*NEW* KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE REVIEW *NEW*

Manners maketh the ridiculous sequel

When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsmen’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

Stupid, bonkers, OTT and yet . . . Still highly entertaining.

The Kingsman are back BUT better? Well . . .

It would help to watch the first one. BUT if you haven’t, it’s not the end of the world (Although YOU MUST! It’s rather bloody good) as quick plot points are skimmed over anyway.

I mean, my mind drew a blank in the opening sequence as Charlie (Who? Thankfully there was a quick flashback) ambushed Eggsy (Taron Egerton) in a mental cab chase punch up.

I was a little anxious with the frenetic opening. It was too chaotic and, dare I say, silly for my liking. The frantic camera work, the over-indulgent CGI, I feared the worst. The soundtrack was on point though as Eggsy and Charlie punched the living daylights out of each other to Prince. Nice.

BUT once the pace settled down and the humour kicked in, I was still happy to be caught up in this crazy mess.

Egerton ran the show yet again and carried the film (when it tragically dragged).

Julianne Moore had a tough act to follow after Ssssssamuel (One for the Kingsman fans) L Jackson’s stellar turn in Secret Service BUT she played the psycho Poppy really well. If anything, I was disappointed at how small her screen time was.

Beneath the smiley Desperate Housewives persona lied one twisted individual. Don’t eat a burger from her. That’s all I’m saying.

I liked the idea of the Statesmen. The Kingsman’s American cousin. All the satire ripe for the picking. BUT after a fun introduction and some punny wordplay on their operative names; Tatum, Berry and Bridges were all left watching from the side lines. By the end, I wondered why they even bothered. Shame.

Thank God for Pedro Pascal’s (Game of Thrones/Narcos) laser lasso throwing cowboy Whiskey.

Colin Firth was a welcome return. Even with his ridiculous (but surprisingly plausible in a “Kingsman” way) revival. A much needed presence. The camaraderie with Eggsy was the heart of the first movie.

His presence made up for some of the messier parts of the movie. The only problem was that once Harry was back, Merlin was designated to Q status. A shame as up until that point; Mark Strong (The Brothers Grimsby) had been on scene stealing form. Benched (with the majority of the Statesmen) right up until the explosive finale.

My main quibble with The Golden Circle was that where the original got away with poking fun at James Bond (and the spy genre in general); this really did take things up to 11. A bit like Kick Ass 2. Funny, messed up BUT pushing its luck.

The middle act dragged and a reconnaissance mission at Glastonbury took the biscuit for me as Eggsy “planted” a bug into a model’s (Poppy Delevigne – Yup Cara’s sis) orifice (Nope, you read that right).

Now don’t get me wrong, the original wasn’t perfect. And to say, this sequel was silly by comparison is . . . silly in itself.

Especially when you had Sofia Boutella’s lethal Pistorius blade combination, Jackson’s blood phobia and THAT church scene . . . (My God! Pardon the irony) I will never listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd  in the same way again!

I just wasn’t caught up in it as much this time around.

Bruce Greenwood’s cameo as the President of the United States was mental. He reminded me of a similar world leader (with no concept of empathy or thought. Make of that what you will). His unique hostage negotiating skills spoke volumes.

BUT the real scene stealer was Sir Elton John. The Rocketman was bloody hilarious. He really didn’t give a damn, wasn’t afraid to poke fun at himself and was surprisingly agile for an ailing musician 😉

Despite the relentless CGI, the malingering pace and some mad plot holes, K: GC was still crazy fun with some entertaining and delightfully bloody and visceral action sequences.

A fun time filler if nothing else that won’t disappoint Kingsman fans too much.

3/5

Advertisements

*NEW* AMERICAN MADE REVIEW *NEW*

Poorly made? Or silly fun?

A pilot (Tom Cruise) lands work for the CIA and the cartel as a drug runner in the south during the 1980s.

Imagine if Pablo Escobar hired Top Gun’s Maverick to export his drugs and you’re pretty much there.

Cruise does just enough to make this mad biopic entertaining.

I know his latest efforts have been mixed (to say the least) BUT it was true what the movie said, “He’s the gringo that always delivers”.

The opening quickly set up the monotonous daily routine of the unfulfilled Barry Seal (Cruise). Frustration reaching breaking point as the airline pilot playfully switched off the auto pilot just to take control of something in his life.

Thankfully it wasn’t long before the mysterious ‘Monty’ (Domnhall Gleeson) made his introduction.

Domnhall Gleeson has got to be one of the best supporting actors going at the moment. He almost stole the limelight from Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens. BUT I digress . . .

He played ‘Monty’ brilliantly. Slick and cocky. Playing up to Seal’s desires and offering him the job of a lifetime. A new plane. A new life. BUT, of course, at a price. Always at a price.

The only problem was that once Cruise was set on his way, Gleeson was pushed into the background. A missed opportunity as ‘Monty’ was a lot shadier than we were led to believe.

Cruise’s Dukes of Hazzard story telling was a little too silly for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, it was very watchable and had an easygoing comical feel to the piece. Very much like Charlie Wilson’s War. BUT I like my crime biopics a little more gritty and hard hitting.

If these events (Accepting “Hollywood”‘s retelling) actually happened, I’d be smirking like the protagonist!

The pace was patchy and dipped in and out of places BUT I wasn’t bored. If anything, I was engrossed into seeing how far this madness went as Seal crossed enemy lines to initially to do some air reconnaissance.

Accepting all the risks with no assistance or recognition if captured or killed. Ridiculous.

The thrill-seeking pilot inevitably becoming the CIA’s golden goose for information. The gringo that always delivers. However, despite providing Grade A intel, it wasn’t long before Seal’s financial woes piled up. The CIA scrimping on providing an adequate salary. Shocking.

BUT ‘Monty’ has a solution as Seal’s aerial skills are required for a bigger and more dangerous mission. Smuggling drugs for the Colombian cartel!

This is the second Escobar influenced biopic I’ve seen in the last year (The Infiltrator). Now, I know he was only a passing figure in Seal’s mishaps BUT why did they make the big guy so weak and lifeless?

Clearly the film is riding on the Narcos hype; so why didn’t they watch the show and take some pointers?

There were still tense moments as Seal attempted to take off a mock jungle runway with a top heavy plane full to the brim with cocaine. The PoV shots had me wincing as the plane wrestled with the tree tops.

BUT the characters could have been fleshed out a lot more.

The stunning Sarah Wright (21 & Over) didn’t do too bad a job as Barry’s long suffering wife. BUT her character was still tragically weak. Even if she wasn’t just accepting Barry’s answers and decisions as their family were reallocated across the country.

Caleb Landry Jones (Get Out) played the airhead brother in law JB well. A walking disaster if ever there was one. Alarm bells ringing early on that the dimwit will be a problem for Barry’s operation.

I was expecting Fargo’s Jesse Plemons to do more as Sheriff Downing. He was completely irrelevant as the events unfolded. I’m sure that was supposed to be a lazy statement on Seal’s ever-growing power BUT that could have been done without the Chief Wiggum-esque antics.

Lucy: “Honey, there’s money flying around in the back yard”

Barry: “I’ll rake it up in the morning”

More money than sense as Seal’s operation continued to expand. His smuggling became so lucrative that the hay in the stables was embedded with cash!

The silly humour and quips didn’t really work as well as they should have. It breezed over a lot of facts and picked the “sexier” bits of the story.

I actually got a little bored as Seal lapped up the high life. That was until his dealings took a murkier turn. Cutting through all sorts of crazy political red tape as he used the Iran-Contra affair to his gain.

Instead of supplying guns to the Contras, Seal sold them onto the Colombians while they smuggled Escobar’s drugs shipments back to Miami! I know, crazy!

Seal wasn’t just portrayed as as a money grabbing adrenaline junkie. Especially as the noose inevitably grew tighter around his neck as pressure continued to mount from Escobar and the CIA.

The final act was surprisingly dark and tense as Seal was inadvertently “made”. The error in itself was a joke.

The dark ending felt completely disjointed from the rest of the film as Seal went into hiding, fearing the wrath of the Colombians.

I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. BUT just like Gold and The Infiltrator, the producers have had to rely on a big leading performance to drudge through a patchy and mediocre affair.

Although it lacked depth, American Made still highlighted the hypocrisy of the CIA’s antics during the 80s and Cruise still delivered a watchable popcorn movie. Seriously, the Missouri plane chase was hilarious and action packed.

BUT the tone, mismatched humour and weak characters spoiled something that could have been so much more.

Narcos, it ain’t. A fun time filler worth a gander.

3/5

*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*

mpmswrlu

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

*NEW* THE INFILTRATOR REVIEW *NEW*

maxresdefault

Terrible title for a terrible movie. Not even Heisenberg could save this cold and disjointed crime thriller. Watch Narcos instead.

A U.S. Customs official (Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad) uncovers a money laundering scheme involving Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

A meandering and uninteresting crime biopic. Shame. Let’s start with the positives (That will be about a paragraph).

The opening was engaging enough as we watched agent Robert Mazur in play (Even if it was Hal in a badly dyed wig and tash). I couldn’t believe the number of British actors popping up in small (and tragically meaningless) roles; Daniel Mays (Dad’s Army), Leanne Best (Line of Duty) and Joseph Gilgun (Misfits).

I was intrigued as Mazur had to fake a heart attack to cover up the fact that the bug he was wearing was actually frying his chest. You could feel for the chap as retirement reared its ugly head. Desperately seeking one operation, one bust that will truly make a dent on this relentless drug war.

It was interesting to see the strain that the scheme took on Mazur’s wife. Juliet Aubrey (The Constant Gardener) and Bryan Cranston had good chemistry. At first, Evelyn was understanding and supportive as Bob confides in her every detail BUT as he delves deeper into the underbelly and his cover became entwined with his personal life, things began to take their toll.

An uncomfortable anniversary dinner took a turn for the worse as the couple bump into one of Mazur’s targets. A moment involving a birthday cake was probably one of the best scenes in the film. Cranston was able to show why he won all those Emmys and highlight the pressure of keeping two personas.

It was a little disappointing that the momentum couldn’t be carried. The agonizing pace really didn’t help the piece. There were good portions of the film that dragged unnecessarily.

I’m not sure whether it was a case of writer Ellen Sue Brown sticking too close to the original novel based on Mazur’s life BUT it really wasn’t an interesting one. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to establish that Escobar was filtering his money through America and various places around the world. Once we witnessed Bob initiate a few shady deals and droll out some financial statistics, there wasn’t much else on offer.

John Leguizamo’s character was the most interesting one as the unstable Emir Abreu. BUT he still annoyed the hell out of me. The banter and one liners not quite jumping out at you and coming off flat and unfunny. BUT at least his character got things going. Introducing Mazur to the very underworld he wants to bring down.

There were a couple of tense moments as Abreu had to protect Mazur’s cover and deal with his own C.I. that was going out of his way to cause problems. BUT for all the potential trouble it suggested, nothing really came of it. Once Mazur got to the people he needed to, Abreu was pushed into the background and only brought back for the dismal finale.

And that was the main problem. It was all build up with no pay-off. It spent so long setting everything up and then ended abruptly with some mind-numbing disappointing statistics and bio footnotes in the closing credits. BUT by the end I couldn’t care less.

Diane Kruger did her best as Kathy Ertz; Mazur’s undercover wife. The writer teased a growing closeness between the pair BUT it was never really explored. Some much needed drama that could have added to the strain on Mazur’s real wife. However, it was reduced to an awkward encounter between the two ladies that just didn’t work.

Benjamin Bratt did his best with the role of Roberto Alcaino BUT he delivered more gusto and tenacity as El Macho in Despicable Me 2. The promising cast were wasted. Amy Ryan was reduced to playing a stocky CIA operative. Dull. Gilgun wasn’t in it enough as Dominic. He has come a long way from Emmerdale.

Joshua Reis’ cinematography was great to look at BUT there were only so many badly choreographed flashy neon stripper dances to cracking 80s tunes that could distract me from the monotonous clichéd and generic crime drivel that we’ve seen time and time again.

A movie of mere moments that never really took off. It was a little infuriating to see the Breaking Bad star take another foray into the drug business BUT at the same time if anyone could have made it work, you would have banked on Walter White.

You know you’re onto a loser when the main villain is reduced to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it walking cameo.

2/5