Thursday, 29 December 2016



Collateral Damage.

97 Mins. Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Pena, Naomie Harris, Jacob Latimore, Kate Winslet & Helen Mirren. Director: David Frankel.

'Collateral', the taxi cab confides, claustraphobic classic starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx remains one of this writers all-time favourite films, more than a decade after the modern great was first released. 'Collateral Beauty' starring both leads very good friend Will Smith, on the other hand is a lot like if you watched 'American Beauty', but then found a thorn in one of those roses. I don't mean to sound like a prick, but this collateral damage is more ugly than it is a bright lights role call of some of the biggest names in Hollywood. This many All-Stars haven't been wasted since an old and past their best Jordan or Kobe farewell retirement game. Names like Smith, Norton, Knightley, Harris, Winslet, Mirren and especially rookie of the year Latimore are nowhere near their leading light expiration date. But here 'The Devil Wears Prada' director David Frankel shows us that Satan also rocks around the Christmas tree in a Santa hat. Because if it hasn't felt like Christmas this year, now its past this ghost won't offer you any good tidings to make you feel like it is any more so. No wonder this movie was boxed up a day after December 25th. Last Christmas was only a few sleeps ago but it really was a dark one. We lost George Michael. Our Princess Carrie Fisher the very next day. And now just when we thought we were done with the tears. This collateral hit, St Nick beard disguised as special schmaltz hits us right were it hurts. But this isn't one for sorrow, or for that matter tears of joy. More like ones of anger. What looked like another 'Christmas Carol' cliche, that was tis the welcome season for (especially after the year of death, Trump and Brexit), turns out to be something just as confused and contrived as this cruel calender. 'It's A Wonderful Life' this is not.

Boxing Day Will Smith films are usually the ticket that lead to long and winding lines out the theatre doors. But with this one you may need an air stewardess to help you find the nearest exit. He was legend (and still is...I mean who else has the greatest in the world charisma to portray and play 'Ali'?)...but then again that was ten years ago in 2007. Movies with this Fresh Prince trying to be Hollywood's king without going stale set in New York used to light up this city like Times Square on New Years. Remember 'Hitch'? That date doctor really was the perfect prescription the audience ordered to rise the Empire State up like it's most world famous building. And sure this winters tale really does focus in the best time of year for a city so festive they named it twice, but after a year of important, inspired biographies by the book and Deadshot comic adaptations on the comeback trail, Will seems to have lost his way a bit. Like if he had said yes to the regurgitation of his 'Independence Day' franchise this Summer for his big screen return. Sure this Hollywood squad assemble isn't career suicide...but it's definitly a concussion. Even if Mr. Smith who once passed up on 'The Matrix' (and 'Django Unchained' speaking of Foxx), is A-game accented, incredible in every inspired scene he emotes with his raw, restrained passion crippled under a fathers love ravaged by tragedy and the charity of cheap sentiments that offer no substance to a man looking for nothing in all his grief here. Just like he's trying to keep hold of Oscar gold, whilst everything else is just brass. He's the most tasteful, expensive decorations, on a tacky, plastic tree. But all these paint by numbers, script building blocks and cliched parts don't even slot together. God help the team behind this if they ever have to put and Ikea chest of draws together. What on the trailer surface looks like a bereaved man writing letters to love, death and time, reaching out to the cosmos, only to be visited by three angelic representations of them straight out of 'A Christmas Carol' lawsuit of 'It's A Wonderful Life' counter arguments actually turns out to be the most cruelly contrived manipulation of a mans emotions and mental state, no matter the intention. A man who lost his daughter for Christs sake. And all for what? Friendship or company? Money or something richer? We won't completely ruin this like we did when we rode 'Passengers' in our last review (our bad...we're sorry! But who gets lost in space waking up almost a century too early and then wakes someone else up to the same rude awakening fate just because their a hot blonde whose jokes are only funny...because well they're Jennifer Lawrence (cheat don't have to fake laugh when she's not actually there)...yeah it's not been the best week for movies), but the gaslighting winner of the biggest, humanity devoid film of the week that really just shows how bad and morally corrupt this world and our social life trending today really is is this turkey (at least 'Passengers' buckled a cautionary tale amongst it's horror hull of the ultimate modern day partner choosing stalking) and all the Hollywood trimmings can't save it.

When everything here is this manipulating who needs friends or films like these? Because apart from Will if you took out most of the big names and their low characters out of this one and kept the theme strictly to the trailer that was sold to us (ah hem 'Passengers') and away from tired twists (even if two (TWO?), sweet relief late ones would almost save this clusterf### of a starry night if they didn't look like an 11th hour rushed and messy rewrite), we'd have the guilty pleasure our innocent, naive buzz fed minds hoped for with all it's on pitch paper conviction. But the trouble is we don't have that or this. Even if it tries to turn everything all around. The needle is gone on this moral compass and everything else just looks lost like a mess that doesn't make any damn sense. Miss Moneypenny Brit, Naomie Harris who has being doing the Hollywood rounds since she was Jamie Foxx's girlfriend in 'Miami Vice' is great and newcomer singer Jacob Latimore who made the festive 'Black Nativity' hip-hopera really sing deserves his moment. But some of our Academy Award winners won't be receiving Oscar nomination envelopes through their doors this New Year. Although they play it as best they can Helen Mirren's death warmed up character seems muddled and Keira Knightley's love is like a first date in need of that emergency intervening phone call from your best friend halfway through dinner. Everything is not O.K. when someone as good as Kate Winslet has to phone it in and a calling on everything he has Michael Pena can't ring true. And the less said about or by the character wrote for Edward Norton the better. After one deplorable moment he concludes in confession, "I need a drink"! But buddy I loved you as the Hulk but you need a lot more than that. He tries to put on the charm, but ends up looking like a snake as these "friends" and co-workers look more like they're drilling for oil than getting to the core of their boss and "brothers" condition. The only bright light on this night that should have stayed silent, Will Smith even finds a way to make his corny and pretentious opening line of "what is your why" make and work more sense than it's trying to provoke by looking superior. The rest of this cast can't even bring meaning to the word...let alone their own definition. There's a good film in here but it's drowned under more b.s. than there is big stars. There's a moment in this movie were Will Smith lacking in faith says, "there's no such thing as Collateral Beauty". In this case we kind of think if only that were true. And in another instance, shortly after the above picture of what looks like Helen Mirren handing him his lines was taken, Will Smith tells the G.B. national treasure playing the granny reaper sharply, "I don't want this"...yep! Because although we wouldn't rather be dead, we don't love this and we just wish we could get our time back. Where's a Murray Christmas when you need one? We've all been scrooged! TIM DAVID HARVEY.

See This If You Liked: 'It's A Wonderful Life', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Seven Pounds'.


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