It is no secret I have a man crush on our boy Jason Statham. After he was an Olympic diver, he turned his hand to movies with a help from Guy Ritchie. He quickly found himself a niche, as that ‘b’ movie action hero. Picking up where the likes of Van Dame and Seagal left off, Statham slipped into that no nonsense, never gets his butt kicked role very easily.
The Transporter is the first in the series that really cemented his arrival to this genre. Here we have him as Frank, an ex SAS hero, who has elected for a relatively simple life in the south of France, doing the odd ‘Uber’ ride for the criminal underground.
He has 3 rules that should never be broken, but of course as soon as you hear them, you know fine well they are going to be broken, otherwise where would our story line be?
Frank’s car of choice, is a heavily modified BMW 7 series. While not the most exotic of vehicles he does take on us on a number high speed chases with many a clever stunt thrown in. But Statham excels best when he’s allowed to flex his fighting muscles and takes on a whole army of thugs by himself. While we have lots of nods to the Seagal/Van Dame fighting, you can see the odd Jackie Chan thrown in to mix it up.
But it works very well.
Personally this wasn’t my favourite Transporter outing, for that honour, I preferred the second one. This movie stands very well on its own, and does not do him any disservice.
#99 in the series
Viewing Date Wednesday, 25th November 2015 (Richmond)
The anticipation for this Bond was fever pitch, especially when the trailer dropped with a wonderful
Christoph Waltz as our Bond baddie, Blofeld, and of course a brand spanking, custom designed Aston Martin, the DB10. Throw in a great theme sung by Sam Smith, we could have an epic on our hands.
Let us cut to the chase – yes we do have an epic on our hands. While not up to the same high standard of Skyfall, this outing does not do anything to dent the reputation of the Bond series. The moment we open up to the classic through the barrel of his gun tracking Bond walk across the screen and then shoots, the goose bumps didn’t end.
The opening sequence, set in Mexico City is right up there with the classic multiple stunts of Bonds of past. Though, as we are introduced to Mexico City there is a death/voodoo celebration going on in the street giving us a feel of the 1970′s Live and Let Die Bond. This isn’t the first time you have a feeling of deja vu. We have the World is not Enough story line creeping in with the notion of global surveillance and Quantum of Solace with the complex in the desert setup.
But that all aside, the movie stands on its own very well, with a story line that is far fetched enough to live in the Bond universe and be enough for us to think, what if such things were allowed to go unchecked.
The story moves along at a wonderful pace, with the usual beautiful women, exotic locations and various action scenes. Andrew Scott (from BBC Sherlock) plays an excellent role and does his usual intense psychotic character.
The real star of the movie is Waltz. Once again he puts in a performance that simply steals the show. He plays the iconic Blofeld with a quiet, unnerving stillness. This is no Dr Evil (the parody from Mike Myers in Austin Powers). No over the top character flaws. For once we have a true baddie that feels real enough. Though personally I am not as keen on the back story here of how he and Bond knew each other. No spoilers.
The only real gripe I have is the relationship he forges with
Léa Seydoux, a beautiful lady some 17 years his younger. It doesn’t feel right. He doesn’t even look right. But that aside.
This was an excellent Bond and I am looking forward to watching it again. It was definitely one of the best, even though I am not a huge fan of the DB10. Though he does redeem himself driving off in the end in the classic 1960′s Aston Martin.
#82 in the series
Viewing Date Sunday, 8th November 2015 (Richmond, Movieland)
Guy Ritchie remake of the 1960′s TV series of the same name. I caught this movie in preview back when it was released before I was to depart on a plane to Scotland the next morning. I then went back to it, watching it with others, to see if my first impression was right or wrong.
The Cold War setting, we have an American CIA agent working with a Russian KGB agent on a special inter-agency mission to track down a gang of criminals hell bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. A lot of the intended humour is suppose to be around how different these two agents are and how different they deal with situations. They try to continually one up one another – each failing in their own way.
We have Superman (Henry Cavill) playing the suave American CIA agent, who while doing his best James Bond impression, doesn’t quite feel convincing. Though, he is nothing compared to his counter part the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer). The Russian accent does not quite work, nor does his look.
The movie actually got a little better on the second run through, allowing me to enjoy the style, feel and colour of the movie. It is beautifully shot and some of the set pieces are entertaining in their own right, but just don’t flow at all well together. There is one particular setup that see’s them trying to escape together using boats, but Superman gets separated and ends up in a truck eating cheese drinking wine while observing the whole chase/guns without any sense of urgency. It is no where near as slick as what it probably looked on paper.
An aging Hugh Grant pops up as the inter-agents main boss and has some of the best lines, but never given enough screen time in an attempt to save this movie.
You see the problem is simple – it never lived up to the hype of the trailer and pedigree of Mr Snatch/Rocknrolla. This movie should have knocked it out of the park and been as witty and as sharp as Richies previous outings. But it comes no where near even the slickness of Sherlock (let us not talk about the second Sherlock which was meh).
It is a tolerable and enjoyable action romp, but failed to live up to its true potential.
#81 in the series
Viewing Date Saturday, 7th November 2015 (Richmond)
Can you believe this movie is nearly 20 years old? This was one of
Sean Connery’s last major movies before retiring. Though, even as a 66 year old he looked like he could have gone another 10 years yet, considering how much output the likes of Arnold and Stallone are pumping out in their mid 60′s.
This is another one I will confess, I will put in the ‘okay
Nicolas Cage was quite good in this’ category as the wise cracking, field-novice, bio-chemical expert FBI agent Stanley Goodspeed.
Now while the movie has some wonderful witty dialogue, this movie is one of
Michael Bay’s classic outings. All the usual Bay trademarks are here; slow lingering close up shots, slow silhouette walking through smoke, short to wide sweeping shots .. all the usual ingredients are here.
Carla: [after telling Stanley she’s pregnant] You didn’t mean what you just said, did you? Goodspeed: When? Carla: Just right now, when you were talking about bringing a child into the world, and having it be an act of cruelty. Goodspeed: I meant it at the time. Carla: Stanley, “at the time”? You said it seven and a half seconds ago! Goodspeed: Well… gosh, kind of a lot’s happened since then.
The story has
Ed Harris as a military General who is sick and tired of the lies his government partakes in to not recognize the fallen soldiers in covert operations. He and his merry band of men, steal a highly secretive chemical weapon (that are basically green christmas tree balls) setup some rockets pointing at San Francisco from Alcatraz, holding the government to ransom for the sum of $100M. With this money he wants to pay the families of the fallen soldiers and then take $13M for him and his men to high tail it off to a country they can live their life out without fear of US extradition.
How does one break into the Rock? Well, how about you ask for the help of the only person to have known to have escaped from the place? Enter, ex-British SAS covert operative, who has been held in a USA jail without trial for 30 years – our dear friend Mr Connery.
We then have rookie and ex-disgruntled operative going in with a seal team to liberate the island. Of course, the seal team gets eliminated after a skirmish leaving our two heroes to save the day.
The movie is completely riddled with plot holes but don’t let that get in the way of the corny setups and subsequent dialogue (keep an eye out for the Elton John reference that you should be able to write precisely what is about to be said).
Enjoyable romp, from a stellar top shelf class (Cage not withstanding).
I was reminded of this movie while on holiday when I read the excellent book on the story of Dreamworks. This movie was not without its a problems, with an ever expanding budget that kept the pressure on the young studio to return its investment of finally $126M. So what does that coin get you?
Well, riding off the success of Bad Boys, Armageddon and The Rock (let us just not talk about Pearl Harbor yet) there was high hope for Michael Bay to deliver the goods on this action thriller.
The premise of the story is absolutely fascinating. Take The Truman Show and mix it with a dash of Moon and you have The Island. We are all painfully aware that the human body is a flawed device, breaks down frequently and doesn’t age terribly well.
So what if you could keep a spare YOU tucked away, that you could dip into for essential spare parts? This clone of yours would be harvested for when you most need it. Naturally this is going to be a very costly affair, so only the super wealthy will be able to afford such a backup.
Ewan McGregor plays both clone and wealthy owner, but for the first half of the movie all we see is from this clone’s point of view. We’re in a very space age setup, with little explanation of what is going on. Slowly the story is teased out that the outside world is in disarray with no vegetation and the only place that is green and healthy is the Island. There is a lottery every week for the lucky chosen to be taken out and sent to the Island to live out their lives in luxury and true freedom. This is what motivates and keeps the spirits up.
Though our friend Ewan isn’t quite sure about it all. He starts to question certain routines and various oddities that just don’t seem to add up. This is when the story starts to unfold and the ‘action’ part of the movie starts to kick in.
Scarlett Johansson is a fellow clone who completely buys in to the whole story line and of course is the love interest of Ewan who eventually persuades her to open her eyes and look around.
Sean Bean plays the head of the facility wonderfully well, with you buying into his character for the first half without any major alerts. The overall reveal is held back for a significant amount of time, with the odd clue here and there. That said, if you watch the movie again, you will pick up on a whole lot clues that are placed right from the start of the story.
Then once they break out, we go into full Michael Bay mode, with wide sweeping Coca-Cola’esq shots. The problem for me at this point the action is completely unwarranted. Very contrived and doesn’t add anything to the story line except to have an excuse to chase expensive (Bugatti Veyron) cars.
The whole foundation for this story is so rich in material they didn’t need to go into action-mode but instead keep it in the physiological thriller space. It started out very well, but went down hill quickly.
There is one scene where you get a sense that Bay was so pleased with himself with his Bad Boy stunts that he had to incorporate some of those in this outing. Literally there are some chase scenes, that are lit exactly the same, and you wonder if you are still in Miami.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good mindless action thriller and loved his
Armageddon outing with a tearful Bruce Willis. But The Island doesn’t warrant the Bay touch.
One is left wondering what this story would have been like without the action and given to another director to take over the line, say Ron Howard.
Definitely worth a watch to say you’ve seen it. Just don’t spend money on it.