too many characters with so many different arcs going on through the film.

PerformancesThe acting in this film is good from the whole cast, we have a large cast which does hinder them from getting a true star turn in this film. Butler, Wilkinson, Newton, Strong, Elba, Hardy all show how they can become good at making moments of impact in shorter scenes.

StoryThe story here follows three levels of mobsters as they deal with a deal gone bad as they are trying to stay ahead of each other, in typical Ritchie storytelling we get thrown all over the place with the story telling and miss the most interesting action aspects of the film. when it comes to the criminal underworld side of the story, we don’t get anything new with generic characters who just go through the emotions that don’t always make us enjoy the characters we are enjoy watching.

Action/CrimeThe action is disappointing because we have scenes which should be good, only Ritchie’s style of shooting chops too much hiding the best parts. The crime world created is good because we see just how many different levels of the crime world we are entering.

SettingsThe film is set in London which is good for the film because if these type of deals are happening it would need to be in a busy city location like London.


Scene of the Movie –
Sporting goods fight.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The action editing.

Final ThoughtsThis is your typical British gangster film, it has its own flair which can help and hinder the film at times, we have too many characters to stay on top of which only disappoints with the storytelling process.

 

Overall: Typical mobster movie.

Rating

 

 

Shazam! (2019)

Director: David F Sandberg

Writer: Henry Gayden, Darren Lemke (Screenplay) Bill Parker, C.C. Beck (Creators)

Starring: Zachary Levi, Djimon Hounsou, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Grazer, Asher Angel

 

Plot: We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s case, by shouting out one word – SHAZAM! – this streetwise fourteen-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult superhero Shazam.


Tagline – If you want to save the world, say the magic word.

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Tonally Messy

 

Story: Shazam! Starts when teenage runaway Billy Batson (Angel) gets sent to the latest foster home after being caught searching for his mother, Billy must share a room with Freddy (Grazer) who is a comic book enthusiast. When Billy is select as the latest candidate by a Wizard (Hounsou) he is given the power to become Shazam! (Levi) a superhero.

Billy must turn to Freddy for help to understand these new powers which he uses for fun, until Dr Thaddeus Sivana (Strong) comes looking for the power after he was a rejected candidate because he was drawn to the evil within the lair. Billy must learn his powers to stop Thaddeus from bringing chaos to the world.

 

Thoughts on Shazam!

 

Characters – Shazam is the superhero version of Billy, this plays out like any teenage who would become a teenager, be it buying alcohol, skipping school or visiting a strip club, he is immature just like you would imagine and must learn to control his powers to fight Thaddeus, he is meant to be an icon for good. Dr Thaddeus Sivana was once a candidate to be given the power of Shazam, but he was drawn to the evil, banished from the lair, he has dedicated his life to searching for the truth which he unlocks the evil of the seven deadly sins. Billy is a runaway teenager, he is in search for his mother, he doesn’t like the foster system, but this new family give him a chance, he continues in his rebellious ways until he is given the power of Shazam which lets him learn the true meaning of family. Freddy is the roommate and superhero expect that is help Billy understand his new powers, he would love to be in his position because he gets constantly bullied at school.

PerformancesZachary Levi in the Shazam might well look the part, but due to him complete difference to character to Billy it is hard to take him seriously in this role. Mark Strong is as I have always said, an easy to pick villain that never lets you down. Jack Dylan Grazer brings plenty of enthusiasm to his role, while Asher Angel does his best mood teen impression.

StoryThe story shows us how a foster child is given unlimited power by a wizard who needs somebody to take over the guardian role to protect the realms from evil, only the evil is out and the foster kid is the last resort to stop this evil. It would be fair to say this is a tonally confusing story, we have a villain that is very dark and could easily be just another figure from later Harry Potter story, he has the deadly sins which are monsters that are trying to scare children, only for some reason they don’t, we have a reluctant hero who would rather make money of his need alter ego than help people. The problems do mount up quickly here as Billy and Shazam do feel like very different characters and it feels like Shazam is just Zachary Levi doing his funny man routine, over the idea of him being a version of Billy suddenly grown up. The villain is the best part of the film, he is going to step into fights before anybody else not needing anyone to help him. The story does try to bring us some heart with the ideas of just where Billy is in his life, between searching for somebody that left him or accept a family that wants him.

Action/Fantasy/Sci-FiThe action is mostly silly over the top action we know DC tends to do, we have destruction of windows, fight scenes that just have people crashing through stuff along with some flying. The fantasy side of the film shows us just how the magic world can produce good and evil depending on which side of you soul you let think for you. The sci-fi element of the film comes from the idea of a new superhero being inside a teenage boy.

SettingsThe settings in the film mostly use Philadelphia as the main setting, we haven’t really seen a comic book movie set in this location before.

Special EffectsThe effects are a real mixed bag, the creature designs look brilliant no question, but certain flying scenes look like they came from an 80’s Superman movie.


Scene of the Movie –
Unlocking the true power.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Shazam didn’t feel like an adult version of Billy.

Final ThoughtsThis is a silly superhero movie, it gets the tone wrong by having a villain that is way to dark and a hero that is just too playful.

 

Overall: Just another DC miss.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – C – Closer to the Moon (2014)

Director: Nae Caranfil

Writer: Nae Caranfil (Screenplay)

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong, Harry Lloyd, Anton Lesser, Andrew Buckley, Joe Armstrong

 

Plot: A Romanian police officer teams up with a small crew of old friends from the World War II Jewish Resistance to pull off a heist by convincing everyone at the scene of the crime that they are only filming a movie.

 

Runtime: 1 Hour 52 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Quirky Comedy

 

Story: Closer to the Moon starts as young man Virgil (Lloyd) sees a bank robbery being filmed, only it was a real robbery, stumbling into the world of film Lloyd becomes a natural behind the camera and is hired to work with the robbers to tell the story of these once heroes of the Jewish Resistance in World War II and why they turned to a life of crime.

The crew are led by Max (Strong) works to produce the film about the robbery, which is used to try and explain just what the motivation behind his crime, poor Virgil ends up in the middle of the authorities wanting the truth and the criminals looking for an escape.

 

Thoughts on Closer to the Moon

 

Characters – Max is the leader of the Jewish Resistance group from the war, he is now high up in the police only to turn his back on the law for a robbery. He is sentenced to death but before he is executed he must help create a propaganda film about what will happen if you commit crime. Alice is the only lady on the crew, she has a history which shouldn’t put her near this world Alice fills in most of the gaps in the story for Virgil. Virgil is the young man inspired to became involved in film after witnessing the robbery, he ends up being the cameraman on the film about the robbery finding himself caught in the middle of everything.

PerformancesMark Strong and Vera Farmiga are great actors and this film shows them at their best without being the most memorable, they enjoy the comedy side of the story while playing the powerful side needed. Harry Lloyd is the new coming to the film and he is good through the film too.

StoryThe story looks at how different countries with communist beliefs behind how things are run and how the people were wanting to be against the controlling system would go about changing things. While this does look at how a heist could get out of control and covered up to be what the government want to see happen with the story. in the end we do try to have too much balanced here, so we lose focus at times to where the film wants to story to be told though.

ComedyThis is mostly quirky comedy, it hits more often than it misses but doesn’t do enough to make everything memorable.

SettingsThe film is set in Romania which is meant to show how the different sides came together to make this event happen with post world war II rules.


Scene of the Movie –
The heist is fun to watch.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We jump between the characters too often to understand who the lead is meant to be.

Final ThoughtsThis is an interesting comedy drama, it tells an interesting story as it focuses on wanting to be remembered more than anything else.

 

Overall: One for the comedy fans to try.

Rating