*NEW* JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 REVIEW *NEW*

He’s back! But bigger and better?

After returning to the criminal underworld to repay a debt, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) discovers that a large bounty has been put on his life.

They certainly cranked the gun-fu up to 11 BUT “The Raid 2 of action movies”. I don’t think so.

The opening threw us right into the mix following straight on from the first film with our main man chasing after a motorcyclist to retrieve some medallion or something.

It didn’t really matter what he chasing after because it was all for a car. Remember the car? He didn’t actually get it back.

Does Peter Stormare (Prison Break) even realise he’s becoming a cliche of his own cliched character? Another hilarious generic Eastern European mob boss.

His comical rendition of his last encounter with the Matrix machismo was too much; “He killed a guy with a pencil. A f*cking pencil!”

The scrap yard sequence was ridiculous, OTT but it set up one thing. Old Keanu can still kick ass. It was like something out of a video game. Entrapped in a mosh pit of taxi cabs, waiting for a bigger and nastier villain to deliver the next punch.

The action set pieces were intense enough. BUT the only problem was that the first John Wick came out of the blue and revamped some of the old action cliches and made it into something different.

With the expectations a little higher, Chapter 2 didn’t quite meet up to them this time around. Don’t get me wrong, it still did the job and it is what it is.

A high octane punch em shoot em up but it still toyed aspects of Wick’s past that I wanted exploring. What was this impossible task?! Who decided these rules on territories and why isn’t Ian McShane (Deadwood) in this more?

Riccardo Scamarcio (Burnt) played the smug Santino well. Another unwanted blast from the past. Calling on an old debt to demand one last job from the Boogeyman.

Unfortunately, this was where the pace lagged for me. We had to watch Wick’s inevitable refusal and the predictable outcome that followed. Before reluctantly accepting the task at hand.

The Rome reconnaissance was watchable enough BUT the director stretched out the build up to the point that I was screaming for a shootout.

Less of the flat cryptic dialogue, more of the bang for your buck please!

For the animal lovers, the Boogeyman has a new companion in a loveable blue staffie. Does he suffer the same fate as his furry predecessor?

Well, there’s only one way to find out BUT I’m not saying.

The gun kung fu or gung-fu was brilliantly choreographed. Just when I thought certain scenes were getting a little repetitive, there would suddenly be a new creative and ultra-violent kill that had me wincing.

Stormare wasn’t kidding about that pencil!

Common (Smokin’ Aces) played a worthy adversary. I loved the camaraderie between him and Wick; “Consider this a professional courtesy”.

However, their initial (and incredibly brutal) fist fights soon went on too long and felt more like something out of the Peter Griffin vs Giant Chicken saga. Especially when they were rolling down the stairs. My God!

Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black) had potential as a mute assassin BUT never really got going. Shame.

Laurence Fishburne was not in this enough. He stole the show in his minute cameo. I was disappointed that we couldn’t get one little Matrix quote from ol’ Morpheus.

A shady friend in Wick’s desperate time of need with an alarmingly impressive army of militant homeless men.

The fiery and frenetic closing act certainly made up for the lumbering middle act. It was everything I hoped from the get go.

Relentless, violent and bloody fun. Especially when the bounty was put on Wick’s head. Everybody in New York given the green light to take out Neo.

Mental. I don’t think it would be a spoiler to say that things have been left open for another.

And despite my grumbles, I will be looking forward to the next installment.

BUT is pace and a little more exploration into Wick’s past too much to ask? Don’t make just another generic shooter.

3/5

*NEW* CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR REVIEW *NEW*

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Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr).

The mega Marvel movie franchise have really hit their stride. Gripping, action packed and possibly the best film out of the bunch.

Brilliant. It was good to see all that waiting pay off with subplots resolved, loyalties tested and great performances all round.

*HERE IS YOUR WARNING FOR POTENTIAL SPOILERS!* I DON’T THINK THERE ARE ANY BUT I’M WARNING YOU ALL THE SAME!

I’ve admitted numerous times that I had mixed feelings about the Marvel movies. I didn’t rate The Avengers BUT loved Age of Ultron. Despised the endless Hulk reboots (Even though I enjoyed the Bana version. Whaaattt? I know). Loved the Thor movies. Loved Iron Man 1 and 3. Let’s not talk about Iron Man 2, eh? Felt Captain America was rushed to fit in with the first Avengers.

Thank God for Winter Solider, one of the most underrated and unexpected surprise sequels of the year. I was relieved to hear the Russo brothers was taking the helm again to bring Cap’s third outing to the fold and boy, oh, boy, what a treat!

It would help to watch the Cap movies to really enjoy the little subplots. My little brother had barely seen any of them BUT was still able to fill in the blanks and enjoy this just as much as I did. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely made this easily accessible for the less hardcore Marvel fans while not boring the hell out of the rest of us.

We finally got to explore the background of mysterious Winter Soldier as the opening got straight to business flicking back and forth from the 90s to the present. It was great to see Sebastian Stan (The Martian) take centre stage as the conflicted Bucky as his story line came to a head with Cap’s loyalty tested to the fore. Forcing him to make a choice between his old wartime pal and his Avenger colleague:

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“Sometimes I want to punch in your perfect teeth”.

RDJ delivered a much more sombre turn as Stark. It made a fresh change as the millionaire faced some of his own personal demons as well as battling it out with his closest friends. His fractious relationship with the Cap reaching boiling point as the Avengers face disbandment after a botched mission. Evans nailed it yet again as the Cap.

You could argue that it was always going to be tough to give such a plethora of characters a chance to stand out BUT it didn’t come far off. I could have grumbled at the list of absentees; *cough* Thor *cough* Hulk *cough* Pepper Potts (again) *cough* BUT there was enough going on to make me almost forget about them. Almost.

I know the die hard comic book fans were ripping the small airport battle sequence with their own list of absentees in the mix BUT the fighting sequences were excellent. Well choreographed, fast, furious and intense. The special effects were decent. One particular highlight involving Hawkeye and Ant Man surfing on an arrowhead.

Everyone had their moment to shine. Even the newest addition Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman – Get On Up) impressed in a top heavy cast. They managed to make his slightly silly costume look badass. BUT there was one character that really took the biscuit.

I enjoyed the Maguire-Spiderman movies (Yes, even the third one. What do you mean? What’s wrong with me?) and liked Garfield’s performance BUT hated the reboot. When I heard that Spiderman was being rebooted again (Confirming my reservations about the Garfield efforts), I was annoyed. Really? Is this doomed to fail like the Hulk movies?

Tom Holland (The Impossible) . . . Well done. He may have had the cameo with the most lines BUT he stole the show and captured Spidey to perfection. I am actually looking forward to Homecoming.

I think the only characters that suffered a little and fell into the background was Jarvis/The Vision (Paul Bettany) and War Machine. Cheadle never really had a chance and wasn’t strong enough. Terrence Howard was the man for me. It didn’t help THAT Cheadle’s Rhodes was never really brought into the mix in the other movies.

Marvel have really struck a winning formula while DC continue to splutter (So far). It had a bit of everything and nailed the dynamic perfectly.

The humour was perfectly balanced against some of the more serious moments. It tied in a few loose ends that had bugged me and actually made Emily VanCamp’s (Revenge) role necessary after her lacklustre turn in Winter Soldier.

There were revelations and twists along the way. It was tense, engaging, riveting and, despite the odd niggle and the pace testing its 147 minute length, highly enjoyable. Best film of the year? It’s a strong contender.

And of course . . . persevere through the credits. Yeah, I didn’t think I needed to tell you either.

4/5

*NEW* CREED REVIEW *NEW*

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We may have seen it all before BUT Jordan’s performance packs a punch and does enough to hold its own.

The former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).

From the opening sequence, I knew Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) was the perfect choice. Prepping for a underground boxing fight in the deep Mexican underbelly. Built like a machine and punching walls to psych himself up.

Presence, charisma and charm. I knew he had the potential and Creed was the perfect platform. His back story had enough to hold its own. The boy desperate to forge his own legacy. The illegitimate son of a boxing legend. A hot head creating his own destruction.

The slow burning pace had the tendency to drag in places BUT I was still engaged as Don tried to make his own way from his tough upbringing. In and out of foster care. I felt his relationship with Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad – The Cosby Show) wasn’t explored enough. More could have made. Especially after rescuing the poor boy from a detention facility. She was only really brought back in the closing minutes after a harsh warning about following in his father’s footsteps.

The sparring sequences were done well. The little stats and figures flashing up over each boxer that Creed challenged was a good touch. Desperate NOT to use his father’s name, Don struggles to get any one to train him. That is until he gets in touch with an old friend.

Welcome back Rock. As soon as the Italian Stallion made his intro, I was hooked. Jordan and Stallone made a great duo. The usual training montages were funny and still entertained. The punching bag, the skipping rope BUT alas! NO meat punching in the freezers (Steady now) this time. Ol’ Sly’s running commentary kept things light. I was gutted after all the little nods to Rocky that he didn’t make Don drink raw eggs.

The problem was that being a Rocky fan, he was always going to steal the show. You really felt for the old boy as he sat alone at the cemetery reading the paper to Adrian’s grave. And when the Champ received some bad news, it got me a little bit. It was a fitting swansong for the iconic and ageing boxer. One of Stallone’s best performances from arguably one of his best characters. He was funny, charming and there were some genuinely touching scenes.

I liked the blossoming romance between Don and Bianca. Jordan and Tessa Thompson (Selma) had great chemistry. It was a shame that her character got pushed into the background as the film carried on.

Tony Bellew played the cocky light heavyweight champ Conlan to perfection. The perfect villain for the piece. Making money out of fighting a Creed. Despite Don only having one official fight under his belt. The fight sequences were brilliantly captured. You could hear and feel every punch. A bit of a contrast from the dated Apollo/Rocky boxing scraps. The camera angles were a little disorienting at times. You just wanted them to stay static and film the match.

Coogler did indulge in the schmaltz a little too much for the closing act. Johnson’s Rocky homage came off a little hammy. Running up a battered street with a bunch of kids on mopeds just didn’t quite have the same buzz as the famous step run. 

Some might argue that Creed is just a continuation. BUT is there any other way to tell an underdog story in boxing? If the characters are interesting enough, I’m happy to roll with the punches. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As finales go, it was a little too corny. BUT you still couldn’t help but get caught up in it. Rooting for the underdog. Yet after all that build up, the big fight was a little too quick cut and rushed for me.

Creed tied into the Rocky anthology well and was even able to make its own mark. Very much like the protagonist. BUT that wasn’t going to be hard. Come on. Rocky III, IV and V were guilty pleasures.

A little predictable and corny in parts BUT a fitting swansong from Sly and a fresh blood performance from Jordan makes this worth a watch.

3.5/5

JOHN WICK REVIEW

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Woah! If you’re looking for a half decent action flick, I’d pick Wick.

An ex-hitman (Keanu Reeves) comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Reeves’ deadpan delivery and ultra-serious demeanour have finally found its home.

This is probably the best I’ve seen him act in some time. His whispery voice, stone faced pallor and wooden delivery suited the mystery action man.

What I liked about John Wick was that it didn’t mess around. It set the premise up and got down to business. The only gripe I had about the opening was that it was a flashback. We watch Wick collapse to the floor bleeding out while looking at a video of his wife.

It wasn’t necessary and while everything else was entertaining enough, that little niggle kept reminding me that this was all a flashback. The hitman will get hit.

Wick gets the adorable little beagle within the first few minutes. And loses him with fifteen. I kid you not.

We get a sense of the isolated life that John has made for himself straight away. You could relate to his frustration and aggression quite easily. His angry test track burn out on an empty airfield demonstrated that perfectly.

I expected more flashbacks or flickers between him and his wife. Bridget Moynahan (Blue Bloods) had the easiest job going. What is it with directors giving talented supporting actresses meaningless roles? An extra could have played her part.

Now I must reiterate that this is not just a revenge movie over a dog. Apologies to the RSPCA lovers but the dog is merely a symbol of John’s love and grief. The fact he was not allowed to grieve.

That right metaphorically taken from him in the form of a bludgeoned beagle. The death was off screen and done as subtly as possible for anyone who doesn’t fancy seeing a little pup punished. So John seeks out vengeance on the idiots who thought it was funny to cross him.

If anything, it was all over a car. A Mustang. Wick didn’t want to sell and Alfie Allen’s cocky spoilt gangster brat Iosef Tarasov REALLY wanted it. What a fool. He really picked the wrong guy.

Alfie Allen (Game of Thrones) may be getting type cast at the moment with playing creeps but he does it so well. A snarly little toe rag in desperate need of a slap or two.

The mystery surrounding Wick and his past are never really explained or explored. It’s infuriating in one instance but great in another. I loved the respect and code of honour among the gangsters and assassins in this seemingly ruthless and cutthroat business.

Michael Nyqvist (The original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) was superb. A perfect adversary to Wick. His reaction when his son informs him that he has stolen from Wick. Fear, terror and anger.

The build up was just right. The gangsters preparing for battle. Wick breaking up a hidden briefcase with gold and guns under his concrete floor. You know. The usual.

The gold? Some strange currency that the assassins pay each other off with. Baffling. A gold coin here and there. No questions asked.

I like to have everything resolved. It’s not as if everything wasn’t self explanatory. BUT I wanted to know more about the underbelly and society that Wick desperately tried to escape. Not bad for a shoot em up. I actually wanted to know more about the story.

The hotel was an interesting set up. It added an extra dimension to something that should have been a bog standard actioner. The establishment even has rules. No killing without cause or authority. Mental.

There was quite a good supporting cast. Shame that some weren’t really used to their full potential. Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) was stunning as the sultry assassin out to break said rules. Ian McShane (Deadwood) was pretty much Ian McShane but played the hotel owner Winston with aplomb. I wanted more of him. Scene stealing at every chance.

John Leguizamo and Lance Reddick (Fringe) were reduced to small roles. They did their best with the parts. Reddick with his stern prowess as The Hotel Manager being a particular highlight.

Considering Reeves is 50, he can still kick an ass or two. Not quite ready for the Expendables scrap heap yet. If a Matrix reboot (Because let’s be honest, it’s only a matter of time) was ever on the cards, he could still do it.

The fight sequences were fast, frantic and furious. If a little repetitive. There are so many hand gun combinations you can do in a fight scene without them being flat out ridiculous or just tedious.

It was a lot better than I expected. Violent, brutal and mental in one instance. Mysterious and intriguing the next. The pace may dither in parts and the end result was always going to be a predictable one but I can certainly commend the writers for trying to do something a little different or at least make it worth watching.

3/5

3 DAYS TO KILL REVIEW

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It will take 3 days to kill the pain of watching . . . No, it’s not that bad. Unfortunately not that great either. Kevin Costner plays the hard man as well as he can. It’s just a shame that it’s the same old recycled clichéd action movie garbage that we’ve come to accept. By all means, it’s certainly watchable but that’s because I knew what to expect going in.

The trailer inevitably made it look bad ass but I didn’t really get what was promised. The joy of a shoot em up soon sithered away with that beautiful 12a certificate rearing its ugly head. McG has never been subtle. I mean this is the guy who brought us the Charlie’s Angels reboot franchise. And that’s also the problem, this is the guy who brought us the Charlie’s Angels reboot franchise. Credit where it’s due. Terminator Salvation was actually not that bad. Could have done with a little bit of that dark undertone in this.

We have the usual opening stake out that sets up bad guy, good guy. Costner playing a trained killer with . . . a cold. That’s right, coughing and spluttering away. Inevitably that would lead to something more important. But for an opening, I was thinking how did he kill all those bad men? Simple. They don’t show you it. Just a room with 30 dead men and Costner strolling out while blowing his nose. The cringe-inducing birthday phone call with his estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) was terrible and so corny. Doing it while people are being shot up and explosions above him. Tut, tut, tut.

Tomas Lemarquis made a great bald, I mean Bond, villain with a dark signature move. But never going to its full gory detail. After all, it was a 12a. Inevitably the stake out goes wrong. Costner loses baldy, collapsing for some reason. That reason is that he is suffering from a terminal illness. So a botched op and a dire diagnosis, not looking good for Kev. Of course, he decides to pack it in and reunite with estranged daughter after neglecting her for 15 years. But . . . oh no. He’s needed for one last job. Deal breaker. Get this. They have an antidote that will help give him more time. Aww.

Costner plays it well. You can tell at points he is just going with it. At one point, he has to write a nice big purple bike in Paris after his daughter rejects his attempts at fatherhood. Old Cossie’s face with a nonchalant shrug says it all. The alluring Amber Heard plays the mysterious femme fatale to perfection. Not enough of her in my opinion (What?). However, once you get past her beauty (Don’t judge me), you realise her character doesn’t do much. Other than look incredibly sexy and inject Mr C with the magic antidote to keep him going. All for her own diabolical plan. Diabolical in the sense that she basically got him to do her work.

Steinfeld, the talented actress that she has proven to be in the past, is incredibly annoying. Unfortunately, it’s mainly because it’s all so predictable and clichéd. Their father/daughter relationship just seems to break up what little action there is. The bickering and snipping works well, at points, but all to an inevitable cause.

Costner’s killer soon turns into a parody of himself. The jokes in which he kidnaps a contact, chucks them in the truck work at first. But then when he keeps doing it, it gets old really quick. The action is also a little lacklustre. Costner grins like a Cheshire cat. And . . . quick edit. Bodies on the floor. Only a couple of scenes where Cos gets to kick ass. And when that happens, it’s not bad. Entertaining enough. The car chase was so quick and flat. Could you really call it one?

Also what infuriated me was, understandably, Costner’s character is ill but collapsing every time he comes close to the bald baddie? Annoying. Connie Nielsen (The Following) wins Mother of the Year for leaving her daughter with an estranged father who has been unreliable and has a mysterious past. Hmmm. Cudos for Steinfeld getting the title of the movie into her lines. The tone at times, jumps from darkly comical to straight balls out (not literally) crazy. An inevitable, and much needed, shoot em up finale boosts the slackening pace.

It’s watchable guff. Nothing more. Costner has enough charisma to carry this bullet ridden mess. Amber Heard is . . . to be expected. There are some good bits but that’s the problem, it’s a film of moments. A funny one, an action packed one, etc. I thought the scenes in which a group of squatters invade Costner’s apartment was quite funny. However, they soon overstay their welcome. Shame. 2.5/5

Currently ranks 103 out of 190!

BRICK MANSIONS REVIEW

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A ridiculous remake of a furious French film that did not need to be touched.

This won’t sully the memory of an actor that left us too soon but it won’t do much to help it.

Let’s be honest, Paul Walker’s movies were hardly groundbreaking but they were big, dumb and most importantly fun. I thought he was a decent actor and loved the Fast and Furious franchise.

Brick Mansions is so incredibly stupid and OTT that you can’t help but laugh at it. A guilty pleasure. It’s the sort of film you’d expect to find in the bargain bin at your local supermarket, the kind you would sit and watch on a Saturday night with a few tins and a curry or when the lads come over. But to pay a tenner? Nah, you’re alright.

Nearly every cliché in the action movie checklist was ticked with this bad boy. The late Paul Walker and District veteran John Belle do their best with the laughable and predictable reluctant cop and criminal duo who must work together for the greater good, after lazy insults and typical fisticuffs.

In all fairness, as the film goes on, the pair manage to make the laughable lines work to their advantage and comes off quite well by the end.

RZA cannot act. It’s bad enough that his character is naff to boot but he doesn’t do anything to make the shoddy lines any better. He is so flat and robotic. Surely he couldn’t have grabbed some emotion from his rapping days? No? His only outstanding attribute being his craving for culinary excellence while unleashing hell. Problem is, not much hell is unleashed. Well, not as much as you think or hope.

District 13 and District B: Ultimatum were hardly renowned for their fantastic plot lines but how could Brick Mansions make it look like Inception by comparison. What made it was the frenetic free running sequences and the opening sequence with Belle gives us hope.

For those who have seen the originals, it literally is a rehash of the same sequence but if you were impressed, the first time round, you most likely will be again. The slow motion does kill a little of the fun. Belle’s acting leaves little to be desired as he’s grasps, well I say he, as I grasp that he’s speaking English.

Always will find it weird when you’ve watched a foreign film and then you see the actor speak English. I know, multi-cultural. People can speak more than one language. But weird, guy. Anyway, he soon gets into the flow and his acting does improve. More so when paired with Walker.

Paul Walker is to be expected, charismatic as hell and constantly poking fun at the stupidity of the movie. He manages to make it work; embracing the madness and giving it a good old go. You can tell he’s having a laugh and just accepting that this is what it is. Big, dumb, and mental.

A mental sequence in which Belle and Walker are fighting a Goliath-esque henchman has enough humour and craziness to get away with it. The action sequences, when not bogged down with droll predictable dialogue are fast paced, frantic and utterly bonkers.

A little too much quick cut editing reduces the impact as we see Walker go for a punch, then suddenly the henchman is on the floor. Just lacks that hard hitting tenacity. I mean this is Camille Delamarre who brought us Taken 2 and Transporter 3; the weaker sequel entries. Third time’s the charm? Apparently not.

However, why should Luc Besson and Delamarre care about it now when they’ve been doing this for some time? I mean they knew who they were aiming for this film. The lads. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the ladies will want to see the late Walker.

But in one scene, Belle’s incredibly raunchy and short skirted waitress gf/ex-gf (the alluring Catalina Denis – The Tunnel) gets into one of the raunchiest punch ups I’ve seen. It pretty much goes into a violent game of slap and tickle with leather clad HOT head case Ayisha Issa (Warm Bodies).

As a side note for the 24 nuts out there, I can’t believe Carlo Rota was in this. Old Maurice as a mobster. Brilliant!

I don’t know why but it felt a little close to home with Walker racing around in fast cars, crashing them into numerous objects. A scene in which he drives a car with no brakes was a little near the mark. I mean granted this was done some time ago but still . . .

A nice little tribute is tagged on before the end credits. Look, this is hardly going to win plaudits. It brings the odd laugh, cheesy banter, the occasional crash bang whallop to take your mind of the crappy dialogue.

It’s laughable and that’s the thing you can’t help but come out with a guilty grin, even if it is for the wrong reasons.

2/5 (just)

Currently ranks #143 out of 171!

GRUDGE MATCH REVIEW

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The Raging Bull vs. The Italian Stallion. Better late than never?

A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout . . . 30 years after their last match.

Two of the greatest boxing movie icons finally come face to face. In the red corner, two-time Oscar winner and mafia kingpin Robert “Jake La Motta” De Niro. In the blue corner, two-time Oscar nominee and action movie macho man, Sylvester “Rocky Balboa” Stallone. Did we get a tense ten round punch up? Or was it another hyped up dud with a shoddy KO in the first round? LET’S GET READDDDDYYYY TO REVIEEWWWWW.

Watchable if a little disappointing. De Niro and Stallone made a frankly dull, predictable and by the book boxing dramedy a lot more entertaining than it should have been. 

The opening sequence (delivered in a flashy sports feed) quickly established the pair’s rivalry. The CGI and make up actually made the leading men look like they did in the 70s. The quick 30 second boxing skits were quite convincing. We watch Henry “Razor” Sharp (the not so sharp Stallone) battling it with his greatest nemesis, Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro), both one a piece in their victories, with one final grudge match on the cards. BUT out of nowhere, Razor retires. 

30 years later and Razor (a hench looking Stallone) is still happy to forget and work at the local steel mill. While Kid (an overweight De Niro) is still living off the fame BUT unhappy about the match that never was. He may still be a unit BUT Stallone hasn’t aged well. However, he delivered some of the best acting I’ve seen him do in some time. While De Niro played the arrogant Billy with aplomb.

An unexpected reunion at a video game commercial shoot set fists flying between the retired boxers. It was hilarious watching the pair flail about like two wrinkly Buzz Lightyears in those ridiculous green suits. Inevitably, the spat goes viral and the grudge match is very much back on.

De Niro and Stallone sparred well off each other. The insults and jibes were snappy and quick witted. It wasn’t long before we discover the real reason behind their rivalry. What could possibly put two men against each other? Bingo, a woman. In the form of the lovely Kim Basinger, who still ain’t looking too bad. What? She had good chemistry with Stallone and made the cliched cheesy romance subplot a little more bearable.

The grudge match opened opportunities for the old codgers. For the Kid? A chance to appease his ego. For the Razor? Money to help take care of his old trainer. The scene stealing Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine). And once Kevin Hart was thrown into the mix, the lumbering pace picked up. I never thought Arkin and Hart would make such an entertaining duo.

For all the negative press, I expected something worse. Grudge Match was hardly original. The pace was patchy and the cliched schmaltzy guff was a little predictable BUT it was still easygoing enough and delivered the odd chuckle. Stallone’s training montage was brilliant. A perfect Rocky parody by the man himself. Struggling to drink eggs and wondering why the hell he’s punching meat in a freezer.

The fight scenes weren’t bad BUT I was left wanting by the finale. It was all build up with some promising sequences as the old boys gave it a good ol’ go. BUT it was rushed and quick cut. Whether that was to make up for the ailing actors? I’m not sure. Shame. The tone was all over the pace. The video game scrap. Good. Fighting while skydiving? OTT and stupid. The subplot involving Billy’s newly discovered son (Jon Bernthal – The Walking Dead) was wafer thin and dreadfully cliched.

A mixed bag. Easygoing enough BUT if you were expecting Motta v Balboa, you’ll be left disappointed but give ’em a break. They do their best with the material. It’s just a shame that the material was a little weak. For the boxing nuts, hang on for the credits if you want to see a proper boxing rivalry revisited.

2.5/5