THE GUEST REVIEW

THE GUEST

This is one house guest you won’t want staying around. Crawley is back and kicking ass. Dan Stevens has definitely escaped from the dusty confines of Downton Abbey and boy . . . what a film to break the mould.

Stevens is incredibly charismatic and proves that he can handle the leading role with ease. He was one to watch after his turn as Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey, but this performance will certainly put him on the map. However, it appears Hollywood have already clocked him with a supporting role in the new release of the Neeson crime showpiece, A Walk Among The Tombstones.

Now brought to you by the people who did You’re Next. When I read that, I dreaded what laid in store. I hated You’re Next. It completely flipped what I thought would be a solid slasher flick and turned it into a ridiculous farce. As soon as the opening credits of The Guest began with the highly elaborate overture that usually belonged to the 80s B-movie flicks, I was anxious. However, once Stevens flashed the pearly whites and unleashed that perfect American drawl, the anxiety dropped and a slow burning, suspenseful tension soon had me hooked as we try and decipher the intentions of the all too helpful lodger.

What’s it about? A soldier (Stevens) introduces himself to the Peterson family, claiming to be a friend of their son who died in action. After the young man is welcomed into their home, a series of accidental deaths seem to be connected to his presence.

A hint of A Shadow of a Doubt hovers over this indie action hit. In one moment, Stevens’ David works the charm offensive off every one in the screen, in the next he’s ready to destroy them. His unpredictability certainly makes for good viewing. However, one person isn’t buying it and that is Maika Monroe’s bizarrely dressed Anna Peterson. I don’t really pay attention to what people wear in movies but Monroe’s waitress stripper look was just strange and unattractive. The electro-infused soundtrack certainly made for interesting listening. Hypnotic at times but also balls-out random, which pretty sums up the movie and the finale in a nutshell.

The small cast play their parts well. Leland Orser’s (ER) frustrated feeble father, Joel David Moore’s pathetic pothead (Bones) and, scene stealer, Brendan Meyer’s Luke. Meyers delivered some of the better encounters with David. A tense encounter in a bar with some school bullies allows for cracking one liners and funny exchanges. Once Monroe seems to get over her sulking phases of having David in the house, she soon becomes a more interesting character. Especially with the fractious sexual tension inevitably blossoming between her and Stevens.

A little too much time is spent on the exchanges and glances that it slows the pace of the film down. However, the final 15 to 20 minutes came out of nowhere. The film goes in a completely different direction when Lance Reddick’s straight faced  (Fringe/The Wire) secret soldier creeps out of the woodwork. Now I think it will be down to the change in tide that will either make or break the film for people. For me, it made it so much better. For others, they may have preferred another route. Normally I am the latter. I’m staying cryptic because I want people to see this but it’s rapid, violent and balls-out (a lot of balls-out this time) reckless.

3.5/5 for me. Action packed, dark, funny, if a little long at the tooth in parts with an all out shoot em up and slightly abrupt finale. But not bad, not bad at all. Films aren’t testing me today.

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NON STOP REVIEW

non-stop-movie-poster-1

Well it didn’t make me say STOP. Hardly in-shite entertainment and it didn’t have me soaring for the exit. I went in expecting the worst and came out surprised. Neeson is back and badass BUT better?

An air marshall (Neeson) springs into action during a transatlantic flight after receiving a series of text messages that put his fellow passengers at risk unless the airline transfers $150 million into an off-shore account.

Look, these sort of films were always going to be guilty pleasures. Being a critic, I get it. Films shouldn’t be big, dumb and cliched. BUT if you want a silly little B movie thriller that you can switch your brain off to then look no further.

The opening ticked all the boxes on the cliched checklist. Emotionally scarred air marshall harbouring a deep trauma from his past. Check. Little girl flying on her own with cute teddy bear in tow. Check. (Who in their right mind would let a kid fly on their own?). Scarred marshall becoming instant father daddy figure. Check. Stereotypically suspicious looking foreign terrorist guys. BIG CHECK!

BUT once the plane took off and Neeson’s feeble attempt at some casual banter/flirting with a neurotic Julianne Moore was done and the first creepy text was sent, it was actually quite tense, suspenseful and surprisingly watchable. The texts flashing across the screen was like something out of Hollyoaks. It annoyed me in that and it did in this. Especially as the messages got bulkier.

The guessing game ticked over for a little while BUT there are always confinements when doing a thriller on a plane. A great concept if executed properly. When Neeson initially tried to fish out the anonymous texter, it was quite clever and almost believable. The killing a passenger every 20 minutes spiel should have been done in real time. The 24 style edge would have kept my attention when the pace lagged.

It didn’t help that a talented supporting cast were wasted as dull and lifeless red herrings. Anson Mount (Currently featuring in one of my favourite shows, the underrated Hell on Wheels) was wasted in his small role. Julianne Moore did the best she could and worked well with Neeson BUT her character got too annoying as the film progressed. The lovely Michelle Docherty (Mary from Downton Abbey) was highly unmemorable. As were Scoot McNairy (Monsters) and Corey Stoll’s (Ant Man) characters’ shame.

This was always going to be a Neeson action flick. Proving that Taken wasn’t a one time thing. (Apparently it’s the only thing now). As more people get bumped off and time is ticking away, he takes matters into his own hands yet again by . . . Oh yes. That’s right. Kicking ass and taking names.

His behaviour was questionable and OTT. A marshall on the brink of destruction asked NOT to cause a panic and secretly seek out a terrorist? Come on. His character caused more problems than were necessary. Even by action movie standards. Non-Stop ended up like one big 90s throwback B-movie. Hardly a bad thing. The fight sequences were pretty good. One particular highlight being a hand to hand cubicle combat scene.

There was a lot more suspense, tension and pace than the coma-inducing Flightplan. BUT it was never going to top the epic blockbuster that was Con Air. It seemed the writers thought (as the pilot so rightly said) “F~@k it!” as the final 15 minutes climaxed into pure bedlam with slow mo gun fights in zero gravity, double crossing, triple crossing, fingers pointing and Neeson punching answers out of people. The BIG REVEAL wasn’t that surprising BUT the motive was unexpected and frankly a little strange. BUT it was never going to be that type of movie.

If you want Taken on a plane, then you’ll enjoy it. BUT if you were expecting a slow burning claustrophobic thriller then move on. No points for originality BUT NOT the worst way to kill a couple of hours.

2.5/5