*NEW* LOGAN REVIEW *NEW*

The BEST Wolverine movie?! Well, it didn’t have much to go up against.

He saw it and it was good.

A fitting swansong. It’s just a shame that we finally get the Wolverine spin-off we deserve when Jackman decides to hang up the claws. 17 years? Has it really been 17 years since the first X-Men movie hit the silver screen?

A franchise I grew up with (Well, a movie franchise. I’ll confess the comic books never appealed to me. Sacrilege, I know). In fact, it took me multiple watches to like the first X-Men movie BUT there was always one character that stole the show for me. Any guesses on who that could be?

Hugh Jackman is a fantastic actor but after all the hype and praise, I feared the worst for another botched Wolverine flick. Origins was a drawn out mess (Let’s not forget the Deadpool subplot) and The Wolverine was shambolic. I mean, come on! A metal samurai robot?! Really?

BUT thankfully, third time’s the charm.

In the near future, a weary Logan (Jackman) cares for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant (Dafne Keen) arrives, pursued by dark forces.

The brutally violent and bloody opener set the tone. This Wolverine had had enough. An embittered man ready to die. Done with the world and the people who live in it.

Mangold and co. really took advantage of that 15 certificate. The carnage was relentless. And let’s not forget the endless F-bombs.

BUT it also established a much more cynical and darker feel to the X-Men movies. A direction that would perfectly suit any upcoming DC movie. If they are lucky to be green lit any more.

Patrick Stewart was superb as Charles Xavier. The man who had all the answers. Lost in his own mind. Heartbreaking. I always loved the fractious relationship between him and Logan.

Never giving up on the soldier who had deemed himself a lost cause.

“I’m a glorified truffle pig” – My favourite line of the film. Mangold penned a cracking script.

I was a little anxious when I saw Stephen Merchant’s name pop up in this super-serious gritty neo-Western but the boy from Bristol did well as the albino mutant tracker Caliban. He delivered a much needed comic relief.

Boyd Holbrook was wasted in his role as the slick toothed Pierce. A gold toothed mercenary with cyber-enhancements. The Narcos star made a memorable introduction BUT he soon whimpered into the background to make way for Richard E Grant’s (incredibly weak) and slimy Dr. Rice.

I loved Mangold’s little nods. A Western to its very core. I loved the Shane movie montage sequence. Contrasting the frail and bloodied Logan to the iconic cowboy as he tried to refuse the call.

One last mission. To save a young mutant girl who was being made into a weapon. Something old Wolfie could relate to.

He soon met his match with Rice’s latest creation. NO SPOILERS HERE.

Dafne Keen didn’t do too bad as Laura. It didn’t really come as too much of a revelation about her abilities. Although comic fans will already know. I just wish the trailers hadn’t spoiled it.

Her incessant screaming and zombie stares did do my nut in at times BUT she worked well with Jackman. They made a good duo especially when they teamed up to dispose of their pursuers. One bloody corpse at a time.

John Mathieson’s cinematography was fantastic to look at. Beautifully captured. The special effects were incredible. Great action set pieces and cracking CGI.

The pace meandered by the 80 minute marker and the middle act did draw things to a slump BUT we were soon rewarded with a no-holds barred visceral action packed gore fest.

The only other niggle was that I was left with questions. The meta-textual references with the X-Men comics was a nice in-joke BUT I wondered what had happened to the rest of X-Men. No passing comments. Nothing. Gutted.

After all the time-altering in Days of Future Past, what changed? I’m trying to be as cryptic as possible without divulging too much story.

Mangold tried to make an accessible solo effort BUT I found he isolated the little things that would have polished it off for me.

BUT that didn’t spoil what was a bloody good watch. There were genuine moments where I actually felt a little tear in the eye for the Professor and his miserable protegee.

It may have taken two dreadful movies BUT we got there in the end and I don’t think any X-Men fans will be disappointed.

BUT I’ll let you be the judges.

3.5/5

*DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE CREDITS. There are no teasers or spoilers. Nothing. Just a thank you to the people who made this movie. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME*

*NEW* MORGAN REVIEW *NEW*

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Boreee-gan, more like.

Original, I know. A bit like this movie’s premise.

A corporate risk-management consultant (Kate Mara) must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being (Anya Taylor-Joy).

If Ridley Scott’s son wasn’t directing this, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see this feature as a Late Night Premiere on the SyFy Channel.

Despite an eye grabbing opener with Morgan lashing out at her carer (Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight), the film was put on the back burner with a meandering pace and mindless exposition.

Kate Mara (House of Cards) will probably be the only one to come out of this unscathed. She might have featured in some duds (*Cough* Fantastic Four *Cough*) BUT I was impressed with her performance as Lee Weathers.

The extreme pixie haircut, cold demeanour and abrupt manner made her the most interesting character out of the bunch. I was more intrigued with her agenda than meeting the sulky Morgan.

I was surprised at the star studded supporting cast involved; Brian Cox, Narcos’ Boyd Holbrook, Toby Jones and Michelle Yeoh. A shame that none of them really made an impression.

Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones) wasn’t too bad as the eccentric behaviour therapist and delivered a decent American accent. The only problem was that she wasn’t in it enough.

“Morgan’s not a she. She’s an it”.

I was happy to allow the pace to trundle along if the film went somewhere BUT for an hour, we had existential waffle, followed by more existential waffle and then . . . You get the idea.

The whole thing was a poor man’s Ex Machina. I’d seen it all before and done better. We had the same debates about defining humanity, action and consequence, cause and effect. Yawn.

I was NOT a fan of The Witch BUT thought Anya Taylor-Joy delivered a good turn. The same can be said with this. She did the best she could with the character BUT I was just wasn’t emotionally invested like I was with Alicia Vikander.

The corporate angle had potential as the scientists exchanged heated debates over artificial intelligence and profit BUT it never really took off.

“This is not Helsinki. Those were crude prototypes.”

What happened in Helsinki? All we had were endless references to an incident that was never expanded on or explored. This was the only loose thread I wanted to know about? Was there a failure? Did they go Westworld on them? What?!

The pace dragged and all the science-y stuff about Morgan didn’t do anything to help.

Within a month, she was a walking and talking biologically advanced toddler. Within a year, she could control and alter her environment (Why couldn’t we see any of that?). By the age of five, she was  . . . a sulky pale looking teenager in a hoodie. Riiiiggghhhttt.

The creepy Silence of the Lambs vibe was engaging enough as Weathers and Morgan had their intense stare-off and the game of cat and mouse began. The questions piling up. Is Morgan sentient? Is she aware of her abilities? If she can do all these things then why the hell is she sitting in a cell?

Taylor-Joy delivered a masterstroke with the expressions. She looked scary and sincere in the same instance and things (finally) picked up when Paul Giamatti’s Dr Shapiro arrived to perform a psych evaluation.

There was genuine suspense and tension as Shapiro bated Morgan. Questioning her motives and emotions. Goading her to react. A ticking time bomb. I could have watched a whole movie of just that.

The last 20 minutes seemed to realise it was clasping at straws and cranked the pace up to 11 with a frantic, violent and rushed finale.

The only problem was that with this sort of story line, there was only ever going to be two outcomes which made the end result pure predictable hokum.

Once you took away the tension and philosophical sparring, you had something very much like the protagonist; a cold pretty looking effort.

Mark Patten’s cinematography certainly made the idyllic setting surrounding The Facility like a country paradise BUT if Ex Machina hadn’t beaten Scott and co to the punch, this may have fared better.

BUT only ever so slightly.

Despite a talented cast and a mad dash finale, this was tragically flat and disappointing.

Watchable guff BUT nothing to shout home about.

2.5/5

RUN ALL NIGHT REVIEW

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Sleep All Night, more like.

Liam Neeson does what he does be- . . .

A shame that this talented actor is now reduced to playing the same old tired role.

Two stars for two ageing stars who do their best to put a little Hollywood grit on this overlong, by the numbers action movie.

It wasn’t all bad but it wasn’t all that great either.

I seem to be saying this a lot lately but a lot of the films I’ve seen recently are making the same piddly mistakes.

So what’s it all about? Mobster and hit man Jimmy Conlon (Liam Neeson) has one night to figure out where his loyalties lie: with his estranged son, Mike (Joel Kinnaman), whose life is in danger, or his long time best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris), who wants Mike to pay for the death of his own son.

The first 30 minutes didn’t really get things going.

It was the inevitable “build up” with all the schmaltzy back story and predictable bilge before the pow pow, ka boom!

I could feel my eyes wavering at the big hand on my watch.

However, I did like the fact that writer Brad Inglesby tried to do a slightly different spin on Neeson’s tired fighter.

A man truly scraping the bottom of the barrel. Relying on an old reputation and being best friends with the head mafioso just to get scraps.

Neeson certainly does his best to keep things watchable.

Ed Harris was everything you could expect. Menacing, brooding, perfect for the role. I just wish Inglesby had given him some better lines.

Joel Kinnaman actually didn’t do too bad a job. He actually came off a lot less wooden than his disastrous turn as Robocop.

It’s just a shame that his character is so flat.

Boyd Holbrook played the sleazy mob son quite well. I was a little gutted that his character got struck off so early on BUT then there wouldn’t have been much of a film otherwise. (Well, there still wasn’t).

GEEK SIDE NOTE: Holbrook featured alongside Neeson in A Walk Among The Tombstones

Kinnaman’s little relationship with his “boxing protegee” Eric (Devon O’Brien) seemed forced and was a little unnecessary. Desperate to add a dimension to Michael’s character.

If he didn’t have vital evidence, Eric’s character would have been useless.

Kinnaman proved he could do the action scenes and do them well. The sequence in which he evades capture from Holbrook was frantic, tense and riveting.

It was just irritating that he then had to take the back seat for Neeson.

Neeson’s Jimmy tells him not to fight or shoot. Or else he’s no better than him. Great in the sense of feeble parenting. Better late than never. BUT terrible when you’re watching an action thriller!

Martin Ruhe’s cinematography was something else. Brilliantly shot. The cityscape at night was something to behold.

The flicking back and forth across the city was a little disorienting though.

And the “metaphorical” thunderstorm (Well, literal thunderstorm) as Neeson signs his own death warrant was cheesy as hell.

Neeson and Hardy were fantastic together. The scene in which they confront each other in a cafe may have been a desperate stab at Heat but it worked for me.

I wished for a little more of that.

However, we did finally get a little more action as the gruffly gangster must stop his son from being . . . TAKEN! Yeah, I said it.

I thought the fight sequences should be commended. Unlike Taken 2 and 3, we actually get to see Neeson throw a punch and hit someone.

They may have absolutely ridiculous. No kidding. Neeson must have hit every foe with any random object he could find from metal toilet roll dispensers to fiery table legs.

You read that right. Fiery table legs. Neeson and Common (Hell on Wheels) were mano y mano with two sticks of fire.

Stupid but fast and furious.

The car chases were relentless. The first person camera work reminded me of the classic car movies. It had the same nostalgia that I felt when I watched The French Connection for the first time.

Common didn’t too bad as the relentless hitman but then again he didn’t have to say a lot.

What annoyed me was that for every positive, there were a dozen negatives.

The predictable and cliched bickering between Mike and Jimmy was terrible. Typical father/son spattering. At least they were able to bury the hatchet to dispense of some baddies. Take note, Die Hard 5!

It infuriated me that Mike still wouldn’t allow Jimmy in the same room as his family after saving his life several times in one night.

BUT have no fear, it all ends oh so predictably and cornily which killed off any momentum that the film finally seemed to build up.

At it’s best, violent, frantic, a beauty to watch. At it’s worst, hammy, overlong with that fearful question; “Is this all that Neeson is going to do now?”

Taken 4: A Fool? Not quite. Give it a go. It’s not all bad. BUT there are so many better ones out there.

2/5