21 Bridges Review

21 Bridges is falling down
Falling down, falling down
21 Bridges is falling down
My fair viewer

Build it up with a better script
better script, better script
Build it up with a better script
My fair viewer

Giving it a decent plot

wouldn’t hurt wouldn’t hurt

please give it a decent plot

My fair viewer.

Your also going to need to do something about the absolutely pathetic run-time, wasted central idea and a truly predictable, one dimensional bunch of characters as well.

Aside from that. ‘Tis all good.

Which isn’t to say that the central idea is bad because it isn’t- I mean, an embattled NYPD detective being thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers after uncovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy sounds awesome.

The setups pretty awesome as well. I mean you’ve got everything here to make for a cracking old school cop thriller along the lines of the Steve Mcqueen classic Bullitt just without as good a car chase because no cop film will ever have as good a car chase as Bullitt. Or even something like a really miniaturized version of The Fugitive. Because, believe you, me, you’ve got the ingredients here for something amazing.

I mean you’ve got a cop with a rep being teamed up with a new partner being forced to track down a pair of cop killers whilst tugging on the threads of a conspiracy whilst their all trapped on a island until dawn, at which points the bridges will be re-opened and all the rats will escape into the ether.

Imagine what you could do with that! Allegiances being tested, bonds broken, a ticking clock hurting everyone, the pressure rising as the public becoming angrier and angrier as they realize more and more that their being held hostage by a massive game of hide and seek!

You’ve got the cast for it as well, with Black Panther as the lead, backed up by J. Jonah Jameson holding the politicians at bay, Sienna Miller as his partner and even Taylor Kitsch (thankfully long past Hollywood’s delusion that he was the next big thing.) Getting some work.

Now, all of this could work if the films was allowed the run-time to breathe. And I know that most Hollywood films are in need of another trip to the editing suite but this! By my watch the film had reached a natural conclusion after a truly pathetic 82 minutes and then pottered along for another 10 because it had to reveal the most obvious plot twist since I asked my allegedly full wife where my chips kept vanishing off to.

I mean 82 minutes would have worked if this was the setup to a TV where Black Panther would have realized that although he’s smashed this tentacle by accident, the rest of the vampire squid is still out there, hidden in plain sight.

But this isn’t an opening episode of a TV show, this is an alleged feature length film!

And all of this films issues can be traced back to the run-time! Look, Hollywood, I know that there are loads of kids out there who need make stuff go boom every 2 minutes but there are a few adults left in the world of film lovers who would have loved a film taking it’s time. Because more time= more developed characters. As is, what we know about these people in the first ten minutes is all we ever know about them. Which makes what I guess are supposed to be twists and turns fall completely flat. Which in  film like this is a pretty big hit for a film of this type to take.

You’ve got our alleged villains being directed to villainous helpers who appear to have wandered in from an episode of The Blacklist and help them when there was no way they would lift a finger in the real world.

Then, you have the fact that this film is just action scene after action scene after action scene which are pretty dull with very little time dedicated to actual detective work, interrogating suspects, dead ends, busted leads or even the fact that the clock is ticking and the politicians would be getting antsy. Or as us snarky film types call it THERE IS NO TENSION IN THIS FILM.

And it just blows my mind! I know that this is the directors first (and hopefully last) excursion to the silver screen but surely someone could have pointed out the fact that films like this Need. To. Breathe.

Hmm? Oh, you thought this film was directed by those guys who made Avengers Endgame? Aren’t you adorable. I’m afraid their lovely marketable names merely get a producer credit and I have yet to understand what that means, if indeed it means anything at all. No, the director is some guy called Brian Kirk who has purely done TV series up until this point – which actually explains a lot.

The best I can say about 21 bridges is that it’s a very good idea which has been completely and utterly devastated by a pointless decision to go for the people who need an explosion every five minutes instead of people who just want a good old cop thriller. It doesn’t need any work done to it’s cast but developing the characters would have helped. Bringing in some tension would have helped. A longer run-time would have helped. Doing some work on the plot would have helped. Making the twists actually twisty would have helped as well.

Aside from those little niggles this is my film of the year.

My Score- Skip It.

 

Rambo: Last Blood Review

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Rambo number 5.

one, two, three, four, five at the end of the first one he wasn’t meant to survive!

And….

No.

I refuse to sully one of my favorite guilty pleasure songs by associating it with Rambo: Last Blood. Which is a bad film.

I mean, it was never going to be Oscar bait and I’m not some Guardian reader who thinks that films should all be sweet and lovely and that we should always think  of the children. I mean my top three this year s most likely going to include a video nasty about Nazi puppets killing loads of innocent people in some disgustingly gruesome yet awesome ways.

But this film just feels so… regressive. In the last one, Stallone went out of his way to find an unreported conflict and set the film there. But here, he’s taking on Mexican criminals? I could through my script guy and hit a hundred films with Mexican criminals as the villains. I’d rather not- I know where my script guy has been but the point still stands.

The story-lines fairly generic as well. I mean I love Taken as much as the next man but it just doesn’t seem to fit when the protagonist is Rambo. A man who has taken on three army’s (and one sheriffs department) reduced to taking on kidnappers just doesn’t seem to mesh with me.

Like I say, the plots pretty much Taken without ‘the speech.’ Whereupon a wise father tells their young child not to explore the world as everyone out there is evil, child doesn’t listen, gets kidnapped and dad has to kill a load of foreign red-shirts in a bid to save his daughter and prove him right.

Someone other than me has called it ‘serious hairy dad games’ in relation to video games and here there’s nothing more that can be said about the plot.

I mean, there were things about the film that I did like- I liked that Rambo was somewhat vulnerable and I’m always a fan of a montage but there was just something about this film that rubbed me the wrong way.

And I think it was because the violence felt mean spirited. I mean the other three Rambo films where he actually kills people (Seriously, he didn’t kill anyone in the first film.) But we were never expected to glorify in these kills like we were suffering through one of those insufferable Saw films- here though were expected to cheer as Rambo slices up I have no idea amount of red-shirts who, whilst we know why Rambo has decided the world is a better place without them in but were never told how many of them there are, if they are actually supposed to pose a threat to Rambo who goes through them like a student going through free shots. Or even the layout of the location he’s taking them on in.

I mean I didn’t want detailed floor plans but just some sense of context would have been  appreciated.

I will say that the kills are inventive, non-repetitive, I’ll confess to enjoying the finale  and I will always give props to any film that use practical effects over CGI and I knew going in that a film with an 89 minute run-time was never going to be a deep think piece on the human condition but this is just so generic. You could swap Rambo out with any generic hero and it would have made no difference. Hell, with a quick rewrite this could be Taken 4: It’s time to call  Social Services and you just couldn’t say that about any of the other films.

Look, if your after blood and violence and extreme gore than Rambo: Last Blood (after about the half way point) has you covered. But now that we have the stylized John Wick franchise Rambo looks like a relic from cinemas past, the guest who’s outstayed their welcome at the party. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before and there’s nothing worth remembering. It’s watchable but with an edge that left a bad taste in my mouth. A competent and a fitting end to the characters story but I don’t want to see this again. Rambo is a hero from a different, simpler era of cinema who just doesn’t belong in this incarnation of cinema.

It’s a shame but that’s life.

My Score- Skip It

Killers Anonymous Review

It is a fact universally acknowledged that one of the best episode of Batman The Animated Series is called “Almost Got ‘Im” whereupon  bunch of Batman’s rogues gallery play cards and chat about how they almost killed Batman. It’s got good dialogue, great character interaction as well as a couple of cool short vignettes and a pretty cool twist in the last few minutes.

Which was pretty much what I expected from Killers Anonymous because, well, why wouldn’t I? Plus, it’s a pretty cool idea for a film. Just a load of killers chatting about how they killed their last victim, how they got started and you could have them from all areas of society from your cool, calm assassins to the more frenzied types to the poisoners just imagine what someone like Tarantino could do with that!

Sadly it’s been handed over to someone who, well, has some… interesting ideas about where this film should go.

I would have gone the Reservoir Dogs option and had one of them be an undercover cop trying to get these people to confess to their crimes so that they can all be locked away but their covers blown and the killers start looking for the mole with the tension ever rising…

Sadly though that’s not what happens. Instead the meeting happens the day a US senator is shot at, and then…. I have no idea. It’s the sort of plot that seems to have been written by someone who forgot to take their ADHD meds as every 5 minutes they scream BORED NOW and throw another twist in the script before they’ve finished with the last one. To call it a mess would be generous. The Matrix sequels were easier to figure out!

Also, the poster lies. Gary Oldman is a cameo at best- he’s not on the main set and seems to have filmed all his lines because he had a weekend free and has his eye on a new widescreen TV. Jessica Alba…. Is also there. For about the first six minutes and then she’s never mentioned or referenced again. And it’s just such a jarring role for her. It’s almost as if Michelle Rodriguez turned them down so they just grabbed the first non-white actress that was walking past their office.

Everyone else is either a TV actor or someone else who was just walking past the office when the director needed to cast someone. They do have interesting if one note characters- a doctor obsessed with the moment of death is one that stuck with me but their just not allowed to do anything or develop in any memorable way.

I mean how- in the name of film do you make a film about hired killers having a group therapy session completely mad and at the same time completely uninteresting? There’s no budget so don’t expect any massive stunts or car chases but the setup alone should have been enough.

Badly acted, weirdly shot, with a plot that makes no sense, a poster that’s a complete lie and completely wastes what interesting characters it does have Killers Anonymous is one off the biggest misfires I’ve seen this year.

Keep the setting, get rid of the weird US senator nonsense (the films set in London, all the characters are British so I don’t know what he was doing there in the first place.) Allow the characters time to breathe and this could have been a fun little number alongside last years ‘Accident Man.’ A fun little number about an assassin union in the UK which I would recommend in a heartbeat over this.

Actually I would recommend pretty much anything over this. Even going ‘outside’ would be preferable to this drokk.

My Score- Fire 

Kursk/ The Command review

Normally I love watching submarine films. I mean the long lamented genre of siege films is my favorite and the idea of taking a siege mentality, putting it in a giant windowless cigar tube, with the knowledge that even a sneeze could sentence you and 100 other people to death from some unseen enemy is, to my mind a recipe to great movies. And U571.

Normally….

Because normally I’m not watching Kursk or The Command in the US or Kursk: The Last Mission in the UK. Normally I’m not watching a story which should not need to be told because there’s absolutely no reason for it to have happened.

Normally I’m not watching a film and getting Chernobyl flashbacks. You remember Chernobyl, right? Literally the greatest TV show ever made and, unlike Breaking Bad a TV show that you actually should put next on your to binge list. (I’m starting Breaking Bad next week, I swear! On my script guys life!)

Because all of the issues flagged up in that show are flagged up here, despite the Cold War allegedly being well and truly over by that point.  Over, according to the papers but not in the mindset of those high enough up the food chain to accept the offers of help that came in thick and fast, instead choosing to rely on outdated, inefficient machinery that didn’t have a hope in hell of doing what they needed it to do.

Then you have the people back at home, desperate for information who, instead are being fed useless out of date slogans and information that’s so irrelevant that the people delivering it might as well not have bothered.

However, unlike Chernobyl (which was so realistic that the only people who got a bit miffered were the Pro-Kremlin media which continues to deny the extent of the disaster at Chernobyl, saying it has been exaggerated, with state-run media scoffing at the “myths,” such as large numbers of leukemia. Segments of the Russian government were so unhappy with this program that state TV channel NTV is producing its own more “patriotic” account of the events, involving a wholly fictional storyline based on a conspiracy theory that a CIA agent was in Chernobyl to sabotage the plant.)- I can’t wait. But Kursk defiantly takes a more fictional route- the end results still the same but the way we get there is slightly different than what happened in reality.  Because otherwise it would be even more depressing.

Anyway, the plotline (in case you haven’t guessed 420 words in) is that during a Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea two explosions severely damage the submarine. Twenty-three sailors survived the crash and desperately waited for help to arrive while their oxygen ran out minute-by-minute. It’s cold, it’s grey, it’s depressing and it’s one of the most affecting film I’ve seen in months.

I do have some issues with the film in the Colin Firth (whilst playing a smaller role than the ad campaign would have you believe) is somewhat distracting in the role because a story like this is strong enough that it doesn’t need star power, it’s simply distracting. It’s the same with Léa Seydoux who is a fine actor but I feel that casting an unknown would have lent the story more resonance. Also, toning down the melodrama might have helped somewhat, with the increased time being used to focus on the people trying to save those desperately trapped under the sea, as well as those trying to use their limited resources to get more time for the rescue that they know is coming if they can just hold out a little bit longer…

Kursk/ The Command/ Kursk: The Last Mission is a film that doesn’t pull it’s punches or attempt to quell it’s anger at the fact that every decision that was made was wrong, and (at time of writing) no-one has bee brought to justice. There’s no Hollywood style bombast or moments, just real people trying to make the most of a horrifying, nightmare, situation. I mean, the characters aren’t for the ages (the guys on the sub are pretty interchangeable) but I  liked them, I liked their sense of camaraderie, the way that they kept each other sane in the most terrifying circumstances imaginable. The effects were passable and, on the whole, this was a story that needed to be told, I just think that they needed to take out the star names, maybe stick closer to reality and treat this as an entry point to a fascinating story.

My Score- See It. 

Anna (2019) Review

I get that after your lifelong passion project (Valerian and the city of a thousand Planets) turns into one of the biggest bombs in cinematic history you might want to return to your cinematic roots and make something low budget to calm your nerves, check you’ve still got ‘it’ and stop your company from collapsing under a mountain of debt.

But there is returning to your cinematic roots and there is reheating old leftovers and Luc, buddy, this is some serious reheating.

But hey, I liked La Femme Nikita as well. Hell, I even stuck with the tv show for a couple of seasons but this… this is just copy paste. Just swap out the Centre for the KGB, and your pretty much good to go.

Now, for those of you who haven’t seen Nikita or even last year’s Red Sparrow (and on that one I can’t blame you) the plots simple. Set at some point during the cold war for no reason that I could work out, Anna is well, according to the blurb Beneath a woman’s striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the most feared assassins on the planet.

I’ll take that as a plot description because even though this film has a near 2 hour run-time (When a film this basic should be no more than 100 minutes at the longest) I genuinely have no idea what the plot is, why almost everyone did what they did or even who they were. I mean, how do you waste Dame Helen Mirren? I didn’t even think that was possible.

Now, as far as I could work out (and trust me, it wasn’t easy) the plot involves a beautiful Russian girl with no personality being forced into becoming one of the USSRs top assassins and then she enbarks on a cat and mouse game with CIA man (Cillian Murphy) whilst desperately trying to get out of the game without receiving a fatal dose of lead poisoning. Or Polonium. Or Cyanide. Or having a ‘boating accident’ since her cover is as one of the world’s top models. Because that makes sense.

In reality,it’s a mess. There’s only two real fight scenes (which weirdly enough featured pretty heavily in the trailer) , then everyone sits.around talking, some… people on set get shot but it never seems to cost our lead character anything. There’s one fairly major character, who, in the right hands could have acted as Anna’s conscience, a link back to her humanity but instead is just sort of… there. Remove them completely and the film wouldn’t suffer at all.

Also, I get that in spy films the odd flashback can be useful in helping us know how a trick was done, they are best used sparingly. Here? Their used so often that I was half wondering if the scriptwriter was on such a tight deadline that instead of rewriting some scenes, it was quicker and easier to just put in a flashback explaining how this was all part of some grand plan. It got do bad that you could make a drinking game out of them!

We never get a handle on our lead character and certainly not on any of the side characters. There’s two passable action scenes but scenes that should have been tense, weren’t. People that should have had depth, didn’t and its way, way too long.

I know a film of this type can work because it has in the past. But here? Even with the flashbacks it’s completely predictable and with a few rewrites it could have been so much better.

The best I can say is it’s made enough money to temporarily keep the creditors from Luc Beesons door.

My Score- Skip It.

Spider-Man: Far from Home Review

So, how does one follow up Avengers Endgame? A film which despite being re-released as an ‘extended edition’ whilst the original is STILL in cinemas featuring some half baked, unfinished irrelevant scene is still second behind a James Cameron film which nobody remembers let alone cares about in the global box office?

You reach for one of the most popular superheros in existence of course! Good old Arachnid boy who is pretty much single handily responsible for keeping the turkey factory known as Sony in operation.

Arachnid Boy – We Just Realized There’s A World Outside Our Windows, is the first film set after a bunch of CGI thugs undo Thanos heroic and noble actions to lower London’s house prices and help me get a seat on the central line in the morning.

And at first it looks like the film is going to tackle the issues raised by half the population suddenly coming back from the dead- schoolkids having to redo school years, people coming home to find that other people are living in their homes, family members having moved on, remarried and adjusted to what must have been a horrific experience.

Except within ten minutes the film drops all these ideas in favour of yet another Marvel film.

I mean, it is kind of cool that an American road trip film has realized that there’s more to Europe than London and Prague because well, insert your own Brexit joke here because I am so, so tired.

I am also slightly baffled by the interesting ideas that the film has and then throws away, Fury is depicted as being behind the curve but the film doesn’t really do anything with it. Parker is in so many European countries but they pass by so quickly that none of them make an impact beyond Marvel being pleased with the fact that it’s just bought a new atlas.

It’s gotten all the usual Marvel issues as well, the villain appears to have nothing but good points, the hero is basically an immortal, invulnerable God, the CGI is everywhere and obvious , even when it doesn’t need to be there, I’m still not convinced that the hero isn’t the biggest menace in the film and everyone’s just a quippy pain in the neck to such an extent that I wanted to go back in time and shove a book of Shakespearean soliloquies down Joss Wheedons throat and his Scooby Gang of helpers needs a lot less time in the third act as they frankly add a Gooniesh air to what could have been a very intense finale.

Aside from that, this films actually pretty good. Holland is amazing as Parker and is arguably the second best cast person in the film…. It’s great to see Jake Gyllenhaal back into blockbusters following 2008s frankly underrated Prince of Persia flick. More comedic lines hit than miss and there are some really cool ideas and visuals after what I guess is supposed to be a twist in the middle of the film but everyone who has even the slightest knowledge of the web-head would have seen coming a mile away.

There’s some good character moments but it just all get drowned beneath the inevitable CGI slurry hat accompanies all these films.

As a soft reboot after infinity war, this film works. As a fun distraction, it works. Marvel doesn’t make bad films. I mean, they will eventually but that day is not today. It’s got some interesting ideas but it doesn’t DO anything with them. All the characters are interesting flawed.and relatable. Or pathetically flat one dimensional bits of cardboard but that’s life these days.

Some of the action scenes are fun but all of them are different and inventive and to be honest, that’ll do film. That’ll do.

My Score- See It.

Child’s Play (2019) Review

“Why are you reviewing this film?”

Asked my very confused script guy.

“You’ve never seen any of the other films in this franchise, there’s no real buzz about this film, the marketing budget is zero as you’ve not seen a single trailer or even poster on even a single bus. Hell, even your local cinema couldn’t be bothered to advertise it”

True, conceded I, but you could make the same argument about Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and that disgusting, sick little film is still riding high in my end of year top ten.

Besides, isn’t that the whole point of a reboot? To attract a new audience to a franchise? As well as ridding yourself of a sometimes suffocating amount of some frankly baffling continuity?

Besides, Aubrey Plaza is amazing in pretty much everything she does and legendary voice actor Mark Hamill (who I think also did some space wizard film back in the ’70’s- Battlestar Galactia I think it was called) is playing the role of Chucky and the child actor is pretty tolerable even if he does have to deal with supporting characters called Falyn and Pugg. For no discernible reason that I could work out.

The set-ups interesting as well- gone is the soul of a serial killer getting trapped in a doll and instead we get Skynet.

Which might sound like a bit of a course correction but in certain scenes it actually works. Given that the villain is AI instead of a trapped soul, he can control everything that’s connected to the internet of things- cameras, thermostats, driver-less cars and more which is an idea that’s really underused in modern horror.

But it all falls apart when, instead of being an evil and malevolent AI, we realize that our villain is a doll that sometimes has super-speed whenever the plot requires it and the rest of the time just sort of beams around the set.

I mean, when the death scenes to start to occur (far too late in the film for my liking I mean about an hour into a 90 minute film? Get a wiggle on). Their at their best when it’s just seemingly the technology malfunctioning. I mean, imagine it- some unseen, twisted hacker killing those who he feels have wronged him by manipulating their technology with humiliating, madness inducing and finally lethal consequences. I mean, imagine what you’ve said in front of or around your Alexa that you wouldn’t want broadcast…

In other words, the villain in this movie is scarier when he isn’t around. As when he is on set, he’s about as scary as cold pizza. And can be defeated with a good kick.

But this film has issues beyond the monster who could have been easily removed to the improvement of the film at only the cost of loosing all that lovely name recognition.

There were at least three major plot holes which would have brought about the utterly beautiful end credits even sooner and a scene at the end which just seemed to be gift wrapped for dozens of gory and inventive deaths but the film just wastes it completely in favor of a completely generic and utterly tedious ending as if the budget ran out just a smidge too soon.

The characters are all cardboard, too many of them make it to the end credits and there’s just something so old fashioned about it. I called everything that was going to happen about five minutes before it did and called the ending about two minutes in.

This film needed to develop tit’s ideas more, use it’s ideas to create a sense of looming horror from which there is no escape- as there is a great idea for a horror movie in here, hell, they even have a guy who would have been a much better villain at least until Chucky bumps him off anyway.

As a film to throw on it’s slow until it goes mad in the last half an hour, as a horror film it’s monster is scarier when he  isn’t around and it’s just utterly predictable and old fashioned, squandering what could have been a really cool, scary, idea for the sake of a brand name. It’s not completely hopeless, there were some inventive death scenes and the actors are doing what they can with what they have- especially Hamill, but it just comes across as a pointless remake that could have been a cool idea for a brand new franchise in it’s own right.

My Score- If Nothing Else