*NEW* LOGAN LUCKY REVIEW *NEW*

Is this really the movie that drew Soderbergh out of “retirement”?

Meh.

Two brothers attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Ocean Eleven goes Deep South.

This had all the Soderbergh traits. The dry humour, the stylish look, the crazy characters.

I enjoyed the Ocean movies BUT always felt they were a little overhyped (Sacrilege, I know).

BUT despite the director’s best efforts and ol’ Mike trying to work his magic, this crime caper just didn’t quite work.

A real shame as I was looking forward to seeing what these guys could do.

  

What? Hehehe. Moving on . . .

The pace was a real drag. The opening 30 minutes was a real bum-number. The slow style didn’t help matters despite Jimmy’s (Channing Tatum) luck fading fast. Battling unemployment and a possible custody battle.

Tatum delivered a sterling turn and carried the film as much as he could BUT it just wasn’t enough.

I was disappointed in Jimmy and Clyde’s fraternal relationship. Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Tatum had good chemistry BUT they spent too much of the movie apart.

Riley Keough, I’m in love. What? She was heavily underused as the other (resourceful) Logan sibling.

“I know all the Twitters”.

The soundtrack was decent and the script did deliver some funny quips. Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson were hilarious as the dim-witted Bang brothers. I think the movie focused on the wrong family. Seriously, I’m not even joking.

The actual heist was okay and made for an entertaining and silly middle act. My grumbling was subdued and there were some suspenseful moments BUT it all felt a little too easy.

The strangely disjointed subplot (if you can call it that) with Sebastian Stan’s (Captain America: Winter Soldier) frustrated racer was terrible. It bared no significance to the plot and felt like a poor interlude between the heist sequences. It didn’t work for me. I would have preferred the flicking back and forth focusing on the actual protagonists instead.

Speaking of terrible? What was the deal with Seth MacFarlane’s dreadful Mockney accent? You can normally bank on the Family Guy comic to deliver the goods BUT he really got on my nerves as the pretentious British racing tycoon.

I was happy to see James Bond take a complete change in role as the eccentric Joe Bang. BUT despite a reasonable performance, Craig just wasn’t as good or as funny as I’d hoped. From the trailers, I expected something more. Wasted opportunity.

His heated debate with the Logan brothers over explosive ingredients (mid-heist) was entertaining enough.

I just wish there was more of that. Sarcastically doodling chemical compounds while making a bomb out of blue tack and gummy bears drew a titter from me.

There was too much smoke and mirrors guff that (despite preaching boredom) I was actually getting a little lost in what was going on.

BUT thankfully the unravelling of the mad robbery redeemed a real droll affair.

I knew things were getting desperate when Soderbergh threw in a cheeky Ocean’s Eleven reference to get a laugh (Admittedly it did get a guilty chuckle from yours truly).

Hilary Swank was completely wasted in her role. She literally appeared in the final act. Promising so much and giving us absolutely nothing. To be honest, her character’s frustration mirrored mine as she scratched her head at this ludicrous heist. I really hoped her hard ass FBI agent would bust some balls and pick up the tempo. BUT alas, it was not to be.

The female roles were pretty weak in general. Katherine Waterston’s (Alien: Covenant) character was reduced to nothing more than a forced cheesy romance that felt tacked on. Katie Holmes’ scornful ex wasn’t too bad BUT again more could have been made out of her.

And that’s my review in a nutshell. More could have made out of this. It wasn’t quite as gripping, funny or as clever as it could have been.

It passed the time, delivered the odd quip and had the odd moment. BUT there was something missing.

Watchable but memorable? If it wasn’t for this review, I probably would have forgotten it already. Unlucky.

2.5/5

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*NEW* SPECTRE REVIEW *NEW*

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Bond is back but bigger and better?

Well done, Mr Craig. You have finally won me over. To be honest, I loved his first outing in Casino Royale (my favourite in the Craig era). He had the charm, the one liners and the look. Ticking all the boxes. BUT Quantum of Solace delivered a much darker and angrier Bond. It was far too intense and serious for me. This had been attempted before with Timothy Dalton in A License To Kill to mixed results.

I didn’t have a problem with a darker Bond. Pierce Brosnan’s efforts (my second rated Bond) was bordering on cartoony CGI and Roger Moore territory. The Saint may have got away with it in the 70s BUT Die Another Day nearly ended it all. A game changer was needed. I respected the change BUT not the direction. It felt like they were trying to turn Bond into Jason Bourne.

However, it was the first series of Bond films that featured an ongoing story arc. Skyfall was very disappointing. For an entry that marked 50 years for the franchise, I expected something a little more. It was over hyped, overlong and if not for a surprising closing act, I would have rated this as one of the weaker offerings.

The one thing I could commend Skyfall for was the little things. The humour, Moneypenny, Q, the Aston Martin DB5. All the things that drew me to Bond in the first place. It gave me hope. Now here we are. The 24th entry of a super spy series. And boy,what a film.

The opening sequence for SPECTRE was fantastic. Slow burning, tense but action packed with a high octane helicopter sequence. As soon as Craig made his introduction, I was sold. The very pinnacle of the iconic spy. Cool, calm and slick. Casually adjusting his cuffs while donning a rifle.

Even Sam Smith’s opening theme delivered. At first listening, it sounded like a bland Eurovision track. BUT I have to say it has grown on me and really fitted the film.

It was great watching Craig enjoy the 007 status. The charisma. The debonair style. Very much in the vein of Sean Connery (My favourite Bond). Old school. Perfect. It brought something that had been lacking in the others. Humour.

I don’t want to say too much about SPECTRE as I want people to see this. BUT for the die hard fans, like yours truly, we witness the return of one of Bond’s most iconic villains. And I couldn’t think of anybody better to take on this prestigious role than Christoph Walz. He was superb. Slimy, sinister and on scene stealing form. My only gripe with his performance was that there wasn’t enough of it.

Dave Bautista was a unit. After his impressive turn in Guardians of the Galaxy, I wasn’t surprised that the former WWE star was offered the role of a Bond henchman. It was a shame that they chose to make him silent. He delivered his best impression of the Mountain from Game of Thrones. His scrap with Craig was one of the best villain fight sequences I’ve seen. You felt every punch.

For all the hype around Monica Bellucci’s role as a Bond girl (Or woman, should I say?), I was left wanting. Steady now. If anything her character was completely unnecessary. She certainly looked stunning and proved all those critics wrong griping about her age BUT her “love scene” with Craig came off unintentionally comical. Kissing while trying to talk chunky bits of dialogue didn’t work and killed the chemistry.

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However, Bond finally met his match with the feisty and resourceful Lea Seydoux. The pair’s chemistry and friction certainly kept things watchable when the pace seemed to drop.

The action sequences were brilliant. The plane chase sequence in Austria was mental. The car chase around Rome was fantastic with the new Aston Martin DB10. It was fast, frantic and hilarious as Bond battled to work out the prototype while dealing with henchmen and Italian pensioners fancying a late night drive.

What I also loved about this was how Logan brought in the rest of the team. It was great to see Ben Whishaw getting more screen time as Q. He had a much better rapport with Craig and was even brought out on location like Desmond Llewelyn used to with Connery. BUT at the expense of Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny.

She still made a made a memorable impression. Especially during a phone call with Bond mid car chase. Ralph Fiennes had a tough act to follow after Dench’s brilliant turn as M. BUT it was good to see him bring something new to the role and get in on the action.

It might help to have seen the other Craig entries BUT you won’t be too lost as Logan and Mendes briefly recap the story arc. As much as SPECTRE ticked the boxes, it wasn’t all perfect.

BEST BOND FILM EVER? Certainly not. The middle act lumbered the pace and when the action scenes had subsided and the couple were travelling, I could feel myself fidgeting after the 90 minute marker. Thankfully, things picked up when Walz was properly brought into the mix with his Dr No-esque lair.

This could have been cut by 30 minutes and been stronger for it. It was good to see a little more cheese and fun with this installment but for some it might be seen as a step down. And after 24 films, there are only so many different twists and turns that you can do with the Bond films. You can’t help BUT retread through old ground. There are only so many homages you can do before it gets repetitive.

The closing finale was fantastic and certainly left a satisfying if cryptic ending. Will Bond die another day? Especially when Tomorrow Never Dies? With the box office booming, is the world not enough?

Slick, stylish if a little overdone, Bond is back and on form. BUT better? Not quite, 007 but good enough.

3.5/5