Tag Archive: thriller


It is probably the most needless remake in the history of remakes: the novels that the film were based on were only released in 2005 and the novels were turned into films in Swedish (makes sense considering the author of the novels was Swedish and the film itself takes place in Sweden) in 2009 to very positive reviews. Apparently though it is deemed impossible for people to watch a film in a foreign language and so it was remade for a larger mainstream audience with studios hoping to cash in. So how good is the remake?

Daniel Craig is Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has just lost his reputation in a very public court hearing. Blomkvist is then hired because of his investigative talents to take on a case of a disappearing girl that happened over 40 years ago. He works with Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a very complicated girl with a dark past but is a skilled computer hacker, to delve deeper into the mystery. The pair bond as they work together to uncover hidden secrets in a dark past of the Vanger family.

Rooney Mara is brilliant as the title character; she has to put in a very very emotional performance and she goes through some very dark and brutal scenes. Mara’s dedication to the role was clear beforehand as she got several real piercings instead of opting for fake ones for her character and that dedication shows on screen. She has good chemistry with Daniel Craig who seems to be the only person in Sweden without a Swedish accent but that can be overlooked. Most people will know Daniel Craig as James Bond and playing such an iconic role it becomes difficult to distance yourself from that. It takes a really good film and a really good performance to move away from being thought of just as Bond and Craig accomplishes that here with a very assured and understated performance. Yorick van Wageningen, Christopher Plummer, Stellen Skarsgard and Joely Richardson make up part of the supporting cast in what is an all round wonderfully crafted cast.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo lasts for two and a half hours but moves at such a fast pace that this doesn’t drag at all. The opening twenty minutes as the film introduces it’s characters is a little sluggish and uninteresting but it is vital to gain backstory. Once Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist takes on this mysterious case though the film begins to roll and doesn’t waste a second to look back. There are lots of things happening at once and if you blink you may miss something important; you can’t take your eyes off the screen for a second. They mystery of who is responsible for the missing girl all them years ago is fantastic and keeps you guessing with revelation after revelation having lasting effects on the Vanger family at the centre of the film. There are parts of the film that are horrible realistic and will make you cringe at the sight of it but the sensitive issues are handled well and the brutal events are handled even better by director David Fincher. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a crime thriller deserving of the highest acclaim.

Fincher is easily one of the best directors of the past twenty years churning out Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and now this; I would say The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is second only to Fight Club and even gives that a run for its money. The suspense created throughout the feature is wonderful and the beautiful editing is what makes this such an invigorating watch. Once the mystery is solved things revert back to how they did at the beginning and the film unwinds slowly but we are too invested and curious about the characters to mind that any more.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a masterpiece.

My Rating: 9/10.

Hanna is an American-European action thriller revolving around a 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin after she is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

Saoirse Ronan plays the sixteen year old girl at the centre of the movie and back in 2011 she was nominated for a number of awards, quite rightly, for her portrayal of the assassin. Right from the opening hunting scene you get a real sense of Ronan’s acting abilities and you know instantly that this is going to be a great performance from her. Hanna’s father, Erik Heller is played by Eric Bana and although he puts on a pretty convincing accent for his part in the film there is something very off putting about his on screen persona; this could be attributed to his character’s past but I think unfortunately it comes down to Bana himself (who I am not a fan of anyway after seeing him in The Hulk and being almost bored to tears watching The Time Traveler’s Wife). Cate Blanchett plays the villain pretty convincingly, she does seem like someone who you could really hate. And there’s a lovely moment where Jason Flemyng decides to pop up and inject a bit of humour into the film that is largely unexpected.

Hanna is quite a step away from what director Joe Wright is known for; he previously directed Pride & Prejudice and Atonement. His direction, however, is one of the most interesting aspects of the film. Every shot is clearly well thought through and the film just looks like a wonderful piece of artwork, the visuals are very very good. There is a sequence early on where Hanna, after thinking she has completed her mission, breaks out from where she is being held and her escape is so visually stimulating its incredible, the camera work, the effects: everything is detailed perfectly and it is a very fun sequence to watch. The film also has an underlying theme of fantasy and fairy tale (one of Hanna’s only forms of escapism comes in the form of a Grimm fairy tale book) and you really get a sense for that whilst watching. It’s not ‘in your face’ so much but when you notice it it really adds another layer to the film itself.

I would have liked to have seen more fight scenes and more action because at some times it did become quite dull and things seemed to take longer than perhaps they should have (Hanna’s friendship with the British girl she meets almost seems irrelevant) but when the action did take place and fights happened they were choreographed excellently. Eric Bana takes on four men in an underground car park type place and it is shot and fought really well. As for being a thriller it is good to see the seeds planted for the revelations at the end quite early on but I do think more back story would have been helpful to let the audience connect with the characters better.

Overall a very good film, the directing and the acting helps to overcome the sparse action sequences.

My Rating: 7/10.

UK Release Date: 25th January 2013.

Stars: Robert Zemeckis (director), Denzel Washington, James Badge Dale, Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood.

Plot: An airline pilot saves a flight from crashing, but an investigation into the malfunctions reveals something troubling.

From the director of the all time classic Back to the Future trilogy, Flight is Denzel Washington’s latest offering and sees him return to a more drama centred piece after recent films Safe House, Unstoppable and The Book of Eli. This is a great decision by Denzel Washington in my opinion because I think he is at his best in dramatic roles rather than the more action engineered roles he likes to take.

Denzel Washington plays the pilot of a place forced to crash land in the middle of nowhere. He instantly becomes a national celebrity and hero as he lands successfully and saves passengers’ lives. However all is not what it seems and upon doing tests alcohol is found in the pilot’s system which seems to be a reason as to why the plane may have took a dive in the first place. Washington’s character has two sides to him and is something that he could really get into and have fun with, I anticipate a fantastic performance from the ever consistent Washington.

Unfortunately though, the trailer gets a little lost and seems confused about what it is actually advertising. At times I feel like it chops and changes from a crime drama to light hearted drama to courtroom piece then to a thriller; if the people advertising don’t know what kind of film it is then how are we supposed to know? It seems like Flight is suffering from a slight identitiy crisis which really needs to be sorted before its release especially since Denzel Washington, although his films still make a profit, does not have the box office appeal that was once bestowed upon him.

UK Release Date: 14th September 2012.

Plot: In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.

Stars: David Koepp (director), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Jamie Chung.

As anyone who reads my blog will know, I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt; he is a fantastic actor and usually he picks great roles (Inception, 50/50, 500 Days of Summer etc.) but this trailer does nothing to enhance his reputation.

The plot sounds interesting and it should make a good action thriller which is what Premium Rush is being marketed as but the trailer doesn’t contain too much action and does not look that thrilling. Most of the trailer seems to be taken up by Joseph Gordon-Levitt being hit by cars and he must be pretty strong to survive that many crashes.

Premium Rush only really came to my attention this morning and when I looked at the cast I was looking forward to viewing the trailer but I feel let down. It left me feeling rather bored with it and did nothing to increase my anticipation for the film and only managed to decrease my interest.

Hopefully this is just a bad trailer and the actual film will be all right but I wouldn’t bank on it too much.

 

Here we go; I hold the controversial opinion that Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is ridiculously over rated and really quite a boring film. Taxi Driver is commonly thought of as one of the greatest films of all time but its not something I agree with. I recently got round to watching Drive starring Ryan Gosling and I couldn’t help but notice a few similarities between the two.

Both films centre on a man who’s job revolves around driving: Taxi Driver‘s Travis Bickle is a former marine who served in Vietnam but comes back to New York and takes up a job as a taxi driver, hence the name of the film; Drive‘s Driver, portrayed by Gosling, is a movie stunt double who moonlights as a driver in the criminal underworld. While both characters come from different backgrounds and are of different mental stabilities they are both loners at heart and form a relationship with a woman in the film.

For a large majority of both films not a lot actually happens. The first half of Taxi Driver and Drive both try to build character with not much action. When I was watching Taxi Driver I thought that it was at its best when it was doing this, we were following Travis around on his various journeys getting to know the man behind the wheel before the much anticipated shoot out at the end. Drive introduces us to the Driver’s world straight away and for the first half an hour there is very little dialogue but the audience still get a sense of character. Because of the lack of action at the beginning of both films they rely on the character and the actors’ portrayal of their characters and fortunately this works well for both films; Ryan Gosling had a great year in 2011 and Drive is a fantastic performance of his, while Robert De Niro is flawless as Travis Bickle.

So up to the halfway point both films are very similar and then something happens which, for me, makes Drive a much better film than Taxi Driver. About halfway through Taxi Driver (maybe later but I haven’t seen it for a while so I forget) loses all sense of direction and seems to have no idea where it is going. Suddenly, Travis Bickle outrightly becomes the psychopath he is remembered for but I feel as though this comes from nowhere. Taxi Driver forgets its narrative arc and throws its plot out of the window in my opinion.

Drive steps it up a gear as it enters its final act; the action feels real, the Driver’s motivation feels real. The whole film makes sense in terms of its narrative. In the beginning Drive sets off on its travels and, at the end, reaches its destination, the same can’t be said for Taxi Driver. Gosling’s Driver’s motivations are obvious and relatable, his journey is a complete arc and his actions are emotionally fuelled. Drive is a blood pumping film; the action is well spaced throughout the film and at times catches the audience off guard, tricking the audience into thinking they will see one thing but they see another.

In my opinion, Drive and Taxi Driver are similar films and anyone that has seen both of them can notice why similarities may be drawn. I do believe that Drive is a much better film to watch and be entertained by. Where Taxi Driver offers a depiction of breakdown of society or mental state, Drive sticks to filmic conventions and offers up an enjoyable treat which does not become boring by any stretch of the imagination.

Given the choice, I’d be watching Drive every time.

Rendition (2007) Review.

Rendition is a thriller, released in 2007 to mixed reviews. It centres on a CIA analyst who begins to question his assignment after witnessing an unorthodox interrogation at a secret detention facility outside the US. The film is based on the true story of Khalid El-Masri who was mistaken for Khalid Al-Masri.

It features a cast of many big names: Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon, Peter Sarsgaard (who spends most of the film looking incredibly similar to Ewan McGregor), Meryl Streep and J.K. Simmons and is directed by Gavin Hood who is also responsible for ruining a fan favourite Marvel character’s origins in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The performances of the above are not that bad and that is the highest compliment I can pay them, however the performance of Omar Metwally who plays the man mistaken for a terrorist is absolutely fantastic; he completely steals the show.

Jake Gyllenhaal’s character is very two dimensional. I like Gyllenhaal as an actor and when he turns it on he really does turn it on, but here in Rendition something is lacking. His character is poor and nothing can really bring him to life. Witherspoon’s character is just irritating from start to finish while Sarsgaard’s character seems useless. The heavyweights Simmons and Streep aren’t used nearly enough. The character development and characters in general need to be better written and are not well rounded or even that likeable.

Some of the torture scenes in which Anwar El-Ibrahimi is treated horrifically by the American government are when this film comes into its own. They are very well filmed and recreated and clearly a lot of research went into making those scenes authentic and they do, at times, become very hard to watch because we, as the audience, know that the victim is innocent.

My biggest problem with Rendition though is its genre. Thriller. Here’s a little piece of advice; you can’t call a film a thriller when it isn’t even thrilling in the slightest! A thriller, in my opinion, needs to have a mystery, it needs to have shocks and keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Rendition fails to do this majorly. There are parts of the film where it seems as though the director is trying to build up sympathy or the characters or try and give a subtle shock to the audience but it only plants the seeds for a plot twist and the seeds never really come to fruition.

When I sat down to watch the film I had read what it was about and was anticipating something very entertaining as I was impressed with the storyline and the cast but as the film grew on (from what was a very boring first half into a mediocre second) I soon came to realise that I was not watching the film I had hoped. Rendition was a let down; an anti-war film that never really takes off.

Having read around the film I know that it has its fans but I just can’t imagine myself wanting to watch it again.

My Rating: 4/10.

UK Release Date: 28th September 2012.

From acclaimed director Oliver Stone comes Savages, the story of two young marijuana growers Ben and Chon who face off against a Mexican cartel who have kidnapped their shared girlfriend.

The cast is a stellar one indeed featuring star after star. Taylor Kitsch headlines the film and despite his recent flops this one could buck the trend. Before, with John Carter and Battleship you could tell that they were never going to do that well, there was just something about them, whereas I think Savages looks a lot better than the both of them. Aaron Johnson looks almost unrecognisable as Ben, a marijuana growing graduate of the University of California. The rest of the cast has more stars in it than a pack of Milky Way Magic Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Salma Hayek, Benecio Del Toro, Blake Lively and Emile Hirsch, a fine cast indeed.

Savages is a crime thriller and audiences never get bored of the crime genre and everyone loves an exciting thriller and it looks as though Oliver Stone has captured the essence of the genres brilliant, although just a sneak peak the trailer provides great excitement and gives fans something to really look forward to.

The trailer itself introduces us to the three main characters and their unusual relationship in which the two men share Blake Lively’s character as she is the girlfriend to both of them. It is her narration that informs us who the characters are and tell us that even though she is narrating, it doesn’t mean she makes it out of the story alive (a good bit of dialogue delivered badly in the trailer, if it’s in the movie it better be more dramatic) but this provides an interesting story either way and Savages could be Stone’s next big hit!

Django Unchained is the upcoming western film from critically acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino. It is set for a Christmas release in the States and has a release date of January 18th 2013 here in the UK but so far, very little has been seen from the film. For a film that is already all but guaranteed success being a Tarantino film it is unusual that we have heard little of it; no trailer has been released and limited set photos and official photos have been seen but it is one of the films I am most looking forward to seeing in the next year and here is why:

The Story: Django Unchained is set in the deep south of America and follows Django, a freed slave who travels across America with dentist turned bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz. Together, they try to retrieve Django’s wife from the charming but sadistic plantation owner Calvin Candie and his band of ruthless slavers. It sounds like a good old revenge story, something which Quentin Tarantino has done excellently before with the wonderful Inglorious Basterds and possibly my favourite Tarantino film: Kill Bill.

The Genre: This is Tarantino’s first Western. Having dipped his toe in the action, crime, war and thriller genres he now turns his hand to this. The western is the oldest genre of film and cinema owes its heritage to the genre. However, recent westerns such as Appaloosa, The Assassination of Jesse James and 3:10 to Yuma haven’t been critical successes (despite the last two being brilliant films) and maybe the audience has grown tired with the genre as it offers nothing new really. Recently, sci-fi has taken over as the dominant genre of film in cinema but Tarantino obviously just sees that as a challenge.

 

The Cast: Regular Tarantino collaborator Samuel L. Jackson is on board (no surprises there) but in the main role is Jamie Foxx. Foxx seems to split opinion between film fans and it is obvious why, his back catalogue of films leaves a lot to be desired but he does have one Oscar win and another nomination to his name, proving that he does have the talent and Tarantino could easily get the best out of him.

Playing the villain of the piece is the phenomenal Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio started out as a young heartthrob but has developed into a fine actor and seems to get better and better with every film he makes; working with such a highly rated director could give DiCaprio the chance to win the Oscar he longs for. Playing the German bounty hunter is Christoph Waltz who, of course, won an Oscar for Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds where he put in a great performance and I think the same can be expected here. The supporting cast includes James Remar, Kerry Washington and James Russo, all well established actors themselves.

The Director: Everybody knows Quentin Tarantino and everybody on the planet should have seen at least one of his films during their lifetime. Ever since Tarantino made his directorial debut he has churned out success after success with Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. He is yet to falter in the world of film making and so that pretty much nails success to Django Unchained. Everything that he touches turns to gold and, as a big fan of the Western genre, I hope he has the same effect here. His very unique style and love for action, dialogue and story make his films a delight to watch and Django Unchained should be fantastic!

Django Unchained comes out in less than a year, spot on for Oscar contenders and you have to imagine that this would be a tactical move by Tarantino and the studio. In the build up to its release we can hope for a lot of trailers and more pictures to be revealed soon which will almost certainly raise the hype for Django Unchained.

Okay, so it’s got Orlando Bloom playing the lead role and we know he is not a good actor in any sense of the word, but just watch the trailer before you completely dismiss this film already.

The Good Doctor tells the story of a young, anxious doctor by the name of Martin Blake who has spent his life looking for respect. When he meets 18 year old patient Diane who is suffering from a kidney infection Blake gets the much needed self-esteem boost that he has been after as he takes care of her and makes her better. However, as her health keeps improving Blake becomes scared at the thought of losing her so begins to tamper with her treatment, keeping Diane sick and in the hospital with him.

This is a thriller and I think that the story line is a really interesting one and will raise plenty of questions about the seriousness of the actions that the main character takes and may even force people to question if this happens for real. Orlando Bloom, what is there to say? A storyline this good deserves an actor just as good. Unfortunately in this case it doesn’t have one and so Bloom has had to step in but in the trailer he looks as though he does an average job, and anything has to be better than The Calcium Kid.

With a supporting cast including Riley Keough (The Runaways), Wade Williams (Prison Break) and J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man) The Good Doctor could turn out to be a surprisingly decent film upon its release. I think the trailer does well to inject a sense of excitement and suspense into the audience and it really does well to portray the themes and topics that the film will put across as it deals with such sensitive and quite frightening issues.

UK Release Date: 12th October 2012.

Argo is Ben Affleck’s latest directorial feature and despite the fact that he might be better off heading down the directorial path, he is also the star of the film.

Argo is a political thriller about the rescue of six US diplomats being held captive from Tehran, Iran in 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis. The US government and the Canadian government team up to rescue the six prisoners, but how? They convince the Iranians that the six US diplomats are actually a film crew shooting for a new science fiction film called Argo. The hostages then have to escape with their fake identities.

Watching the trailer, when it becomes apparent what the plan is to rescue the hostages you might laugh and think its a little bit of a ridiculous idea, but you might change your mind when you find out that this actually happened. With stars such as Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman lining up in the cast then Argo does have the potential to be a great film.

Affleck’s previous outings as director have provided two great films; the critically praised The Town and the absolutely magnificent drama Gone Baby Gone. I think Affleck does have the ability to capture great drama on film and hopefully he will be able to do the same here and with a couple of seasoned pros in the cast, he shouldn’t have to work too hard.

Commercial success may escape Argo but critical acclaim may not be too much of a stretch for Ben Affleck once more.