Posts Tagged ‘Alicia von Rittberg’

Blood Money

Our Kind of Traitor

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Director: Susanna White

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Damian Lewis, Naomie Harris, Jeremy Northam, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Pawel Szajda, Marek Oravec, Alicia von Rittberg, Jana Perez, Khalid Abdalla, Mark Stanley, Alec Utgoff

Based upon the bestselling novel by John le Carre, Iranian screenwriter Hossein Amini’s (Drive, The Two Faces of January) adaptation of Our Kind of Traitor to the big screen is spotless, peppering most of the dialogue with that dry British repartee.

British director Susanna White turns Our Kind of Traitor into a glossy cat and mouse game of international intrigue choosing to rather hint at bloodshed than actually portraying it.

Except for the opening sequence where a Russian money launderer, his wife and daughter are brutally murdered by the Blue Eyed killer played by Pawel Szajda (Under the Tuscan Sun), Our Kind of Traitor effortlessly shifts to a glamourous Moroccan resort in Marrakech where British couple Perry and Gail Makepeace expertly played by Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris (Skyfall, Spectre) are unwittingly drawn into a murky world of international intrigue when Perry befriends the exuberant Dima colourfully portrayed by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard.

Dima gives Perry a flash drive containing names of the Russian mob who are planning on setting up a shady Cypriot bank in London and Dima as money launderer for the head of the Russian mob, Prince, played by Grigoriy Dobrygin (A Most Wanted Man), knows that his family are under imminent threat.

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As the action moves from Marrakech to London, Perry is detained at Heathrow by suave Mi6 agent Hector, elegantly played by Damian Lewis of Homeland fame.

In the shadowy world of international money laundering Hector uncovers that there are indeed links between corrupt British MP Aubrey Longrigg played by Jeremy Northam and Russian mobster the Prince. In order to prove these links exist, Hector uses Perry and Gail to get close to Dima so that they can prove that such dubious transactions exist between Russian organized crime and the London financial district. Blood money as Hector so bluntly puts it to a genteel British government committee.

The action moves swiftly to Paris and then onto Bern, Switzerland, where Perry and Gail under orders of Hector make contact with Dima in order to secure the safe passage of Dima and his family out of Europe safely to British custody.

Our Kind of Traitor is an engaging and evenly paced thriller with just the right dash of exotic intrigue, hinting at a broader criminal conspiracy involving the Russian mob and London’s financial district whilst underlining the strain this covert involvement takes on the marriage of a seemingly affluent British couple.

With stylish production design by Sarah Greenwood and a polished script by Amini, Our Kind of Traitor manages to deliver a sophisticated and suspenseful thriller which most John le Carre stories are known for.

Viewers that enjoyed A Most Wanted Man and The Constant Gardener will love Our Kind of Traitor especially in the wake of a revival of most of Le Carre’s recently published novels to glossy film and television productions which recently includes the excellent AMC series The Night Manager starring Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston.

Our Kind of Traitor is highly recommended viewing for a superbly adapted thriller to the big screen with a particularly brilliant performance by Stellan Skarsgard as the brave but vicious Dima who will go to any lengths to protect his family.

 

The Brutal Education of Norman

FURY

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Director: David Ayer

Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerma, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Scott Eastwood, Jason Isaacs, Anamaria Marinca, Alicia von Rittberg

End of Watch director David Ayer tackles the war genre in the brutal drama simply entitled Fury assembling a stellar cast of great young actors including Shia LaBeouf last seen in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena (End of Watch, American Hustle) and Jon Bernthal and headed by the illustrious Brad Pitt (Legends of the Fall, Twelve Monkeys, Moneyball, The Counselor).

In a role similar to that played in Inglourious Basterds, Pitt plays Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a hardened soldier and Nazi killer who is heading up a tank squadron and who has seen his fair share of bloody battles. The tank in question is called Fury and as the Allies advanced into Germany during April 1945, these American tanks were combating the far superior designed German Panzers. As the brutal end of World War Two winds down, Hitler has ordered every last man, woman and child to defend their country against the advancing Allies.

Against this gritty theatre of war, the veteran Collier inherits a young and naive gunner named Norman Ellison superbly played by Logan Lerman who to his dismay went from being a typist in the US Army to manning a machine gun in an armoured tank. Its Collier’s job to toughen Norman up, even forcing him to shoot an unarmed German soldier as he brandishes pictures of his family to the American troops and desperately pleads for his life.

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As the five man team who drive Fury further into the German countryside, the situation gradually deteriorates as they first enter a German town obliterated by shelling casually coming across a suicide party of Nazi officers along with a scattering of scared German villagers and then near a farmhouse in the muddy countryside where they encounter an enemy infantry division marching towards them.

This is grim viewing with lots of bloodshed, superbly choreographed action sequences and unrelenting violence, cinematically brought to life with razor sharp sound effects, giving the viewer the sense of being involved in these gruesome final battles.

As opposed to George Clooney’s Monuments Men, David Ayer’s Fury deglamourizes war to its basic instinctual premise of kill or be killed and with excellent sound editing and effects, the film stands as a perfect counterpoint to The Imitation Game which elegantly showed war as a complex game of ingenuity and skill, clouded with espionage and intrigue.

Fury goes straight to the bloody and dirty heart of war and in its tag line aptly states that no war ends quietly. This is man fighting man with all the brutal savagery one has for each other’s enemies, as the victors march through the lands of the defeated.

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Fury is well acted especially by Logan Lerman (Noah) in one of his more substantial roles and definitely alludes to a talent waiting to be nurtured. The rest of the four man team adds a brave complement to Norman’s emotional and physical journey as a very young soldier who realizes he has to go to any lengths to stay alive. Fury will definitely appeal to war film enthusiasts and those viewers that enjoyed Saving Private Ryan, Lone Survivor and even the more stylized Quentin Tarantino war film Inglourious Basterds.

American director David Ayer has excelled with Fury which is highly recommended viewing aimed at a mature masculine audience that can appreciate the art of combat and the innate savagery of war itself. Fury is not for the squeamish and certainly not for those expecting a light hearted war romp like The Monuments Men.

 

 

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