ABC Film Challenge – Thriller – O – Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

Director: Susanna White

Writer: Hossein Amini (Screenplay) John le Carre (Novel)

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Khalid Abdalla, Mark Gatiss

 

Plot: A couple finds themselves lured into a Russian oligarch’s plans to defect, and are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust.


Tagline – Who can you trust with the truth?

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Basic Crime Thriller

 

Story: Our Kind of Traitor starts when British couple Perry (McGregor) and Gail (Harris) holidaying in Morocco meet Russian Mafia member Dima (Skarsgard) and the two men bond. Dima talks Perry into taking information back to MI6, which opens the door for the secret service agent Hector (Lewis) trying to investigate the information.

Returning with the information, Perry and Gail gets caught up in the middle of both sides even though they want to get on with their own lives, soon it is their lives that are in danger, who will come out on top.

 

Thoughts on Our Kind of Traitor

 

Characters – Perry is a university professor, he is trying to make amends with his wife on a romantic holiday, he reluctantly gets involved in the information trade with his good nature being used by both sides. Gail is the lawyer wife of Perry, she has become distant from him while still loving him and does question his decision to help Dima. Dima is the Russian mafia handling the accounts, but he wants out to help his own children become safe, he uses his connection with Perry to get MI6 involved in the truth. Hector is the MI6 agent that is willing to work with Dima for the information in exchange for the family, he does have his own grudge with the man they are trying to take down too.

PerformancesThe performances through the film show us just what Le Carre does with his characters, he gives them good moments, without making them stand out. McGregor is good, but you feel a younger up and comer would have been perfect here, Harris is good and doesn’t put a foot wrong, while Skarsgard enjoys his role, shady but loyal. Damian Lewis brings back his true English role which at times does feel weird knowing how often he has been an American character recently.

StoryThe story comes from a John Le Carre novel, so instantly we know we are going to get a thriller that keeps us guessing on what everyone’s motivation will be. The idea that a normal couple get mixed up in the middle of an international information exchange is different and does work for the film because it helps us stay on edge thinking and wondering if they do have a bigger involvement. The story does feel like that one moment to make it great is missing, as everything does end up feeling just normal and good only.

CrimeThe crime side of the film follows a criminal looking for a safe way out of the life for his family in exchange for bringing down the mafia’s dealings in London.

SettingsThe film splits the settings between London, for the deals, Morocco for the exchanges and the final location for the next chapter of the lives, they work because they show how this world would operate.


Scene of the Movie –
The escape.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It lacks the edge of your seat style of Le Carre novels have given us.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid thriller even if it lacks that final factor to make it one of the best ones, it does the by the book material well, but never develops the characters enough to understand the situation they put themselves in.

 

Overall: Simple thriller.

Rating

 

 

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ABC Film Challenge – Sci-Fi – # – 28 Days Later (2002) Revisited

Director: Danny Boyle

Writer: Alex Garland (Screenplay)

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston, Brendan Gleeson, Megan Burns, Noah Huntley

 

Plot: Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.


Tagline – The Days Are Numbered

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brilliant Modern Horror

 

Story: 28 Days Later starts in the aftermath of a virus being unleashed, Jim (Murphy) wakes from a coma in a hospital unaware of what has occurred, searching the empty streets of London, it doesn’t take him long to run into an infected member of society, where Selena (Harris) and Mark (Huntley) who explain what has happened to the country.

After an attack by the infected Jim and Selena are left alone searching the streets of London they discover Frank (Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Burns) hidden in an apartment building. Together the four of them target a radio transmission by the military where Major Henry West (Eccleston) answers their calls, but not everything is as it seems from the military outpost.

 

Thoughts on 28 Days Later

 

Characters – Jim is the man waking to the destroyed, infected ruled world, he like us learns the full extent of the damage and as the film rolls on he becomes tougher, prepared to fight back in this world. there isn’t too much more to Jim as a character other than this. Selena is one of the two people that rescue Jim, she is tough as nails, doesn’t blink when it comes to killing the infected be it the long-term infected or the ones that are about to turn. For the first half of the film she is a fantastically strong character being the one of the group you would fear the most, the more she opens up to others in her life and a future other than surviving, the weaker she becomes. Frank is a caring father, he has done everything to protect his daughter during the outbreak, he knows he needs help to get to the rescue point because going along would be too risky with just his daughter. Major West leads the military outpost, he has promised his men salvation, but it isn’t what you would expect it to be, strict leader, his men will follow all his orders.

PerformancesCillian Murphy got his big break after this film, his performances and transformation in his character are brilliant. Naomie Harris comes in here strong from the moment she hits the screen you see just how strong she is going to make her performance. Brendan Gleeson is great in the supporting role, while the same can be said about Eccleston too.

StoryThe story follows a small group of survivors in an infection riddled world as they look for safety. This is generally the purpose of all infected or zombie movies, it keeps things simple and makes the tension rise as we do get a chance to meet and support the group of survivors on their adventure. This is easily one of the more intense stories once everything goes on with the music adding to the final sequence of the movie. The story does have two endings with both being just as strong as the other too depending on how you believe the story should become.

Horror/Sci-FiThe infected bring us the villainous monsters in the film, they are runners, which means they won’t stop till they get you, only hiding or killing them will stop them, the infected are not the only monsters in this film though as we focus on the human affects of the outbreak. The sci-fi side of the film shows us just how quickly the world could change with an outbreak of a virus which turns people into the undead searching for food, in humans.

SettingsThe film is set in London to start with, getting the empty streets is an achievement in itself, the haunting idea of London being abandoned will be one you will remember, the travelling side, well we have seen before with the empty sequences being what makes this film stand out.

Special EffectsThe effects come from the practical world which we like to see because it makes everything feel real to us the audience.


Scene of the Movie –
The mansion final.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I do feel Selena should have stayed stronger through the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the best modern zombie movies, it is intense at times and the visually creation of the world is amazing.

 

Overall: Masterpiece of Modern horror.

Rating

 

 

Rampage (2018)

Director: Brad Peyton

Writer: Ryan Engle, Carlton Cuse, Ryan J Condal, Adam Sztykiel (Screenplay)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomie Harris, Will Yun Malin Akerman, Joe Manganiello

 

Plot: Davis Okoye and his bestfriend white gorilla fight monsters in a big city.


Tagline – Big Meets Bigger

Runtime: 1 Hour 47 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Over the Top Blast

 

Story: Rampage starts as the secret illegal scientific experiment in space goes horrible wrong causing everyone to die and the research samples to come crashing to Earth, Claire Wyden (Akerman) and her brother Brett (Lacy) are rushing to cover up their work.

One of the areas that gets hit by the research is the San Diego zoo where George the albino gorilla gets infected, his handler and best friend Davis Okoye (Johnson) must rush to save him, joined by Dr Kate Caldwell (Harris) a former employee or the Wyden’s. America is struck by panic when George continues to grow, but he is the only animal as the research has infected a wolf and a crocodile or alligator (sorry can never tell them apart and we never get told which it is either), the race is now on to save the world before they destroy everything in their path.

 

Thoughts on Rampage

 

Characters – Davis Okoye is a former marine turn primatologist who works with the gorilla in San Diego Zoo, most notably George one he rescued when he was a baby from poachers. He does like people and isn’t afraid to admit this, he cares for the animals and will never give up on George. Dr Kate Caldwell is first a for most a good character that we could have been given more about, she is a disgraced scientist that once worked for the Wyden’s, she wants nothing more than to bring them down and happily teams up with Davis to bring them down. Claire Wyden along with her brother Brett run the business that the genetic materials come from, she is always one step ahead of the everyone in her attempts to keep her name out of the papers and jail, slightly cartoonish, but it works for this film. Agent Russell is a by the book man, he does the right thing through the film which makes him the important connection for Davis in the government.

PerformancesDwayne Johnson in the leading role gives us everything we want from him, he handles the big action sequences and even manages to hold back on moments of charisma. Naomie Harris as the doctor with a desperate need to see thing stop works well and Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems to have just become Negan forever. Malin Akerman as the main villain is good too because I believe her character is designed to feel like an evil genius and she pulls it off.

StoryThe story, well the question here is, how do you make a story about a video game which follows you just destroying buildings? This story does work something out here, where as other video games have been heavily story based and struggle to make an impact on screen, this film takes the simple idea that giant animals are destroying stuff and makes it an action movie with a race against time. We have the important moments which are dealing with the backgrounds of the characters, most notable Davis and George’s relationship and why Kate did what she did. For the whole film this  movie knows completely what it had and kept it simple, easy to watch and only needed to give us a sprinkle of humour.

Action/Adventure/Sci-FiThe action in the film is massive, its everything you want in a big blockbuster popcorn film, giant animals fighting stuff blowing up and no Michael Bay to be seen. The adventure side of the film comes form the race against time to stop total destruction and the sci-fi side shows us just what could happen if you mess with the wrong genetic in any species.

SettingsThe film uses a couple of iconic settings starting with the zoo in San Diego, we get generic land between before the final showdown in Chicago, this work and shows the panic which could hit America.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are good, we have massive battles that have full destruction going on, leaving you to believe everything, the creatures also look wonderful.


Scene of the Movie –
The final 30 minutes is fantastic popcorn fun.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain characters seem to just disappear.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun action movie, this could easily be up there with the very best video game movies ever made, it is one film you can honestly switch you mind off and enjoy.

 

Overall: Sit back relax and enjoy.

Rating

 

 

Moonlight (2016)

moonDirector: Barry Jenkins

Writer: Barry Jenkins (Screenplay) Tarell Alvin McCraney (Story)

Starring: Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monae, Naomie Harris, Ashton Sanders, Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome, Andre Holland, Alex R Hibbert, Trevante Rhodes

 

Plot: A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Powerful Drama

 

Story: Moonlight starts as Juan (Ali) a local drug dealer who sees Little (Hibbert) being bullied and offers him help with his girlfriend Teresa (Monae), Little real name is Chiron who lives with his abusive mother Paula (Harris) that does care about him but needs to satisfy her own drug habit.

We move onto meet Chiron (Sanders) in his teenage years still having problems at home and hanging out with Juan and Teresa to help him develop into the man he could be. At this stage of his life he still gets bullied but his friend Kevin still stands by his side and at this stage of his life Chiron starts to make discovers about himself.

The third chapter of Chiron’s life known as Black (Rhodes) shows him fully grown following in the footsteps of Juan but being his own man about it embracing his own sexuality.

 

Thoughts on Moonlight

 

StoryThe story here is a braver story than what we are used to seeing movies portray the modern day black man from the streets, as we are used to seeing the gangs and bling. This film brings us a coming of age story about discovering who one boy is meant to be, not letting others hold him back. While I do think this story is brilliant I couldn’t help but have myself wondering about some of the characters through the other chapters, I also do think not everyone will enjoy this one.

Characters/PerformancesThe characters are all surrounding the central character of Chiron through his young life from boy to his own man, this character is written to be brave different and diverse to anything we have seen within this genre and environment before which is huge for this film. Paula the mother does have the story arc you have come to expect through films like this while other characters are people that come into his life at the right time. You can’t fault a single performance in this movie because everyone is brilliant in what is a true performance display from a cast that is relatively unknown.

SettingsThe settings in the movie show just how rough the neighbourhood Chiron must grow up in which shows how easily he could be led astray from a path that will get him everything he wants from life.

Final ThoughtsThis is a brilliant performance piece that would be considered essential viewing but isn’t going to be for everyone.

 

Overall: Special film that is written to top levels, performed to the best and most importantly taking on a subject we haven’t seen before.

Ratingcard

 

 

Jake Gyllenhaal Weekend Southpaw (2015)

logooDirector: Antoine Fuqua

Writer: Kurt Sutter (Screenplay)

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Forest Whitaker, Oona Laurence, 50 Cent, Skylan Brooks, Naomie Harris, Victor Ortiz, Beau Knapp

Plot: Boxer Billy Hope turns to trainer Tick Willis to help him get his life back on track after losing his wife in a tragic accident and his daughter to child protection services.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Left Hook to the Heart

Story: Southpaw starts with Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) defending his Light Heavyweight Title at Madison Square Gardens. When a wannabe challenger Miguel ‘Magic’ Escobar (Gomez) starts pushing Billy into a fight Billy wants to shut him up by demanding his manager Jordan Mains (50 Cent) to make the match happen.

When his wife Maureen (McAdams) is noticing him getting punch drunk from his matches she wants him to step back to spend time with his daughter Leila (Laurence) but Jordan is pushing three more fights.

When Escobar pushing Billy too far at a charity event an all out brawl ensues leading to a gun shot killing Maureen. This is just the beginning to the downward spiral Billy takes as he loses his money, his team and most tragic to him custody of his daughter.

We now watch how Billy must rebuild his life, career and reputation by turning to trainer Tick Wills (Whitaker), cleaning up his substance abuse to get his daughter back.

Southpaw gives us the traditional sports story of redemption but also offers up a fresh look at how our hero Billy reaches his redemption. We get a much more personal battle for Billy to go through which leads us to see how sports stars can lose everything. I will have to question how the story gives us thin sub-plots where we look at certain characters have things happen and everything just get done off camera, be it how the judge just seemed to go have your kid back, Hoopy story gets completely looked over and the promoter who could have been corrupt just getting ignored. On the sports side everything is almost perfect so I can’t complain but in the end certain things end up just getting left to us to go yeah that is ok.

Actor Review

Jake Gyllenhaal: Billy Hope is the light heavyweight champion of the world on top of the world but everything comes crashing down when his wife is killed. He loses his belt, his home and his daughter leaving him no choice but to clean up his act and regain the life he once had through hard work. Jake gives us yet another brilliant performance where he could easily get an Oscar nomination.billy

Rachel McAdams: Maureen Hope is the wife and whole world to Billy, she supports him in every fight while arranging his life. She wants Billy to retire or at least take a break because his style is going to leave him punch drunk. When she is killed the life of her family starts to fall apart. Rachel gives a good performance even if it is only a supporting role.maureen

Forest Whitaker: Tick Wills is a boxing trainer who reluctantly gives Billy a job, a chance to train to prove he is committed before letting him in the ring to learn a new style of fighting that plays to the defensive side Billy isn’t used to using. He has his own past which has lead him to be like Billy giving him the chance to redeem his own defeats in his past. Forest gives us a great performance as the man with a troubled past who gets a chance of redemption.ticks

Oona Laurence: Leila Hope is the daughter of Billy and Maureen who ends up going into custody of family services when Billy can’t handle his life without his wife. She is the motive behind everything Billy does as she is the only thing he really wants in life. Oona gives a brilliant performance from such a young starlet.leila

50 Cent: Jordan Mains is the promoter and manager of Billy who keeps trying to make his fighter continue fighting, he has a questionable motives and once Billy loses everything he teams up with the enemy Escobar. 50 Cent gives us a good supporting role as the promoter we are not sure about through the film.

Support Cast: Southpaw has a supporting cast that offer sub-plots that don’t completely get dealt with but each one does find a way to motive our leading characters.

Director Review: Antoine Fuqua Antoine gives us a brilliant sporting drama that shows how hard redemption can be to achieve.

Action: Southpaw keeps most of the action in the boxing ring giving us the real time fight scenes that all come off real throughout.

Drama: Southpaw brings us into a personal lives of the Hope family as we see them go through tragic events before having to grow and power through them.

Sports: Southpaw makes all the boxing look realistic from the moment they enter the ring.

Thriller: Southpaw keeps you wondering what will happen from the start to finish.

Settings: Southpaw creates all the settings that all work perfectly for the moments in the film from the fall from the top to the rise back.

Suggestion: Southpaw is one of the best films this year and should be watched by all. (Watch)

Best Part: Boxing all looks realistic.

Worst Part: Sub-plots do get forgotten.

Believability: No

Chances of Tears: You could get a few

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: Jake could get an Oscar nod.

Box Office: $35 Million

Budget: $30 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 4 Minutes

Tagline: Believe In Hope.

Trivia: Antoine Fuqua had no money to pay James Horner to compose the film due to the films short budget. However, James didn’t care as he loved the idea of the film and decided to do it for free.

Overall: Brilliant sporting drama that is all about redemption

Ratingcard