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.

Mile 22 Review

Mile 22 is such a simple premise for an action film that it’s almost impossible to screw up. All Mark Whalberg and his team of highly trained redshirts have to do is transport a corrupt cop from the American embassy to an airstrip through an entire city full of people trying to kill them so he can give them a file which will stop a bad thing from happening. Probably. The film doesn’t seem to care about it’s plot and neither do I.

How simple is that?

Hell, the corrupt cop is even the guy from The Raid?  You remember, it’s that awesome film that plays like Die Hard on steroids and utterly killed Dredd, which had a similar premise and went into production first but lost the release war because of VFX touch-ups which meant that it looked unoriginal and…..

Focus Miles.

Stop talking about things that actually interest you and instead talk about Mile 22. 

Ok, so Wahlberg runs a team called Overwatch who are sent in to do things that the government would rather not get caught doing and their watched over by John Malkovich who has the code-name ‘Mother’ which isn’t creepy at all. Or giving me flashbacks to last years god knows what starring Jennifer Laurence. Malkovich is accompanied everywhere by his collection of bobbing heads of Presidents past and present; their fake, plastic grins casting a knowing eye over clandestine killing. If I was being generous I might say that there’s some sort of satirical point being made about Americas habit of nodding things through without waiting for international backing, or support, or legality whilst maintaining  the cheerful idealism of America whilst the more unsavoury realities of its actions are made explicit.

But the films not smart enough to make that point and neither has director Peter Berg done anything along those lines so I’ll just move on.

Besides, you didn’t come to see Mile 22 (which is how far their convoy has to go before the end credits can start) to hear about satire on geopolitics or how the characters are flatter than a policeman trying to get a runaway steamroller to stop at a red light. You want to know how exciting the scenes where the bang bangs go into the bad man and make him fall over are.

And, their fine. There’s a nice scene where the Dredd killer gets to show off his moves in an almost Jackie Chanesque sequence and enough gunfights, car chases and running to keep you vaguely focused but there’s nothing spectacular or unique or even that memorable. The action sequences are predictable and there’s just this vein of gritty nihilism running through the whole thing. Which normally I wouldn’t complain about, but this is a film where a bit more gloss and some slightly more outlandish stunts would have helped. Also, the editing on these scenes sucks. Seriously, how hard is it to watch Heat a few times until you understand how this time of action should be shot? I mean, allegedly they use those gunfights whilst training US Marines!

Sorry, distracted again.

I recommend not trying to follow the plot beyond the time limited escort mission that the trailers have made you think it as it’s a convoluted mess that exists purely for sequel bait and could have been removed completely without impacting the film in the slightest.

But it’s also the blindingly obvious type of confusing mess.

How their going to turn this into a ‘ multi-media series’ baffles me. This is the kind of ‘world-building’ that makes the DCEU/ Dark Universe look competent.

As an action film it’s a dull, grey, mess full of one dimensional characters laboring under a plot that’s too twisty for it’s own good full of action scenes that have been done better. As a starting point for the Mileverse? I’ll pass.

But what did I expect? The whole franchise has been going downhill since 8 Mile

My Score- Skip It. 



The Hitmans Bodyguard Review

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably have to say it again.

The United Kingdom has severe anti-gun laws. Whilst it is not impossible to acquire a firearm in London it would take you a long time to build up the trust required to be given access to a single pistol. Getting hold of enough rifles to launch a small coup? Not going to happen. There’s a reason that London’s gangs use knives and acid instead of guns.

Also, if your trying to get from the UK to Amsterdam in a very short time frame, maybe taking an 9 hour ferry ride isn’t the best idea? Even if you are getting a lift with a bunch of singing nuns.

But, if I started applying logic to this film then it’s going to fall apart completely. Because this film is a blast from start to finish, it’s a live action cartoon not meant to be taken seriously in any way shape or form. Could I sit here and pick hole after hole after hole in it?

Yes, yes I could. But why would I want to?

After months of CGI filled ‘blockbusters’ it’s so refreshing to see a film with actual stunts, actual explosions and a complete knowledge of the fact that it is what it is.

The plots very, very simple.   Ryan Reynolds has to get Samuel L. Jackson to the Hague so he can put Gary Oldman in prison for appearing in Robocop. But Oldman has unlimited access to people who flunked out of Stormtrooper academy for failing their marksmanship tests.

Well, either that or our two main characters are so indestructible that the bullets are hitting them and their just patching up faster than the human eye can see. Because after about 20 minutes I figured out that there was absolutely no danger in any of the fight scenes and from then on whilst I enjoyed the film it did get a slight downgrade.

Call me old fashioned but I like my heroes to have a chance of being killed when their being shot at by a million bullets. Because after a while it an start to get a little bit tedious. And the run-time could do with 15 minutes being chopped off as towards the end I was starting to feel slightly bludgeoned.

But Reynolds and Jackson have amazing chemistry and some of the best scenes are just them, sitting in a car throwing barbs at each other. And I wished that they were longer as they represented a chance for the headache I was starting to develop to start going away.

I would also like to recommend for a knighthood whichever genius decided to hire Salma Hayek for her role which is little more than a glorified cameo where she either sits in a cell hurling some very creative and funny abuse at anyone unlucky enough to wander into her eye-line or wrecking stuff up in a low-rent bar.

And  Élodie Yung is there as well. She gets a nice participation trophy as well as another thank you from me for giving me a break from the relentless action.

Look, this film is not some deep think piece on the human condition, it’s Shoot ‘Em Up blended with The Nice Guys and The Blues Brothers. The films plot twists  which it thinks are so amazing and unforeseen could all be predicted in the first ten minutes. But I mustn’t fall into the trap of over-intellectualising. This is just instantly disposable, artistically worthless, expertly crafted trash, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Just don’t take your mum, this film has Tarantino levels of swearing.

My Score- See It