Friday, 24 August 2012
118 Mins. Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bokeem Woodbine, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy & John Cho. Director: Len Wiseman. Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer & Mark Bomback
Arnie told us he'd be back-albeit it was in a different film-but 2012 sees the return of Mr. Schwarzenegger and 'Total Recall', but not together. At the 'Expendable' expense of Arnold, 'Recall' moves on from the memories to the moments and the past to the present as Colin Farrell beats out leading men Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender for the role of factory worker Doug McQuaid who goes to 'Rekall' and realizes things aren't quite how he thought.
If you recall the 1990 classic original you'll remember Arnie snapping necks and killing people with drills whilst delivering trademark punchlines like "screw you" all whilst turning everything and everyone on site inside out up on mars. Well this 2012 reboot is less of a remake as it spins in a different direction. One that sticks more to the narrative script of the legendary Philip K. Dick book-'We Can Remember It for You Wholesale' that this franchise was based on. Just like modern greats 'The Adjustment Bureau' and 'Minority Report' the influence of Philip K's novel ideas makes this film that much deeper, darker, bolder and better.
Speaking of 'Minority Report' (which included a breathtaking, breakthrough performance from Farrell in his early days) there are shades of that film here, to go along with some shimmers of 'I. Robot'. Hey, this is a Sci-Fi after all, at times 'Recall' is a few storm-troopers away from being a 'Star Wars' march. What 'Recall' lacks in space (London and a half hour, earth core lift trip to 'The Colony' or Australia as its better known is chosen over Mars) it makes up for in time and a well constructed piece that's equal parts dramatic, drawn out paranoia as it is fumbling but formidable action.
Colin Farrell yet again shows that he is one of the worlds best leading men with another standout performance. Bringing his brooding conflicting act to his action acting capability he takes this film from gun-toting to prose-quoting with an all-round, all-star show. "If I'm not me, then who the hell am I" he asks with genuine fear. You're the right man to take this film to the modern mainstream buddy. Sure this will always be Schwarzenegger's film but for at least two hours and our new memories Farrell makes it his.
Still fans of the original don't worry, the woman with three breasts is back and looking better than ever (this isn't it for Kaitlyn Leeb). Want more? Than how about Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel. As the two amazing actresses bring their 'Underworld' and 'A-Team' combat training, along with their sex appeal to give this movie a real ass kicking, great look. As Farrell's lead is torn between two of the most beautiful women in Hollywood the femme fatales are in this film for much more than just a 'who's better' choice. They bring the substance over the style and are the perfect parts to symbolize the conflicted nature of this mind messing film. They tie it together perfectly.
Despite being underused there are some great performances from Bokeem Woodbine (especially in a tense, turmoil, turning point act), John Cho and legends Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy, but did I miss the Ethan Hawke cameo? Now there may be some lack of originality here, (then again check out the funky, fluorescent tattoos) but in the overdone world of science fiction its just nice to see a film that keeps up pace. Also all that can be forgiven for an unforgettable film. As a matter of fact, if you see this as a new futuristic action flick and not a 1990 recall this film looks all the better for it. From blending Western and Eastern influences to stunning car chases with more air this film looks the part. From the amazing, dark and totalitarian, futuristic look of the city this film awakens the pages of K. Dick's original book. Even Arnie has to give it up for one. More than another remake, this is an atmospheric reinvention. Remember this one. 'Total Recall' is back. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
103 Minutes. Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill & Richard Ayoade. Director: Akiva Schaffer. Screenplay: Jared Stern, Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
Friends and neighbors look out for this. Never fear, the comedies to cure those end of Summer blues are here. First there was our warm, fuzzy, 'Family Guy' feeling friend in 'Ted' and now we have four guys-two being 'Brat Pack' legends and two of the last decades best and brightest funniest men-looking after us. Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade are the Neighborhood Watch on patrol armed with some of the best jokes and jackets that look more like they belong to a ten-pin bowling team.
Still this films a strike despite some gutter-balls. Sure this film shouldn't have revealed the alien nature of its watch in the trailers-the second trailer 'cat out of the bag' would have worked a lot better as an in-film surprise-but its still out of this world funny. What on the outside looks like another small-town hilarious premise turns out to be a spaced out caper that is like 'Men In Black' with less neuralyser and more penis. You won't forget this watchable movie in a while. 'The Watch' looks even better with closer inspection.
As this film goes from 2am disturbances to 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind' it gets funnier and funnier by the gun barrel and rib ripping action. 'Meet The Parents' star Ben Stiller meets the aliens head on leading 'The Watch' with all his subtle charisma and star charm. He let's the one-liners flow naturally with fellow clowning vet Vince Vaughn who brings even more of his trademark, tickling inspired improv and cool charisma. It's great to see two of Hollywood's most consistent and likable stars back and together. They've still got it. Even if they look more and more like they're making a home in middle-age these days, they're talent is still keeping up with the mortgage payments.
Young, top comedy hit maker Jonah Hill continues his incredible year with a background but bold performance. After the serious award worthy 'Moneyball' performance made him a big-hitter in any park, Hill returned to 'Superbad' form with this years best comedy '21 Jump Street' and he continues his great batting average with another sweet swing right on the money. Still it's the perfect casting of British 'I.T. Crowd' star Richard Ayoade which is the master move here. Seen as his computer co-star Chris O'Dowd has had his fun with 'Bridesmaids' its now Ayoade's turn. The hilarious actor gets even more hysterical here and fits in alongside the three huge American stars perfectly. Expect more roles and red carpets to come for the quirky, quintessential talent soon. Watch this space.
'Saturday Night Live' and 'Magruber' legend Will Forte brings even more punch to a film that draws the lines perfectly with it's fab four already. With great gags its little surprise that another leading, legend establishing comedian is in the writers room as Seth Rogen adds his two cents of ink to Jared Stern and Evan Goldberg's screenplay. Despite some plodding plot this film is under the right direction. From egg on your face, crotch hitting embarrassment to slow motion 'Matrix' and suburban 'Reservoir Dogs' references, this film is an orgy of pop-culture and classic comedy.
Taking this films unassuming backdrop to the sweet suburbs of Glenview, Ohio is the perfect advert for white-picket 'Desperate Housewife' street America. More than that however this film appears to be the not so subtle placement for the company Costco. Still this film and the firm can be forgiven for not taking this all too seriously. Plus a film that changed it's name from 'Neighbourhood Watch' out of respect to the Trayvon Martin tragedy certainly has it's heart in the right place. From entertaining science fiction fodder to stand up guys delivering the gold laughs the good times roll off the reel. This film-in the name of a fun Friday night-doesn't take itself too seriously and you shouldn't either. 'The Watch' is worth looking out for. Keep an eye on it. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 17 August 2012
103 Minutes. Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis & Arnold Schwarzenegger. Director: Simon West. Screenplay: Richard Wenk & Sylvester Stallone
When Sylvester Stallone brought every great action hard-man of the nighties for the surprise, dumb fun hit 'The Expendables' two years back he was only really missing Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris...well not anymore. Now only a Steven Segal and his ponytail and the great Mickey Rourke (who apparently isn't here due to a money issue which seems strange when you look at his and Stallone's heartfelt history) are absent from the mix. Let's do a quick headcount; of course there's Chuck and Van Damme kicking it and joining 'The Expendables 2' as well as the usual suspects of Sly Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Randy Couture and...erm Terry Crews (who may not have been a famous action hero of the past...but now is, along with being damn funny like those 'Old Spice' commercials to boot (don't sniff at this 'Everybody Hates Chris' star, everybody loves him)).
If that wasn't enough there's some fresh, fancy new recruits in Chinese star Yu Nan and Liam Hemsworth who shows he's more than 'Thor's' little brother with a strong and soulful performance giving some heart and brains to this black and brawn piece. Also the big draw is getting more out of co-stars Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger than the classic, church cameo from the first film. With more cliches and puns which surprisingly work with more glee than groans Arnie is back now he's no longer running for president terminating everything in sight. As is Bruce making everything die harder without the string vest, in this ensemble he looks like the young one.
As a matter of fact even though he wrinkles are writing pensions their muscles don't want to cheque these guys have still got it. More gigantic than geriatric this film packs as many punches as bullets (and believe me 'The Matrix' and 'Heat's' clips are jealous). Van Damme can still kick it as high as he used to and Statham, Li and others are obviously still at the top of their hand to hand game. Stallone can still bruise and bout like Rocky too with Rambo endurance, while Dolph Lundgren still has that universal appeal soldiering up with the boys.
The only thing missing (apart from a plot) is a Chuck Norris roundhouse disappointingly but its not like the guy can still kick threw a car windshield. Besides are you going to tell Chuck Norris there's a problem with that? The roundhouse does not control Chuck Norris, he controls it and while shooting everything in sight he has that kind of stare that could just kill you anyway...the bullets are just a formality. Stallone has wrote another hit showing there's still some life in him and his old dogs yet. Sure there's not much of a story compared to the action but what else do you want from an action flick?
You want amazing, airport artillery scenes that are scheduled here for take-off. Plus there's more heart and soul to this than you would expect, just like the moving Mickey monologue from the first film (come on Rourke where are ya?). Stallone knows how to bring everything together in the perfect homage to the golden era of the nighties. You can't beat a classic. These guys may be old and heading for that hill that Rambo walked up for the entire closing credits of the last movie but they are far from expendable. Now why not leave your brain at the door this weekend and have some dumb brawn fun? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Illustration By Alan Fletcher.
Friday, 10 August 2012
106 Minutes. Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Joan Allen & Albert Finney. Director: Tony Gilroy. Screenplay: Dan Gilroy & Tony Gilroy
When the 'Bourne' series was delivered from the pages of Robert Ludlum's books to being birthed on the big-screen, the novel idea was heralded as the new Bond. Back then with 007 getting to be a bit of an old dog, even the greatest secret agent of all time learnt new tricks and rebooted to keep up with a new franchise. One that turned a page for both its own legacy and that of most marketable leading man Matt Damon, who before that-despite some 'Good Will Hunting'-was treated about as seriously as he was in 'Team America' as an actor. A trilogy later and Damon's Bourne character became a classic and through rumors and almost 'Bourne goes epic', artillery strong 'Green Zone' collaborations with director Paul Greengrass fans and critics alike wondered if they would do it again. Or is anyone else could.
And the only sighting of Matt Damon in this film appears to be the hint of an old photo of him with a middle parting. Still it's not all curtains for Damon or for a franchise whose hand-to-hand combat has been taken over a little by Liam Neeson's own crowning series. A series good enough to takeover 007 was always going to need more agents and at least here-with all due respect-they're not playing the same character with little regard for age or time. With Bourne trying to takeover Bond like the 'Mission: Impossible' series tried, who else to accept this task then Jeremy Renner? An actor whose already received Bourne style hand-to-hand classic combat training in 'Ghost Protocol'. A man who is so on point he moonlights with 'The Avengers' initiative as the trigger-man with the arrow, Hawkeye. A guy whose perfect performances in the Academy Award winning 'The Hurt Locker' and critically acclaimed 'The Town' has made this his year and moment.
It's only going to get better for Renner who now has a potential of three successful franchises to assign himself too. It's his world now and he kicks ass. Jumping in and duking it out with Damon's best scenes and bringing the heart and soul to his character that shares some of Bourne's problems but delivers his own solutions. Renner is competent and unique enough to keep this series going, all whilst making it his own and bringing a unanimous feeling of content within the films fanbase. The rumor of Renner and Damon teaming up in a future film just seems too good. Let's hope they're true.
Still for those who like the bookended trilogy there's plenty of familiar faces to bring the fondness back, even if they are as crooked as a well-read spy thrillers spine. Still its the new characters that help this legacy turn a page. The seemingly ageless and talent-full Rachel Weisz puts on an American accent and plays paranoia perfectly. Maybe she does have something to worry about, she dates James Bond (Daniel Craig) in real life yet acts in 'Bourne'. Even more peculiar is the brilliant but criminally underused Edward Norton. This former Hulk shows anger as our Hawkeye looks for avengance here but if we don't see more Norton in these new films we'll be left green, but not with envy.
This slow-burner takes a little longer to ignite than the other Bourne's but the cold and calculated, desk-to phone call-to coffin nature of the trilogies theme is carried on here. A scientist shootout is seriously sinister. Plus wants the fighting comes into action even those with the arms-folded will be forced to sit up and take notice in excitement and amazement. Even if a motorbike scene looks a little too 'Knight & Day', it brings more light than dark to this broody and insecure toned film. Besides 'The Bourne Identity' had mini-chases on the high street reminiscent of 'The French Connection' and it still managed to wear it all well like New York fashion. From action in Alaska to thrillers in Manila this film traverses a lot of ground and plot but it all works thanks to its new agent Aaron Cross. Sure the ultimatum tells us this is no 'Supremacy', but even without Bourne or Damon, Renner makes and marks his own identity and legacy. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 3 August 2012
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Leading man of the moment Jeremy Renner may just be the luckiest (or more like hardest working) actors in all of Hollywoodland. Right now the born star is owning more franchises than Robert Downey Jnr ('Iron Man' and 'Sherlock Holmes'). Currently you can find Renner in cinemas bolted up and taking aim alongside Downey Jnr's Iron Man and Scarlett Johannson's Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Chris Evans' Captain America and Mark Ruffalo's The Incredible Hulk in the assembling of 'The Avengers'. With a standout performance as comic book legend Hawkeye Jeremy really hit the mark with cocksure style and serious swagger. Still it's the arrow-man's other work that's really struck the bulls-eye.
This same month also saw the release on DVD of the fourth and latest 'Mission Impossible' saga. After being the best blockbuster to close out last year 'Ghost Protocol' re-energized a franchise that looked ready to self destruct. Many credit the presence of Renner and just like his hand-to-hand impressive gun steal sequence with Tom Cruise it remains to be seen if Renner will accept the mission of taking over this legendary series when Cruise finally accomplishes what he set out to do.
If he does he can bank on more hand to hand combat training this Summer as he our new A-Lister has met the grade of taking over the 'Bourne Legacy' that Matt Damon has left. At first fans where skeptical about the loss of Damon who people really see as the one true 'Bourne'. Still, however after the revelation that Renner will play another character and after an even more reassuring and incredibly exciting trailer. Now the same fans can't wait for the next chapter of 'Bourne' and Renner's legacy.
With the almost guaranteed success of 'Bourne Legacy' joining the redemption of 'Mission Impossible' and the record breaking 'Avengers' it looks like Renner has some real good job security for awhile. With a possible 'Hawkeye' spin-off and even more 'M:I' and 'Bourne' films coming as the two franchises look to battle it out over who's the next Bond-type series Jeremy's filmography looks to garner more box office returns and even more greatest hits. He could even take over Matt Damon as one of the industries most marketable stars at this rate. Needless to say, with a work-load over three different and popular, blockbuster film series' his future looks brighter than most stars. Right now Jeremy Renner's stock is soaring. It's a boom time for the actor. He hasn't made a bust yet.
It couldn't happen to a more deserving, harder working actor either. Since his nomination worthy, perfect performance in the award winning 'The Hurt Locker' which turned those blue 'Avatar's' green on Oscar night, Renner's only got better. The distinct style and substance of this character actor turned leading star really developed in 'The Town'. Standing alongside the maddest of men in Jon Hamm and Matt Damon's best director friend Ben Affleck, Renner stole the show from two of Hollywood's most popular guys with another Academy accreditation, gold worthy role. Playing a callous criminal, Renner delivered a cold and calculated performance which somehow managed to create some likable class for his bad guy alter ego. That's just the type of guy Jeremy Renner is...a likable favorite. One that looks set to find himself even more roles and friends soon.
Renner is just that real and his range just that great. The 41 year old, Modesto, California born actor who also has a side gig as a musician (he's performed some key tracks for some of his pictures soundtracks) has been around since 1995, but really started drawing big roles when he appeared in the Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell hit 'S.W.A.T' and '28 Weeks Later' a decade on. Since then his blue-collar hard work and his study of the acting game has seen so much more work and success over the last few years from the critically acclaimed (Brad Pitt's 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford') to the future ('Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters' with Gemma Atherton). Now over the next 10 years his tenure looks set to make him even better and one of the best talents in the acting industry (there's even rumors of him taking over Kurt Russell's 'Escape From L.A.'. With a hawk eye's on the right acting protocol, Renner has overcome the impossible and is now making his own lasting legacy with avengeance.