*NEW* WIND RIVER REVIEW *NEW*

Tense. Breath-taking. If a little slow in places.

A veteran tracker (Jeremy Renner) helps an inexperienced FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) investigate the murder of a young Native American woman.

I love it when you go into a movie not knowing anything. All I had was the endless #WindRiver hashtags filling my Twitter feed. My curiousity peaked.

Thank God for Twitter. A riveting and well-acted thriller.

As soon as I saw, “Written and directed by Taylor Sheridan”, I knew I was in for a treat. The man responsible for Hell or High Water. One of my favourite films of 2016 (Has it really been a year, already?)

Now helming a new favourite for this year.

Jeremy Renner was brilliant. I’ve always felt he was an underrated actor.

The role of Cory Lambert was perfectly suited for him. A man desperate to keep himself to himself BUT also wanting to do the right thing.

The pace was set on the slow burner with Sheridan teasing titbits of Lambert’s past. The questions already mounting; Why the outback? Why is he so good with that rifle? Why does he have such a strained relationship with his ex-wife?

The awkward atmosphere and idle chit chat as the pair force conversation while Lambert waits for his son.

A man plagued by his own demons. Punishing himself with a life in the wilderness. That was until he discovered a body in the snow . . .

Olsen was excellent as the inexperienced agent Banner. Her arrival summed up the character perfectly as she stood in the snow ill-equipped with a trouser suit.

The only available agent in the area. Sent all the way from Nevada. BUT despite her naivety, Banner’s determination to crack the case and deliver justice for the victim sparked something in Lambert.

The Avengers duo were fantastic together. They had great chemistry and made the dynamic really work.

“We have six people covering an area the size of Rhode Island”.

Sheridan was even able to throw in some social commentary at the hypocrisy of the law enforcement.

Banner’s heated debate with a coroner spoke volumes. Refusing to class the crime as a homicide. The outcome determining how much support the FBI would provide. Mental.

Ben Richardson’s cinematography was brilliant. With one frame, he made the snowy outback look beautiful and inviting. BUT with the next; deadly and haunting.

You couldn’t hide that Neo-Western feel. The Wind River reservation nothing more than a place of a desolation full of lost souls and dangerous ones.

The isolation and loneliness being the real killer.

A simple enquiry turned into a mad shoot out with a group of small-time meth-heads. Nail-biting.

I liked how Sheridan tied in the Native American community as the Crowheart clan struggled to come to terms with the loss of their daughter.

Heartbreaking. Banner’s attempt to console the mother delivered an unsettling scene as she walked in on the poor woman cutting herself. That bleak feeling of helplessness.

BUT as much as I was enjoying the film, the case itself felt a little generic and tame. I kept wondering what all the hype was about.

That was until the final act. The last 20 minutes. Just . . . Woah. No spoilers.

Heart in mouth stuff. My grumbling was soon put on hold as everything came to a tense and exhilarating climax.

There was even a stellar cameo from Jon Bernthal that came out of the blue. Another underrated actor bossing another supporting role.

As much as I picked at the pacing, (ironically) this film could have been longer.

If anything, Wind River could have done with fleshing things out a little more. Especially with Olsen and Renner’s partnership. I loved how Banner’s presence brought out Lambert’s anguish. Finally cracking his hard shell and allowing him to share his pain. Not enough!

The sombre finale hit home and delivered some shocking statistics on the number of missing Native American women in the States.

Fans of Hell or High Water or gritty bleak thrillers will enjoy this all the same. It wasn’t perfect BUT a rewarding effort all the same.

One I actually liked (I know, I bet you’re thinking. Jeez, he picked at this and he liked it?)

3.5/5

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*NEW* THE BEST AND WORST FILMS OF 2016 REVIEW *NEW*

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First thing’s first, HAPPY NEW YEAR! A BIG THANK YOU (Look, it’s in CAPITALS) for all the views, likes and comments. You guys are alright.

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION? See more movies obviously.

Nah. Try and read more of your awesome posts!

December was a poor month for my movie viewing. Work and blah blah blah didn’t give me much time so I have yet to see Rogue One. I know, SACRILEGE. Call yourself a film critic.

I like to be awkward when picking movies. My criteria is simple. Picking 10 films I saw in 2016. So there may be a couple that you may argue are technically speaking 2015. In the words of Donnie Brasco, forget about it.

I look for films that surprised, entertained and engaged me. There have been so many films that have put me to sleep or have had me on my phone already complaining about said film before it’s even finished (Pretty much my criteria for worst films).

I picked the films that made an impression or made me laugh, cry or think. I’ve provided links for my reviews if you want a complete breakdown of my thoughts.

 

MY TOP 10 FILMS OF 2016

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It’s great when you go into a cinema expecting nothing and get rewarded with a gritty slow burning and well acted Texan noir thriller.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/new-hell-or-high-water-review-new/

 

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Vikander and Fassbender brought their fiery chemistry to ignite this wonderfully heart rending affair.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/new-the-light-be…ceans-review-new/

 

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Strange, hypnotic, gripping. After all the hype, I was afraid this wouldn’t deliver. BUT oh boy, did it!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/new-nocturnal-animals-review-new/

 

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So good that I haven’t done a review yet. I’m working on it. The Return of the King (Ba-dum-tsssh). Mortensen was superb as the father devoted to raising his six kids in the wilderness. Easygoing feel good drama.

 

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Probably one of the best Marvel movies going!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/new-captain-amer…l-war-review-new/

 

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QT is back with a tense and ultra-violent Western. It’s everything you could expect from the Pulp Fiction director and I loved every minute.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/new-the-hateful-eight-review-new/

 

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Larson deserved the Oscar for her stellar performance.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/new-room-review-new-2/

 

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Hard hitting, shocking and brilliantly acted. A must watch.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/new-spotlight-review-new/

 

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Crowe, Gosling, Black. You can’t go wrong. My review might be a little picky BUT I had the pleasure of watching this again and enjoyed it so much more.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/new-the-nice-guys-review-new/

 

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I was torn between this and Bridget Jones’s Baby (I know. Whaaattt?! It was actually pretty good) BUT I went for the HP spin-off. Redmayne was brilliant and Rowling was able to expand on the ever-growing world that has entertained me for the last decade.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/new-fantastic-be…em-3d-review-new/

 

MY TOP 10 WORST FILMS OF 2016

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Absolutely bloody dreadful. Jennifer Saunders sold out with this shambolic effort. A review will turn up eventually. BUT trust me, it’s bad. And I was a fan.

 

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As much as I love Natalie Dormer, I did not love her in this.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/new-the-forest-review-new/

 

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That creepy atmosphere couldn’t hide what was a drawn out and mind numbing disappointment. Review to follow.

 

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This unnecessary reboot was doomed from the start!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/new-dads-army-review-new/

 

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I remember rushing to the cinema wondering why it was only on for 4 days. I soon find out the answer. Yikes!

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/01/30/new-the-5th-wave-review-new/

 

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The anger. I’m sure I used a fair amount of expletives on Twitter to express my feelings on this feeble effort.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/08/15/new-now-you-see-me-2-review-new/

 

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The horror, the horror! I hated the first one and for the first 20 minutes of this, I was almost about to eat my own words BUT then it got worse.

 

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I was so excited to see this and by the end, I wondered why they brought him back. It must have been for the money because it wasn’t for the plot and character development. Bourne seemed to know less than he did before. I think I fell asleep at one point. Shame.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/new-jason-bourne-review-new/

 

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As much as I loved watching Lily James kicking zombie ass in a corset, the tone was all over the place. It failed to be scary or funny and was dreadfully dull. So dull it put me off reviewing the thing.

Well, that’s my excuse anyway.

 

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A shame that this is going to be one of Anton Yelchin’s last efforts. This failed to grab me even with Captain Picard playing a Neo-Nazi.

https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/new-green-room-review-new/

 

And so concludes my mini-review of 2016. I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the entries this year.

Disappointing comic book yarns (*Cough* Batman Vs Superman *Cough* Suicide Squad *Cough*)

The reboots, the remakes (Point Break), the unnecessary sequels (The Mechanic: Resurrection).

Let’s hope 2017 will bring us a little more joy and originality, eh?

 

*NEW* INFERNO REVIEW *NEW*

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If The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons was just the beginning, this latest offering will hopefully be the last.

When Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.

Burn baby burn. Reviewing Inferno. Burn baby burn. Moving on . . .

Funny enough, Inferno was the one book out of the Dan Brown series that I hadn’t read. After watching this, I don’t think I’m going to bother. BUT credit where its due, despite the lengthy running time, it was actually very watchable.

The opening 30 minutes had the mad page turning energy and intrigue of the novels as Langdon battled to fight his short term amnesia. The questions piling up. Those demented visions with feet in the ground and peoples’ heads twisted around. It was like something out of The Exorcist!

Apocalyptic. No, not a glimpse of Trump’s America (That’s as close as you’re going to get with satire with me).

What does Ben Foster have to do to get a good part? The minute role of the maniacal billionaire Betrand Zobrist didn’t do him justice. He delivered a memorable turn but after his stellar performance in Hell or High Water, I expected more. Anyone could have played him.

Zobrist’s theorizing on the overpopulation of the Earth was daunting stuff. Disillusioned and scared of the alarming rates of the ever-growing human race, the pragmatist takes matters into his own hands to find a cure. A plague.

Hanks always delivers and he certainly rocked the best hair do out of the trilogy. I just wish that momentum could have stuck. He does his darndest to make the history guff sound interesting BUT after 15 minutes of Dante the poet; I would have happily bribed this tour guide to shut the front door.

The lovely Felicity Jones (Soon to appear in the heavily anticipated and advertised Star Wars: Rogue One) was very good as Brooks. The doctor caught up in Langdon’s conspiracy. I thought she worked well with Hanks and they made a good little duo.

Salvatore Totino’s cinematography was divine in its own right. Capturing the picturesque Italian backdrops in all their glory. Florence has never looked so breathtaking.

The chase sequences were exhilarating (To begin with). Aided with another riveting Hans ‘Gladiator’ Zimmer score. BUT the sequences soon became repetitive and boring. A bit like the second half of the film, I’m afraid.

The anagram jumbling and endless history facts gave me a bigger headache than Langdon’s gun shot wound.

There was a couple of twists along the way which did surprise me but the path those twists took didn’t quite head in the direction I’d hoped for. If anything it made things even more far fetched. The self-explanatory flashbacks really didn’t help matters!

The drawn out finale put me into a mini coma. It went to ridiculous lengths to bring all these secondary characters to the fold (That weren’t that relevant or interesting) leaving Langdon and Brooks completely lost in the mix!

Sidse Babett Knudsen’s (Westwood) role was completely unnecessary by the closing minutes. Nothing more than a red herring. Irrfan Khan’s (Jurassic World) allusive Harry Sims had potential BUT it honestly felt like his character was in the wrong movie altogether.

Omar Sy (The Intouchables) was terrible. His acting and delivery was laughable. It didn’t help that his character was equally as weak and dull. Ana Ularu’s (Outbound) motorbike copper assassin was dreadfully bland. After I realized that she wasn’t the actress that played Tonks from the Harry Potter movies, she soon bored me.

In terms of ranking the film series, this has to be the weakest entry for me. Angels & Demons being the best. (If you’re wondering about my view on the books – The Da Vinci Code all the way!)

It started so well with a mad cryptic opening and some exhilarating chase sequences across some beautiful shot locations BUT the pace and story line soon dragged, ending with a mere whimper.

It killed the time BUT this might split the fans right down the middle. Shame.

2.5/5

*NEW* HELL OR HIGH WATER REVIEW *NEW*

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Best film of the year? Hardly BUT this is still one well crafted and brilliantly acted crime thriller. Yee-ha!

A divorced dad (Chris Pine) and his ex-con brother (Ben Foster) resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s ranch in West Texas.

A gripping opener certainly set the tone with the amateurish brothers holding two banks in quick succession. The contrast established early on between Pine’s nervous BUT calculated Toby to Foster’s volatile and reckless Tanner.

Pine (Star Trek) was a charismatic presence yet again bringing a subtlety to the troubled thief. BUT it was great to see Ben Foster (Lone Survivor) finally getting a role worthy of his talents. He lapped it up and delivered an engaging performance. You felt your loyalties tested as you loathed him with his bipolar mood swings in one scene and laughed with him in the next.

Suspenseful and intriguing as the crazy duo raced around a barren Texan landscape stealing from the very institution that was trying to steal from them. You could feel for the pair as we got a little hindsight into their fractured relationship.

The pace didn’t mess about for the first half. It jumped from one thing to the next. I was really impressed with Taylor Sheridan’s (Sicario) script. It oozed dark humour with some cracking one liners; “What colour were they? You mean their souls?” He captured a gritty Texan underworld with lively characters. A perfect neo-noir. Hookers sharking around the casino for a quick buck. The townspeople a law onto themselves.

At first glance, I could have argued that anyone could have played Jeff Bridges’ role of Marcus Hamilton. Apart from drawling out racist Native American jibes at his partner (Gil Birmingham – Twilight) and spitting feathers about his impending retirement, I was more intrigued with Hamilton’s interaction with the community.

Draining blood out of a stone as he questioned witnesses; “Yeah, I watched them rob the bank that’s been robbing me for 30 years”. Their unwillingness to help the cops (and banks more importantly) spoke volumes. Especially when the sheriff tries to take back a tip from a waitress (played surprisingly well by Katy Mixon – Mike and Molly) as evidence. A tip that made half her mortgage payment for the month.

Sheridan’s social commentary on the state of rural communities was food for thought; “It’s the 21st century and I’m racing cattle against a field of fire and I wonder why my kids won’t do this?” – a dark glimpse into the future. Ranches and farmers feeling the gloomy uncertainty of what the next generation will bring.

BUT great writing could only really come to life with talented performances, great direction from the Starred Up director David Mackenzie (He’s come a long way from Corbridge) and some picturesque cinematography by Giles Nuttgen. How could he make something so desolate look so stunning? I was even happier when I noticed the original score was penned and performed by Nick Cave.

However, the only problem with these gritty crime thrillers is that there are only ever two outcomes which made certain moments a little predictable and the promising pace did slacken in the middle act.

BUT just when I felt the momentum was dropping; the film swiftly cranked up the heat on this slow burner as a bank run went wrong. Leading to a tense, nail biting and gripping closing act. The adrenaline-fuelled police chase had me on tenterhooks.

Bridges’ character finally came into the fold (unleashing some of that Oscar winning prowess) after countless scenes of him wandering around and playing the waiting game.

The unravelling of the brother’s motives behind the robberies was actually quite clever. I loved how Sheridan encapsulated the hypocrisy of the financial system through the incompetent Loan Officer (Richard Christie). Bureaucracy at its best.

Hell Or High Water was very much in the same vein as No Country for Old Men. Just without all the cryptic metaphors. And the closing minutes. Tense doesn’t even come close. The bubbling tension and still atmosphere, aided by the mere sound of creaking oil pumps between the thieves and their fate, felt like something out of a Western. Perfect.

Film of the year? Too early to tell. BUT certainly worth your attention if you’re in the mood for a well acted gritty crime thriller.

3.5/5