*NEW* SILENCE REVIEW *NEW*

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Silence was probably the best reaction I could muster after this arduous affair.

Two priests travel to Japan in an attempt to locate their mentor and propagate Catholicism.

There were moments where I felt I was being tortured with the priests and NOT in a good way (If there is a good way).

I’m a fan of Scorsese. Who isn’t? (If you’re not, get out of here!) Goodfellas, Casino, Shutter Island, Taxi Driver, the list goes on. We all have our favourites.

BUT his latest foray into religion left me a little numb and downtrodden.

This may have been a long term project finally coming to life BUT I found myself befuddled and lost in what the movie maestro was trying to do.

The strong opening sequence certainly grabbed my attention. The sound of crickets getting louder and louder until . . . NOTHING . . . Silence. The credits rolled. An air of unease as figures shifted around the foggy marshes.

The fog cleared to reveal crucifixes. The tone was set. My curiousity peaked. Cue the most challenging three hours of my life.

Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography was hauntingly beautiful. In one shot, he could make a dilapidated village look desolate and deadly to warm and inviting. A masterstroke.

The first act was slow BUT engaging as Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson) was forced to watch the torture of his own clergymen. His grim voice over describing every detail.

It was brutal as the priests had their bodies scolded with hot spring water. To stop the punishment; all they had to do was denounce God by stepping on a face plate of Jesus.

I felt Silence had a hint of Heart of Darkness with Ferreira’s whereabouts unknown (Yes, an absent Neeson. Disappointing). Only whispers in the wind suggesting his demise with some even saying the priest had abandoned his faith and taken refuge with the Japanese.

Andrew Garfield was fantastic as the naive Rodrigues. Refusing to believe the gossip and desperate to seek the truth. I don’t think I would have been as interested if he wasn’t at the helm. He carried the piece.

I was constantly on edge throughout the film. The unease and suspense was executed perfectly. All the secrecy and creeping around for two priests to deliver Midnight Mass. The villagers hiding in the dark. Afraid to announce their faith.

The silence was unsettling. Scorsese created a tranquil and haunting atmosphere. By the first hour, I was surprised to still be absorbed in this story as the priests hid under the floorboards to evade capture from The Inquisitor (Issei Ogata).

I loved the little nods to Akira Kurosawa. The influences were everywhere from the camera shots to the set design.

Jay Cocks (Don’t laugh. Come on now) and Scorsese penned a fantastic script. There were some great bits of dialogue. I haven’t read the Shusaku Endo novel so I don’t know how much of that praise goes to the author.

Adam Driver was surprisingly good as Garupe. I’ve only really known him as the loud mouth who loves sex and nachos in What If or the sulky emo Sith from Star Wars. He made a great duo with Garfield.

However, the middle act was where Scorsese should have trimmed the fat. It could have been cut by a good 40 minutes and this was where the problem began for me.

Ogata’s strangely eccentric and bizarrely camp performance as Inquisitor Inoue was a mixed bag for me.

His religious sparring with Rodrigues was brilliant. Two stubborn figures debating their cause and defending their faiths. BUT as they tackled these strong themes, beliefs and values, I could feel my attention waning.

The endless torture sequences were relentless as the Japanese continued to punish any self-proclaimed Christians and their loved ones. The agonising length and exhaustive monologuing soon had a cathartic effect.

I was disappointed when Rodrigues and Garupe split up to spread the good word. Driver’s absence was missed. Their dismal reunion was too rushed and abrupt for my liking.

Kichijiro’s character (Yôsuke Kubozuka) infuriated me. The cowardly villager that continually betrayed Rodrigues. Only to return to confess. I knew where I would have told him to go.

BUT if anything, he encapsulated the hypocrisy of the confession. As if being granted forgiveness by God would make up for his treachery?!

Tadanobu Asano was delightfully smug as the Interpreter. Toying with Rodrigues as he faced trial for his faith. Laughing at the priest’s belief. Knowing that resistance was futile.

The final act was tense, gripping and hard going as Rodrigues finally discovered Ferreira’s demise.

The film really put me through a rollercoaster ride of emotions BUT I can’t honestly say I enjoyed it. I considered seeking the novel for answers BUT I felt drained.

It was a daunting affair that certainly lingered long after my viewing BUT for the right reasons? Or just for the sheer disappointment?

Silence will determine the die hards from the Scorsese fans. If you fancy a completely different tone and direction with a fantastically acted religious drama, then this may be for you.

BUT anybody else may find this a testing effort that will lose you along the way.

Me? I’m still some what in-between.

2.5/5

*NEW* IN THE HEART OF THE SEA REVIEW *NEW*

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Thar she blows. Yes it did. A meandering pace and shoddy CGI made this star studded odyssey sink faster than it’s aquatic antagonist.

A recounting of a New England whaling ship’s sinking by a giant whale in 1820, an experience that later inspired the great novel Moby Dick.

It was an experience. The opening didn’t really get things going with Ben Whishaw’s (SPECTRE) Melville bribing Brendan Gleeson’s (Gangs of New York) drunken sailor Thomas Nickerson for the story of a lifetime. Good actors playing dull characters that were merely narrative devices. Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones) was completely wasted in her role as Nickerson’s wife.

The first hour was a mind numbing affair. The pace was agonizingly slow. The drama was far too tame and the accents were terrible. I know they were supposed to be from New England. BUT the mish/mesh of English and American just didn’t work. 

I had full confidence in Chris Hemsworth playing the charismatic first mate Owen Chase BUT the ridiculously cliched introduction with him bidding farewell to his pregnant wife (Charlotte Riley – Edge of Tomorrow) was nauseating. And another waste of an actress.

There was potential in Benjamin Walker’s George Pollard. The captain born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Assigned to Chase’s crew through family ties. Simmering tension that went nowhere. Hemsworth and Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) worked well together and made a formidable pairing. I didn’t realise how much Walker looked like a young Liam Neeson and he did have a particular set of skills. BUT things only really picked up when ol’ Moby made her introduction.

Creeping up like Orca the whale. The first attack was tense and nail biting. And for the next 20 minutes, my grumbling ceased. Howard crafted some much needed suspense as the relentless beast picked off each lifeboat one by one with a flick of her giant tail fin.

As much as I was engaged (at last!) with the action, I was soon put off by the horrific CGI. It was scarier than the creature itself. The white whale looked more like a painter’s radio. It was dreadful to look at. I was more afraid (And still am) of the mechanical monstrosity that was Jaws than ol’ Moby. Even when bodies were falling into the sea and the ship was falling apart, it was far too cartoony. A real eye sore.

Hemsworth (Thor) carried this as much as he could BUT the characters were so weak, bland and unmemorable. Tom Holland (The Impossible) delivered an underwhelming performance as a young Thomas Nickerson. He wasn’t strong enough. I know that he was playing a young sailor on his first voyage BUT if this lad is supposed to be the next Spiderman than I’m going to need more convincing. Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later) was probably the only other crew member worth giving a mention to. Until he was pushed into the background. Shame.

The idea of being stranded at sea for 30-odd days with a whale waiting to pick you off sounded great on paper. BUT this effort only managed to deliver in parts. The plot did take a dreadfully bleak and darker turn. Especially as the men were facing starvation. The inevitable mutinies and plotting soon on the cards.

When the CGI wasn’t ruining it, Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography was beautiful to look at. Probably NOT the best thing as I was thinking of going on holiday more than wondering whether the characters would survive or not.

I’m normally a huge fan of Howard’s work. He was even managed to make the madness that was The Da Vinci Code enjoyable BUT somehow this latest offering just didn’t do it for me. It was disappointing.

It was far too patchy and didn’t have conviction to be a poignant sea faring yarn or a monster movie. The moral standpoint and grandiose speeches in the closing act really did hamper the whole thing. The conflicts with nature was only really touched on with the hunting sequences. More could have been made out of the meddling shareholders as an inquiry was held into the attack on the Essex.

BUT like the ocean waves, my interest went up and down. A missed opportunity. A black spot on Mr Howard’s impressive filmography 😉

2.5/5

TED 2 REVIEW

I wasn’t quite picking up on those good vibrations with these funky bunch of gags, Marky Mark.

The filthy mouthed fluffster is back. BUT better?

“OH MY GOD, DÉJÀ VU!” You got that right. Too much of the same isn’t always a good thing.

I loved Ted. I thought it was a return to form from MacFarlane. Family Guy has been spluttering along for some time. The better days long behind it. A bit like The Simpsons, really. Then there was the misfire that was A Million Ways to Die in The West. Watchable at best.

Ted was crude, OTT but funny. I hadn’t laughed so much in quite some time. Wahlberg and MacFarlane made a great pairing. Inevitably, it fared well and a sequel was soon green-lit.

So here we are. It’s not all bad. When it’s funny, it’s good. BUT that’s the problem, when it’s not; it’s drawn out, repetitive and boring.

MacFarlane did exactly what he’s done for the last few seasons of Family Guy. If the jokes are running low, go for flat out disgusting or just something random and weird.

So what happens this time? Newlywed couple Ted (MacFarlane) and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) want to have a baby, but in order to qualify to be a parent, Ted will have to prove he’s a person in a court of law.

Ridiculous. I heard some people say. BUT a talking bear smoking a bong and fornicating isn’t?

I found Barth a lot more likeable this time round. I couldn’t stand her in Ted. She was irritating and her voice was nauseating.

Her shouting match with Ted (That went on far too long) didn’t set up high hopes BUT she had (I can’t believe I’m writing this) good chemistry with the bear. It may have been schmaltzy but it added an layer to her Boston skank.

I mean the story line was never going to be the focal point of this film. Although MacFarlane did give a reasonably nice explanation for Mila Kunis’ absence (I know. I was gutted too).

Instead, we had Amanda Seyfried (who more than held her own). She clicked with Wahlberg for their inevitable coupling and certainly wasn’t afraid to take some jibes from the fluffy fiend. Seriously, the Gollum jokes. I was in stitches.

There were a number of old and new faces BUT surprisingly they were all a little dull. Sam J. “Flash Gordon” Jones was completely unnecessary and just did the same old thing to much more disappointing results.

Regular MacFarlane stalwart Patrick Warburton’s repressed gay man was a good recurring joke in the first one. Now he’s “out” with his demented partner in tow. It just wasn’t funny. Beating up nerds in a Comic Con event? Is that the best he could do? The only titter I got was Warburton’s costume choice.

And Giovanni Ribisi’s Donny made another return. A desperate move? There was only a couple of titbits that got a little laugh. His appearance did get a little more relevant as the film carried on BUT it was the same old guff just in a different setting. Sigh.

I really hoped the new faces would provide a little more. They played it much too seriously and didn’t bring anything to the mix. John “Mad Men” Slattery, the slick silver haired Sterling was surprisingly unmemorable. Anyone could have played him. And Morgan Freeman. It was just a lazy excuse to hear his beautiful dulcet tones waffle through some mindless exposition.

The court scenes went on far too long. If it wasn’t for Ted’s one liners, I would have been in a mini coma. Ted and John (Wahlberg) were still very much on form (Thankfully). Their stupid banter, drug induced theorizing and stupid escapades delivered yet again. From Ted’s TV theme song improvisation to John’s sperm lab incident.

Disgusting, cringeworthy but oh so funny! Where was this throughout the rest of the film? I thought this was supposed to be a comedy?!

Okay, the Google theory about how everything is two clicks away from taking you to a web page of a man’s appendage was typical MacFarlane but it got me!

However, the sequences in which Ted was looking for a sperm donor were very hit and miss. Despite John’s lab incident delivering a cracking Facebook slogan gag; MacFarlane and co. soon tooks things too far with the dimwitted duo seeking “super semen” from a renowned American sports celebrity. It was just weird. Talk about overkill.

A Liam Neeson cameo involving a simple purchase of kids cereal was unexpected but brilliantly done! BUT then we had the running length filled with endless bong and smoking weed gags. They got old really quick. Come on, even Seth Rogen is trying to break away from that old spiel. Trying.

Wahlberg tripping out once. Hilarious. Two or three times after? Meh. There was one scene that got me and all it needed was the iconic score of a prehistoric masterpiece. “Breakfast Clubbing” in the lawyer library however? Not so much.

It’s certainly watchable but just wasn’t even on the same level as the first one. I wasn’t even trying to make comparisons but when the gags were sparse, I found time to. MacFarlane chucked in his relentless musical song and dance numbers yet again and if anything they hampered the film. Seyfried has a lovely voice but I came for Ted not Les Mis.

It relied heavily on retreading old story lines and gags to pick up where the film couldn’t. Shame. Plus there were several clips I saw in the trailers that got my interest and didn’t even feature in the film.

The fiery fluffbag has enough in his stuffing to kill the time BUT you may be left wanting.

2.5/5

ENTOURAGE MOVIE REVIEW

 

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The boys are back but bigger and better than ever? I can answer that in one simple word.

VICTORY!

My mates were always going on about this show. 8 series and a Golden Globe. It must be doing something right. With trailers for the movie popping up left, right and centre, I thought let’s give it go.

4 series boxsets later and I’m hooked. It’s not as if viewing the series is a MUST for newbies or non-Entourage fans. BUT what I love about Entourage is that it is so easy to get into. A simple premise. Four friends trying to make it in Hollywood.

You get a sense of the guys within the first few minutes. There are a few in-jokes from the series and recurring characters that do pop up (Thank you Mr Ellin) that might skim over the heads of the noobs. BUT you can still connect the dots.

It got straight to business and it felt like they never left. The only difference is that Turtle isn’t fat. The lads were on form. The celebrity cameos are endless. The story . . . Well, let’s forget about that, shall we?

So what happens this time? Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), together with his boys Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny (Kevin Dillon) are back in business with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) on a risky project that will serve as Vince’s directorial debut.

Just when things seemed to be going so well. Vince has to put a spanner in the works yet again. Over-spending budgets, inflating costs, manic financiers. This won’t be a walk in the park.

Grenier played Vince with aplomb but, this time round, he seemed to be very much in the background. Strange considering he is the main focal point. BUT how many times can we watch him pull crazy hot models? This time, it’s none other than the Blurred Lines music video pin up Emily Ratajkowski.

Turtle’s love story with Ronda Rousey may have seemed like filler to break up the main story line but the pair had enough chemistry to make it watchable. I haven’t really rated Rousey’s acting in the past but the MMA maestro won me over. She even stole my heart. Maybe because she was able to let her guard down and poke fun at herself. A misunderstanding with Turtle at a dinner date leads to him making the ultimate apology in the Octagon. Brilliant.

Dillon. Ah man. He was always the scene stealer for me as Vince’s half brother Johnny Drama. Forever lurking in his shadow. Desperate to make his own mark. Will Drama have his day? His one liners were snappy. His warped outlook on life and crazy face pulling delivered the laughs yet again.

Connolly finally got to lighten up as Vin’s moody manager E. The will-they-won’t-they? rift between him and Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui) seemed a little old hat (For old and new fans). Mainly because you always knew what the outcome was going to be. I was a little annoyed with E’s subplot because more could have been made out of it. A few crazy flings led to an incredibly awkward lunch date (Without spoiling too much) but it was resolved way too easily for my liking.

BUT there is one character. One monstrous personality that the guys would always fall short to every time. The man, the legend. Ari Gold. Piven was perfect. The guy must be tapped. Fiery, frantic and flipping mental. Every time he was involved, sh*t went down! His put downs, his tantrums, his banter with E. I was in stitches. His breakdown during a therapy session (Another one?!) had me howling!

His ongoing battles with movie stars, writers, studio heads and executives were always the biggest highlights for me. And after 8 series, you’d think it would be getting old. BUT nope! They still got it.

The cameos were crazy. It really is a case of blink and you will miss them. Anything from Liam Neeson’s sardonic drive by, Arnie Hammer’s pyscho greeting, Kelsey Grammer’s miserable marriage counselling to Pharrell Williams. The list goes on.

I couldn’t believe Billy Bob Thornton and Hayley Joel “I can see freakin’ dead people” Osmont were in this as Ari’s crazy Texan film financiers. Osmont has grown up (Obviously). Big, bearded and a bad ass. He was a real piece of work in this. Bravo. Not enough of Thornton for my liking in a rather subdued role.

The claims of Entourage being a sexist fantasy was a little much. Had people forgotten that despite Ari’s outrageous ego, his wife Mrs Ari (Perrey Reeves) still rules the roost. Constance Zimmer’s Dana Gordon is in a highly influential role in the business that Ari desperately needs. An area he never could crack.

The girls, the cars, the mansions. It’s nothing I wouldn’t have expected from the four guys from Queens. It’s not as if the ruthless side of the industry wasn’t highlighted in Ari’s endless confrontations with the boards, stars and agents.

It was never thought-provoking drama. It was always an easygoing glossy comedy with celebrities poking fun at themselves. Some might say lazy, pretentious even. BUT I thought it was fun. It really was just a feature length episode. And one of the better ones.

I liked all the little references and a return of a fan favourite *COUGH* LLOYD! *COUGH* (No, not Billy Walsh. Thankfully that mad cretin was very much in the background) Rex Lee was back and on fire as he gets ready for his big day. In the words of Ari, “OH GOD!” Also, no spoilers but do hang on during the credits for a little treat.

The film certainly wasn’t perfect. The plot was wafer thin and things did get a little too serious in the middle slackening the pace of what had been a snappy comedy. Emmanuelle Chriqui wasn’t in it enough (What? I liked her character) BUT it was everything I’d hoped. An absolute riot.

A side note to the fans, it seems to be all wrapped up. BUT I’m still not quite ready for it to go. It would be a major VICTORY if Ellin would consider a sequel. And if they stay at this standard, more please!

3.5/5

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

TAKEN 3 REVIEW

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Taken the p*ss, more like. Hopefully it will end here.

I made the mistake of listening to a critic when the first one came out. I ended up seeing Shrooms. Remember that? If you don’t, you’re lucky. And DO NOT bother checking it out.

When I finally got round to watching the first Taken film, I was impressed. A proper action movie. Iconic dialogue, intense action sequences and a welcome return for a very talented actor. Instant cult status achieved.

The only problem with instant cult success and a shed load of money at the box office, it meant meant one thing. SEQUELS!

Taken 2 was a poor retread of the exact same story line. Only in a different city and with Maggie Grace’s irritating Kim having to save Mills. NO!

It didn’t help that the static camera work didn’t show any of the action properly and the dialogue was that hammy, I felt myself cringing.

So, here we are. Third time’s the charm? A reprieve to end the franchise with a fiery finale?

Unfortunately not. They should have left it at the first one.

The trailers piqued my interest and with Forest Whitaker taking the helm as the relentless pursuer, I had hope.

That was soon crushed after the drab opening sequence.

So what happens in this one? Ex-government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.

Where to begin? It was a mess. I know! It’s an action movie. Not a thought provoking, mind bending thriller. BUT still . . .

A feeble attempt at mystery came off flat and dull as Sam Spruell’s “menacing” villain (with a ridiculous Lloyd Christmas haircut) disposed of some unknown secondary characters.

Dull, uninteresting . . . where’s Liam Neeson?

We are then pulled through some awful and incredibly cheesy exposition between Bryan and Kim. It’s obviously become a joke. BUT a joke that was never funny in the first place.

I could feel my very being sinking into the seat.

Then we had the inevitable “Will they, won’t they?” spiel with Famke Janssen and Neeson. You would have thought after all their “mishaps” (two violent kidnappings that destroyed two cities) that they would have got back together.

No, no, no. She’s gone and married another moronic businessman. Dougray Scott nailed the accent but was terrible as the suspiciously shady looking Stuart.

However, it soon kicks off. Rather predictably if you’ve seen the heavily flogged trailers with Mills set up for murder and on the run.

One thing I will commend is Eric Kress’ cinematography. A beautiful sunny Hollywood gloss over the relentless, unnecessary and OTT carnage.

Olivier Megaton really needs to fire his editing team; Audrey Simonaud and Nicolas Trembasiewicz. The action was way too fast and far too frantic.

The very sequence in which Mills must run from the scene of the crime was disorienting. One second, you’re looking at Neeson’s foot, his shadow, an angry dog and then a confused police man.

It felt like it was overcompensating for the fact that Neeson is too old.

It pains me to say that but the poor guy look jaded. Every time the sporadic shot swapping subsided, you could see he was struggling to keep up with the pace and the frantic fist fighting the film desperately tried to deliver.

He did his best to add his gruffly gravitas to this disaster but even his performance felt like a parody of his own. He doesn’t even say the iconic line properly, “I have skills. You know what I can do with them”.

To me, it felt like “You know what I’m going to say, you can fill in the blanks”.

A shame. What annoyed me even more was the fact that he suddenly breaks into a house, finds a garage containing an old truck which is conveniently hiding an escape route to the sewers that leads to Bryan’s hidden factory fortress complete in emergency supplies.

WHAAAAT?!

I thought switch off. It’s just a dumb action movie. Forest Whitaker is here. He’ll do something good.

He pretty much plays Lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh from The Shield. At first glance. BUT he does absolutely nothing.

While Mills is running around aimlessly, punching people left, right and centre. Whitaker is scoffing bagels, flicking an elastic band around his wrist (for no reason) while fumbling about with a chess piece (Steady now) in his pocket, looking confused.

What a waste of a talented actor. All he does is relay the information we all know. The plot isn’t that complicated or that interesting for that matter!

In fact, it’s bloody bonkers. Mills makes more elaborate and unexplained escapes than Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes!

He escapes a car that we saw him drive down an exploding lift shaft that seemed to blow up a whole car park complex. And somehow manages to hide behind a rock despite seeing his car rammed off a cliff and rolling into a fiery blaze.

A crappy flashback makes no explanation or sense to his miraculous Houdini acts.

I also felt my loyalties divided with Mills. I used to route for the big guy BUT I felt myself scratching my head at his logic. He kills and injures dozens of coppers. He throws grenades in a school. And even causes a ridiculous police chase that was completely unnecessary.

Mills finds evidence that proves his innocence. Does he tell the police or show them? No! He lets them take him in for questioning. Changes his mind. Only to cause a highway pile up with heavily used CGI cars flying all over the place.

Time to let old dogs lie.

I think it’s time for Neeson to get back to what he did best. Acting. This affair offered no cool dialogue, no baddies of any merit, by the book action sequences with no memorable moments to recollect and . . . hammy vomit inducing exposition.

Olivier Megaton, I don’t know where you are. BUT I have a particular set of skills. If you dare make another, I will find you . . .

1.5/5

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES REVIEW

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Or Taken To The Grave? Liam Neeson uses his particular set of skills. No, wait! His acting skills (Remember them?) and his gravelly gravitas for the hardened private eye thrown into the seedy underworld of a 90s New York City.

A return to form for the reformed action hero in a suspenseful, if drawn out, gritty neo-noir. If you’re expecting another Taken, then you may be left disappointed.

Now I loved Taken (the first one) and it was great to see Neeson back in the limelight. But I was afraid that he was going to be typecast in the action role indefinitely. Non-Stop (Taken on a Plane) proves my point. BUT I’ll always commend Neeson for Schindler’s List and Rob Roy.

However, Neeson plays the part to perfection. A grisly Philip Marlowe. To be honest, the 90s setting didn’t really provide anything additional to the film. Other than the fact he uses old computers in libraries and payphones. I don’t really believe in the whole “Based on True Events” spiel. Not since Fargo and every horror film for the last decade.

So what’s it about? Private investigator Matthew Scudder (Neeson) is hired by a drug kingpin (Dan Stevens) to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife.

Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) is really starting to make a name for himself and plays the part well. But to be honest, his character was a little weak and didn’t really do much until the closing moments.

Astro (Earth to Echo) played Neeson’s homeless sidekick well and the pair worked well together. Some will find his character incredibly irritating and their “bonding” conversations completely unnecessary and unsuited to Scudder’s loner.

At least we won’t be as annoyed as Ruth Wilson (Luther) whose part was completely removed from the film to make Scudder more of a loner. All she has attached to her name is a credit. And yet Astro made the cut? Strange.

However, the real scene stealer and adversary to Neeson’s Marlowe was David Harbour (End of Watch) as the maniacal killer. He was brilliant and sinister as hell. His creepy voice delivery was memorable enough. Olafur Darri Olafsson (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) also made a memorable role as the strange but morally torn middle man.

My main quip with A Walk Among The Tombstones was the length. A zippy opening with Neeson doing what he does best was soon put on a slow boil. The story tries its best to keep you hooked but there isn’t enough to justify the running time.

The story barely scrapes the surface of the sordid underbelly that these dark antagonists lurk from. There are creepy and suspenseful moments and Neeson certainly carries the film but despite all its promise; Mihai Malaimare Jr’s grainy noir-esque cinematography, Neeson’s snappy one liners and Harbour’s menace, it falls short of your expectations.

The story line meanders along with the surprise abduction and punch-em-up from Neeson but it’s all a little by the book. Endless red herrings with leads that go nowhere slowing down and killing what mystery and suspense was brewing.

The finale was certainly tense and made up for the meandering middle act but it was all so predictable. I was little disappointed that it had to go for a big fist fight and shoot em up to keep in and bank on Neeson’s resurged action hero fame.

The first hour was engaging, tense and slow burning but we got to see Neeson do what he does best . . . Act. Don’t get me wrong, there were some decent punch em up moments that Sam Spade would be proud of but it seemed to run out of ideas, go on a bit too long and then end with a big action number to stop bums fidgeting in seats.

If you want Taken, watch . . . Taken. But if you want to see a return (of sorts) for a talented actor and have a taste for noir, then it’s worth a gander.

3/5