Archive for the ‘Renny Harlin’ Category

Form as Function

The Bricklayer

Director: Renny Harlin

Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Nina Dobrev, Clifton Collins Jr, Tim Blake Nelson, Ifenesh Hadera, Ori Pfeffer

Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Film Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Millennium Media the film production company behind the Expendables franchise, delivers another paint by numbers action film this time with strong man Aaron Eckhart as the spy hero Steve Vail as the Philadelphia based “Bricklayer” in the new Renny Harlin directed film The Bricklayer also starring Nina Dobrev as Kate Bannon and the superb character actor Tim Blake Nelson (Nightmare Alley) as their CIA director O’Malley.

The Bricklayer is set in Thelassoniki in Greece and features Bannon and Vail as two completely different CIA operative who arrive in Greek port city to hunt the elusive villain Victor Radek, flamboyantly played by Clifton Collins Jr sporting a black bowler hat. Radek is seeking revenge against the American spy agency based in Langley, Virginia as he blames them for the death of his wife and child so he is executing certain key journalists as part of a larger strategy to assassinate the Greek deputy foreign minister.

Before the tough Vail and the rookie Bannon can make inroads in locating Radek they first have to deal with a Greek gangster Denis Stefanopoulos played complete with flashy suits and gold chains by Israeli actor Ori Pfeffer (Hacksaw Ridge, The Hitman’s Bodyguard).

Aaron Eckhart is having an interesting career having starred in both high profile films like Christopher Nolan’s the Batman Trilogy and in some quirky American films like Thank You for Smoking to Oscar winning films like Erin Brokovich, but he appears to be going the same route as Scottish star and action hero Gerard Butler which will always pay the bills and keep audiences satisfied.

The Bricklayer does not have a clear storyline but the action is solid, a sort of medium budget spy film and is saved by a salvageable onscreen chemistry between the two lead stars. Bulgarian actress Nina Dobrev (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage) holds her own as the female heroine and possible love interest although in The Bricklayer the script focuses more on the action and fighting sequences than any romance.

Capote star Clifton Collins Jr is perfect as the duplicitous villain Radek and Tim Blake Nelson has the best lines in the film as the stroppy non-nonsense CIA director O’Malley.

If audiences enjoy a great action film set in Greece, then The Bricklayer is recommended viewing and proves that the 56 year old actor Aaron Eckhart can hold his own as muscular action star.

The Bricklayer gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and won’t win any awards except some for corny images of American patriotism. It’s an entertaining action film which what the Los Angeles based Production Company Millennium Media always delivers.

Pillars of Strength

The Legend of Hercules

Legend of Hercules

 

Director: Renny Harlin

Cast: Kellan Lutz, Liam McIntyre, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins, Roxanne McKee, Liam Garrigan, Rade Serbedzija, Kenneth Cranham

After his roles in the Twilight series and in the lavish film Immortals, Kellan Lutz shows off his muscled torso in the action adventure The Legend of Hercules, directed by Finnish born action director Renny Harlin (The Long Kiss Goodnight, Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger). Hercules from his birth is destined for glory after his mother Queen Alcmene is inseminated by the powerful Greek God Zeus, making him a demi-God, ready to grow up and battle his evil stepfather King Amphitryon, played by Scott Adkins and half brother the vicious Iphicles played by Liam Garrigan who plan on expanding their Greek empire and taking Hercules’s Cretian love interest Hebe away from him.

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Its all super Greek Tragedy set in 3D with lots of barely clad Gretian soldiers battling it out from Heliopolis (modern day Cairo) to Sicily and back to Greece. This is essentially a popcorn flick and there won’t be any prizes for acting as most of the cast are unknown actors except for Rade Serbedzija (Taken) as Chiron and Kenneth Cranham (Layer Cake) as Lucius, the compassionate slave dealer. Best scene in the film is when the angry Hercules is captured and tied to stone pillars and he rips these pillars down which is spectacular especially in 3D. The action is fabulous, the acting mediocre, but audiences who love ancient Greek tragedies should see this film, but its not in the same imaginative league as the first 300 or as bloody as the recent sequel, 300: Rise of An Empire.

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There is a hefty dash of romance between Hercules and Hebe, played by Gaia Weiss of the Vikings TV series fame, especially lots of soft focus scenes in the Greek countryside, which borders on corny, but then again audiences get to see Kellan Lutz showing off his fantastic physique for the entire length of the film. The Legend of Hercules is not in the same league stylistically as Alejandro Amenabar’s fabulously conceived Agora or Zack Snyder’s 300, it is nevertheless fun to watch and shouldn’t be taken to seriously and definitely worthy entertainment.

If this film achieves anything it will be to introduces a 21st century audience to the ancient Greek myths and legends which seem to be perpetuated by Hollywood as much as the Shakespearean tragedies. The Legend of Hercules also stars Kenneth Cranham soon to be seen in Maleficient, Roxanne McKee, Johnathon Schaech (Ray Donovan TV series) and Liam McIntyre as Hercules’s wing man Sotiris. Fun, but not exceptional or even erudite cinema.

 

 

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