Tag Archive: crime


How many films can you really have about criminals racing cars? Obviously Dreamworks felt like seven (and the inevitable eighth, ninth and probably tenth) Fast & Furious films just weren’t enough to satisfy the public – the majority of whom complain about the great success that recent installments of Fast & Furious have had. Therefore, they have decided to take on the established franchise with their own, born from video game (always a recipe for success *rolls eyes*) effort. There is one major difference though: the tone.

 

 

From that short trailer you can already see a difference between Need for Speed and the films of Fast & Furious. While Fast & Furious has always tried to beat home serious themes of family it has always been hid behind a slightly tongue in cheek atmosphere, never more so than in Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6. However, with Aaron Paul giving a voice over and laying out the films premise it seems that there isn’t going to be much room for jokes in Need for Speed and seems to be more about a rivalry while giving the police and the crime section more serious undertones.

Aaron Paul’s casting also suggests a difference. Fast Five is probably the best film of the series so far but look at the cast; how many of those actors would look out of place in anything that wasn’t Fast & Furious? Can you really imagine Ludacris, Sung Kang or Gal Gadot in anything serious or better than the Fast & Furious franchise? No, of course not. But here Aaron Paul is one of the hottest names in television thanks to Breaking Bad and is one of the best up and coming actors around Hollywood at the minute. He has more drama in his little finger than the entire cast of the first Fast & Furious film. He’s paired up with Dominic Cooper (and anyone who has read my blog before knows how much I like him) and Imogen Poots, as well as Hollywood heavyweight and former Dark Knight, Michael Keaton.

 

But then there’s the almighty downfall of Need for Speed and why it probably won’t do well. Here’s the premise from IMDB for Need for Speed: Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins. This sounds a lot like an early Fast & Furious film, in particular it reminds me of 2 Fast 2 Furious. Since Fast & Furious gave itself a kick start with number four it became a lot more successful with audiences and critics alike and what was different in Fast & Furious (unfortunately the name of the fourth film as well as the franchise) to its predecessors? It was no longer really about the racing. Street racing or racing on the whole just wasn’t drawing in the audience so it was time to freshen things up in what is probably one of the best decisions in blockbuster history (maybe an overstatement, maybe not. You decide). Bringing standard racing back as the main story just doesn’t sit well with me.

I do hope that Need for Speed is a good film and I hope it brings in an audience (purely for Aaron Paul and Dominic Cooper, not for the prospect of sequels) but I just can’t see it happening.

Advertisements

What to Watch – July 2013

With most of the biggest summer films come and gone already, it is down to Pixar, giant robots and the least anticipated superhero film of the year to vie for audience attention.

.

.

Now You See Me – 3rd July

A star studded cast embark on a world wide game of cat and mouse to catch a group of ‘Robin Hood like’ magicians turned bank robbers in Now You See Me, which is by far the most exciting film on this list for me.

.

.

The Bling Ring – 5th July

From Sofia Ford Coppola comes The Bling Ring, starring Emma Watson (albeit sounding like an American brat). Inspired by true events, a group of teenagers begin stealing from the rich and famous Hollywood socialites… the whole story is in the trailer pretty much.

.

.

Pacific Rim – 12th July

After what many critics have called ‘the best trailer of the summer’ Guillermo Del Toro’s homage to Japanese monster films has a lot to live up to. And there don’t seem to be many people that think it will fail.

.

.

Monsters University – 12th July

This will be the film that either reassures everyone that Pixar’s last couple of years were just a blip, or confirm what many people fear: Pixar are declining. Hopefully, as Monsters Inc. is probably my favourite Pixar film, the former will be proved correct.

.

.

The World’s End – 19th July

Simon Pegg looks like he’s in the form of his life with the final installment in the Cornetto trilogy. Joined by a rich supporting cast it looks as though Wright, Pegg and Frost will be bowing out in a no less than exceptional manner.

.

.

The Wolverine – 25th July

In a film that not many people want and fewer are excited about (other than me who is quite looking forward to it) Wolverine is taken on his most human and darkest screen voyage to date. However, the main problem here is: if you make Wolverine mortal, surely he dies straight away due to his body being filled with adamantium? But after the massacre to the X-Men film universe that was Origins, I suppose that doesn’t really matter?

UK Release Date: 17th January 2014

Stars: Martin Scorsese (director), Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze, Jean Dujardin

Plot: A New York stockbroker refuses to cooperate in a large securities fraud case involving corruption on Wall Street, corporate banking world and mob infiltration.

The partnership of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have been responsible for some of the greatest films of recent years: Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, Shutter Island. They never bring a dud to the floor and this is why The Wolf of Wall Street is a must see already! It’s been three years since the pair worked together and now they’re working with a script from one of modern television’s great writers, Terrence Winter (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire).

Recently, Leonardo DiCaprio has been performing out of his skin with his performances in Django Unchained and The Great Gatsby earning him bucket loads of critical acclaim. The wonderful thing about his performance in the former is that he was allowed to just let loose and run with it: it looks as though he’ll be allowed to do the same here and it looks to be one of his more comedic roles…but just as brilliant.

A few years ago, Matthew McConaughey could only have dreamed of being in a film like this. Now, with resurgence complete, he seems an obvious candidate. Joining an all star cast in this biographical crime drama about the life of Jordan Belfort. Expect Oscar buzz, but whether nominations or wins will arrive remains to be seen.

Was that a DeLorean?

2013 will see the release of the sixth film in the highly commercially successful and highly critically criticised Fast & Furious franchise. Last week Vin Diesel uploaded some pictures to his Facebook account of him on set and these photos were met with largely negative response to people on the internet with people saying things like “oh look, Vin Diesel in a car, they’re really pushing the boat out for this one” or just simply “shit” etc etc etc. But really, what did people expect from the Fast & Furious franchise? And with every film pulling in great box offices so far and the latest instalment Fast Five being the highest praised and highest box office is there any need for all the negativity and is there any need for the series to be clamped?

It all began back in 2001 when producers decided to make a film about street racing clubs that use Japanese cars to race in New York City. And the first instalment, The Fast and the Furious, set the tone for what every other film that follows was set to be about; illegal street racing. And while these are just typical popcorn, mindless action films (up until Fast Five) is there really anything wrong with that? Actors, especially back in the 80s, have made names for themselves in making mindless action movies and what we have here is just an hour and a half – two hours of real escapist fun. The films aren’t made for the critics, they’re made for the fans and as long as the fans are out there the films will get made.

The fourth instalment reunited the original cast… if only for a brief time.

Whilst the series continues with 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, when the rightful sequel arrived in 2009 with the original cast members all back together the franchise seemed to be reborn. Fast & Furious reunited Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez as well as adding new characters that would seem to become main players in the franchise from her on out: Gal Gadot and Sung Kang (the latter also appearing in Tokyo Drift). With Fast Five some more talent was added and Dwayne Johnson received high critical praise for his performance (and is it any wonder? He was brilliant!) and the series continues to add fresh acting talent with The Fast and the Furious 6 adding Luke Evans, Gina Carano and Joe Taslim. It was rumoured that Rihanna (excuse me while I throw up) was reported to be in the next instalment but thanks to scheduling conflicts (Hallelujah!) we are not being subjected to that torture and she is rumoured to be replaced by British pop sensation Rita Ora… interesting.

Various shots of The Fast and the Furious 6 in production

Anyway, it was Fast Five that was the real game changer. It seems that now Fast & Furious has finally reached it’s full potential. With Fast Five, the writers, cast, crew, directors, producers, whoever! had got a grasp on what was going on in the series and Fast Five showed that it was more than just mindless action. They allowed for real character development; it was great to see how much Dom Turetto had changed since his first outing in 2001 as well as Paul Walker’s former cop turned criminal’s relationship with Jordana Brewster’s character. The really disheartening thing is that, because people think the first few films are rubbish, the majority of people will not watch Fast Five and they are missing out on a real treat and one of the greatest action films of all time!

Yes, the acting isn’t always brilliant and the stories aren’t always gripping but Fast & Furious has never set out to be a contender for big awards in film making. For this series it’s all about having fun; fast cars, hot women, tough men, big action scenes and explosions. And when you watch Fast & Furious you can’t help but have fun. So people should stop moaning about the quality of previous films, sit down and watch Fast & Furious (2009) followed by Fast Five and prepare to be swamped in fun, explosions and at times surprisingly touching friendships. Embrace it.

 

 

How can you not want to at least watch Fast Five after that?

Gangster Squad was originally set to be released this year (2012) back in September, yet due to the tragic Aurora shootings the release date was pushed back and Hollywood execs felt the need to re-shoot what would no doubt have become an iconic scene in film history. The scene in question featured several of the characters shooting in to a packed screening at the cinema from behind the screen; obviously, this was changed as to not be associated with the Aurora shootings. However, now that everything has been amended Gangster Squad has a new trailer and a new release date of January 2013.

Gangster Squad is inspired by true events (although when a film says that you can never be sure just what is true and what has been fabricated) and Sean Penn plays famous gangster Mickey Cohen. The LAPD are undertaking an operation to keep the Los Angeles area free of gangsters in the 1940s and 50s and Cohen is at the centre of this scheme as he seems to be the most wanted gangster out there. Here is the trailer, you’ll get a better taste of the story from that:

 

 

The trailer does raise a couple of questions: Why does Ryan Gosling have such a squeaky voice? Did Emma Stone really believe that Ryan Gosling was a bible salesman? Is Emma Stone the most attractive actress working today? Who is the main good guy? But one thing the trailer does make clear is that Gangster Squad is determined to be a very stylish and quintessentially cool film.

The cast is one of the most exciting that I have probably ever seen. You’ve got the seasoned professionals in the form of Nick Nolte and Sean Penn; actors who have been around for a while but are now enjoying a reboot in their careers such as Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling, the latter of whom has established himself this year as one of the coolest men on the planet. Then you have the rising stars of the bunch with Emma Stone and Anthony Mackie all topped up with those actors you see in a lot of movies but never have a main role; Michael Pena and Giovanni Ribisi.

 

With a cast this good, this experienced and this versatile you need a director who is going to be able to get the best out of every single one of them whilst telling a brilliant story and giving the audience a real sense of being in the mid-twentieth century LA. In Ruben Fleischer I am not sure if they have that kind of director. Fleischer is pretty inexperienced and Gangster Squad looks as though it should be aiming to become one of the best gangster films of all time, yet Fleischer has mainly worked on comedies up until now so it could be a risk with him at the helm. If he gets it wrong the majority of the blame will fall his way, but if it goes right then this could be where Fleischer’s career really takes off.

Gangster Squad resembles Ocean’s Eleven in the way it carries itself and oozes style and substance and it has a cast to rival the George Clooney film as well. I am a fan of gangster and crime films and I am very excited to see how Gangster Squad turns out; I have a very high expectation for this one and am sure that it will not disappoint!

UK Release Date: 25th January 2013.

Stars: Allen Hughes (director), Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Plot: An ex-cop trailing the wife of New York City’s mayor finds himself immersed in a larger scandal.

Here is Russell Crowe taking on a very different look and perhaps overdoing the tan to play his character in Broken City whilst Mark Wahlberg just looks the same as he always does. I think these two actors have something in common with one another: they have both made some fantastic movies (The Departed, Gladiator) but both have also made movies that tread the line between bad and mediocre (Contraband, Robin Hood).

It feels like with the Broken City trailer we are being told lots of things but we are actually being told very little. The conspiracy or the ‘larger scandal’ are kept secret which is obviously a good marketing ploy to attract viewers but is the very boring story of ‘find out who my wife is sleeping with then i’ll kill her’ really an interesting in? I don’t think so.

I’m a fan of Russell Crowe and I do really like Mark Wahlberg (the same can’t be said for my feelings on the incredibly annoying Catherine Zeta-Jones and when she finally gets out of movies I will be very happy) so I hope that Broken City is a good film, but I can’t see it escaping the pool of mediocre films and it will surely slip into obscurity.

A Study in Terror is not the type of film I would usually watch; the only time I ever really watch films from as far back as the sixties is when I go round to my grand parents’ house and my Grandad has Channel 5 on on a Sunday afternoon (which is usually a standard John Wayne film). However, this one caught my attention as it puts together two of the most intriguing characters in British history: the great detective Sherlock Holmes and the infamous murderer Jack the Ripper.

This particular drama tells the story of Sherlock Holmes (John Neville) and Dr. John Watson (Donald Houston) who’s interest is peaked in the Whitechapel prostitute murderers when they receive an intriguing package through the post. And once in Whitechapel Holmes uses those famous skills of deduction to uncover, track down and apprehend Jack the Ripper who is loose on the streets.

In my opinion, the most important thing in a Sherlock Holmes adaptation is that the relationship is portrayed correctly by the two main actors and in this sense, it really is. You get sense of the friendship, comradery and respect that the two men have for one another although the homoerotic undertones of their relationship is scrapped from A Study in Terror (something Guy Ritchie’s most recent films have had fun with). Neville and Houston speed up the pace of the film once they arrive in London and it is much needed after a slow start; their dialogue is well written and well delivered even though it seems like most of it is Watson just asking Holmes how he figured something out and then Holmes just detailing how much smarter he is than everyone else over and over again.

Their are appearances from other Arthur Conan Doyle characters which is a nice turn up with Inspector Lestrade (Frank Finlay) and Mycroft Holmes (Robert Morley) showing up. It is interesting to see these fiction characters mixed up in real events with a young Barbara Windsor playing Annie Chapman, a real life victim of Jack the Ripper. Although when her character gets killed off their is a little part of you that is pleased because it means you don’t have to hear her squeaky, really really annoying, mouse-like voice any more!

And speaking of the killings, those are the most intense parts of the movie. For a film that was made in the 60s the violence is awfully real and the murders by Jack the Ripper are really quite horrible, with the fight scenes also feeling rather realistic so hats off there. Unfortunately though, the period of production does show through with the over the top acting and the really melodramatic feel to it all which is a flaw to a great concept. The murder mystery element is handled averagely as well, with twists and turns coming late on but some are rather too obvious to cause any great sense of revelation and it feels as though, at times, A Study in Terror is trying to feed you clues without actually wanting to. It’s all very conflicted.

Overall, a great idea with good characters at the centre of the piece but sometimes a bit slow and dull unfortunately. Worth a watch on a rainy afternoon if there is nothing else on.

My Rating: 5/10.

UK Release Date: 21st November 2012

Stars: Michael Hoffman (director), Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, Cameron Diaz, Stanley Tucci

Plot: An art curator decides to seek revenge on his abusive boss by conning him into buying a fake Monet, but his plan requires the help of an eccentric and unpredictable Texas rodeo queen.

Unfortunately, this is not a trailer for a film based around the universally popular X-Men character of the same name, even though if you type ‘Gambit trailer’ into Youtube you will just be forced to watch Taylor Kitsch as Gambit for a few seconds. What this Gambit actually is is a remake of the 1966 Michael Caine film and this trailer is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face.

Written by Joel and Ethan Coen you are guaranteed a hit really, it just seems a shame that they’re not actually directing this one. But since the script is from them you can anticipate lots of humour and great characters. Michael Hoffman’s most recent film was The Last Station which managed to get Oscar nominations for both Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, so maybe Hoffman can once again get the best out of his cast here.

The trailer for Gambit gives us plenty to look forward to in terms of a charming-as-ever Colin Firth and a hilarious and naked Alan Rickman; it also gives us something not to look forward to: Cameron Diaz putting on a ridiculously annoying accent as if she wasn’t irritating enough already! Luckily, the trailer puts across a suave sense of style and sophistication which Colin Firth can carry single handedly, but it looks as though Alan Rickman will be allowed to let loose and will be the cause of much laughter come the end of November.

UK Release Date: 23rd November 2012.

Stars: David Ayer (director), Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, Cody Horn, David Harbour.

Plot: Two young officers are marked for death after confiscating a small cache of money and firearms from the members of a notorious cartel, during a routine traffic stop.

From the writer of such crime and action films such as Training Day, The Fast and the Furious, S.W.A.T comes his latest film which is written, directed and produced by this man: End of Watch. Based on his previous films the action should be handled pretty well and will probably be placed above character in the order of prominence.

However, judging by the trailer, End of Watch seems to place more importance on character development and relationships that any of Ayer’s previous work so this could be a step in the right direction. Gyllenhaal and Pena play the two cops who come under attack by the drug cartel and hopefully their chemistry will be believable.

If the film is entirely shot in the same way as the trailer, with the action scenes sliced together with scenes that look like they are from a cop documentary then I would be very interested to see it. But the trailer seems to split itself into two halves. In the beginning it looks like a more realistic and real life look at the work of police officers, then it turns into just a generic action cop film. I think that once you’ve seen so many cop films they all become the same.

Saying that though, I do think End of Watch looks pretty good.

Thriller in ‘The Loft’

Stars: Erik Van Looy (director), Karl Urban, James Marsden, Wentworth Miller, Eric Stonestreet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Rachael Taylor, Margarita Levieva.

Plot: Five married men share ownership of an upmarket loft, which they use to discretely meet their respective mistresses. When the body of a murdered woman is found in that loft, the men begin to suspect each other of having committed the gruesome crime, as they are the only ones with keys to the premises.

The Loft is an upcoming thriller remake of the 2008 Belgian film ‘Loft‘ also directed by Erik Van Looy and also starring Matthias Schoenaerts in the same role he plays in this version. The original became the most successful Flemish movie ever at the box office so this could be quite a good film, even if it doesn’t get that much attention.

The cast, while without many notable names, brings together actors and actresses from some of the best loved films and television shows of the last few years: Urban (Star Trek), Marsden (X-Men), Miller (Prison Break), Taylor (Charlie’s Angels), Levieva (Revenge). While few have acted in feature films before they have all proved their talent and it should make for a good watch.

The premise is very interesting and it has a good story and amount of characters, friendship and trust which will make for a good whodunnit storyline. The film pieces the truth together through a series of flashbacks intertwined with scenes from the present day and hopefully will keep the audience guessing who committed the crime and why until the end of the film (because films are rubbish when the audience knows the truth from the start). It looks very good but doesn’t yet have a distributor in the UK but depending on how it does in the United States upon it’s release at the end of the year we could see it come over to Britain mid 2013.