Archive for the ‘Baltasar Kormakur’ Category

Laws of the Jungle

Beast

Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Cast: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley, Leah Jeffries, Iyana Halley, Martin Munro

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Running Time: 1 hour 33 minutes

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur brings Beast to the big screen starring Idris Elba (Molly’s Game, The Mountain Between Us) as an American doctor Dr Nate Samuels who takes his daughters to their late mother’s homeland in South Africa and fits in a safari adventure that turns into a nightmare.

Beast is shot entirely in South Africa near the borders of Zimbabwe and Namibia, Beast tracks the survival story of Dr Samuels and his two daughters as they team up with a South African game ranger and anti-poacher played thankfully by South African actor Sharlto Copley who made his breakthrough in Neil Blomkamp’s sci fi Johannesburg epic District 9 and went on to star in such Hollywood films as Gringo and Maleficent.

When a gang of vicious poachers kill a pride of lions but leave the male lion free, the ferocious male lion takes revenge on everyone in his territory including a Venda village and some of the poachers. When Dr Samuels and his South African friend Martin unknowingly step into the rogue lion territory all hell breaks loose and he has to fight this monstrous beast in the rough terrain of the South African veld while protecting his two daughters Norah and Meredith Samuels played respectively by Leah Jeffries and Iyana Halley.

As the rogue lion persistently threatens Dr Samuels and family, poachers are killed as well as innocent villagers however Beast does feel one dimensional with no counterpoint to the bush fight to balance the film out.

Using some ethnic dream sequences, Dr Samuels reminisces about his late South African born wife, however these vivid flashbacks are not sufficient to create a credible backstory for his character.

As a story about anti-poaching and conservation, Beast works efficiently, like nature fighting back at the evils of mankind although ultimately the rogue lion steps into another pride’s territory and soon has to deal with the laws of the jungle. Unfortunately the script writer could have fleshed out the story’s premise more accurately to allow some credible background to the central character. Fortunately Idris Elba is a good enough actor to make the audiences believe in his instinctive fight for survival, which is both exciting and scary.

It is comforting to watch a film being made in South Africa which focuses on the issues of wildlife poaching and the importance of conservation while making Beast a thrilling, edge of your seat ride about man versus beast, with the former trying to outwit the latter in some horrific scenes ending in a savage showdown.

Beast is an enjoyable survival film with a distinctly African feel and gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10. It’s a refreshing take on the man versus nature scenario in line with films like Jaws and to a lesser extent Anaconda.

Blowing up Corpus Christi

2 Guns

 two_guns_ver2

Director: Baltasar Kormakur

Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Edward James Olmos, James Marsden, Fred Ward, Paula Patton, Bill Paxton

Denzel Washington (Flight, Safe House) and Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Contraband) star in the Boom studios graphic novels film version 2 Guns, which is a basically a Tex Mex version of 48 Hours with all the classic formulaic traits of a buddy action film, reminiscent of the 1980’s complete with snappy dialogue and explosive action. Oscar winner Denzel Washington plays tough DEA agent Bobby Trench who unwillingly teams up with sexy and smart Michael Stigman played by former Calvin Klein underwear model Mark Wahlberg as they blow up diners with the best donuts in town in a Texas border town as a means of distraction against robbing a nearby bank packed with loads of Mexican drug cartel dollars.

Muchos dineros in Spanish means lots of dollars and Washington and Wahlberg both get more than they bargained for when they discover the amount of loot, which not only belongs to the shady Mexicans across the border but is wanted by Naval Intelligence and a vicious CIA operative which have been keeping the Mexican drug cartels in business.

Three groups of gangs are on their tail from the CIA in the form of Earl superbly played by Bill Paxton (Titanic, Haywire), a rogue Naval intelligence unit headed by Quince, played by James Marsden (a welcome change from his pretty boy image as seen in Hairspray) and a Sonora Mexican drug cartel headed up by the bull loving Papi Greco wonderfully played by Edward James Olmos (recently seen in the TV series Dexter as the Doomsday Killer).

Add in to this crazy mix is Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) as the voluptuous Deb another DEA agent serving as some eye candy for the clearly male targeted audience and the usual chaos which ensues when Trench and Stigman decide to trust each other enough to team up together, making the convoluted plot twists more plausible by a fantastic onscreen chemistry between the two Hollywood heavy weights.

Denzel Washington as the tough and elusive Bobby Trench, while Oscar Nominee Mark Wahlberg as the eye-winking younger and sharp-mouthed wise guy clearly makes 2 Guns not just worth watching, but highly enjoyable and humorous, filled with car chases, bull-running and an explosive sequence at a naval base in Corpus Christi, Texas. Watch out for a great cameo by Fred Ward as a Naval Commander Admiral Tuwey.

2 Guns, by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur who also directed Wahlberg in Contraband unapologetically takes much inspiration from such 1980’s classic action films as Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours and Beverley Hills Cop, and while there is less comedy and more action, it is a thoroughly entertaining way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Lots of violence, swearing and bull running, this machismo action thriller, complete with a Mexican standoff is a wonderful pairing of these two talented Hollywood megastars.

The likeable talented duo of Washington and Wahlberg effortlessly produce that onscreen chemistry which is casual, cool and funny. 2 Guns is recommended for those that enjoy US-Mexican cross border drug running bank robber films without the insane gore and menace of Savages or No Country for Old Men.

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