Posts Tagged ‘Jai Courtney’

Boston Bandit

Honest Thief

Director: Mark Williams

Cast: Liam Neeson, Kate Walsh, Jai Courtney, Jeffrey Donovan, Anthony Ramos, Robert Patrick

Director of A Family Man, Mark Williams brings macho tough guy Liam Neeson back on the big screen to star as Tom, a retired bank robber, known as the In and Out Bandit who decides upon meeting a lovely woman, Annie played by Kate Walsh (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) to announce to the FBI the location of the millions stolen over his dubious career of theft and armed robbery.

Fortunately, Annie works in a suburban Boston storage unit facility where the money is located. However, the bad apples in the FBI come to find where the money is hidden and Tom has to go up against the two rogue agents Agent Nivens wonderfully played by Australian actor Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad, The Exception, A Good Day to Die Hard) and married father of two, Agent Hall played by Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born).

Agent Nivens proves to be the most ruthless of the duo when he casually shoots his boss Agent Sam Baker played by Robert Patrick (Safe House, Walk the Line) setting off a chain of events whereby Tom goes after Nivens on the Boston streets while desperately trying to save Annie from harm.

Tom’s only ally in the FBI proves to be the by the book divorced Agent Meyers expertly played by Jeffrey Donovan (J. Edgar, Changeling).

While The Honest Thief does not match up to the adrenalin fuelled excitement of the Taken films, it is a down to earth suburban thriller which is enjoyable and has some unexpected plot twists.

The Honest Thief is worth watching and gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and while the dialogue does drag in places, the action picks up and the plot is cleverly constructed.

Go and see The Honest Thief in a cinema and support the economically stressed cinema chains during these trying times of streaming and awkward social distancing.

The Exiled King

The Exception

Director: David Leveaux

Cast: Jai Courtney, Lily James, Christopher Plummer, Janet McTeer, Eddie Marsan, Ben Daniels, Anton Lesser, Mark Dexter

After its packed South African premiere at the 38th Durban International Film Festival, http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/ The Exception is a riveting World War II drama told from the German perspective.

Set in Holland in 1940, German soldier Stefan Brandt played with bravado by Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad, A Good Day to Die Hard) is sent to guard the exiled king Wilhelm II wonderfully played by Oscar winner Christopher Plummer (Beginners).

At the end of World War One when the allies defeated Germany, besides the harsh reparations placed on the defeated nation, one of the conditions of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was that the reigning German monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II be stripped of his royal title and sent to live in exile in Utrecht, Holland.

British director David Leveaux assembles a fantastic cast in this interesting film also starring Lily James (Baby Driver, Cinderella) as a sexually provocative Dutch maid Mieke de Jong who quickly falls in love with the handsome and tough Brandt and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) as Kaiser Wilhelm’s wife, Princess Hermine who is desperately hoping that her exiled husband will have his monarchy restored even though Germany has entered the Third Reich under the ruthless Nazi’s who have started World War II.

Eddie Marsan (Their Finest, Happy Go Lucky, Concussion) appears as the creepy Head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, in a brief yet comical scene stealer.

As a historical film, The Exception is a watchable tale, filled with intrigue, sexual conquest and lost dreams although its relevance will be lost on a mostly English speaking audience and also because most of the cast are British, Canadian or Australian actors playing German characters. If audiences want authenticity they should watch the excellent 2015 German film, The People vs. Fritz Bauer, which also premiered at #DIFF2017 http://www.durbanfilmfest.co.za/ as part of the German Film Focus.

Nevertheless, as a World War II thriller which deviates from the usual Allied scenario, The Exception is enjoyable in the same vein as director Mark Herman’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

What does stand out in The Exception, are the fine performances of Christopher Plummer and Janet McTeer but sadly their acting will probably be overlooked in the 2018 Oscar race.

Concisely written with an engaging plot, The Exception gets a film rating of 7.5 out 10 and was an impressive film to be screened at the Durban International Film Festival, attracting a full cinema house.

Recommended viewing for audiences that prefer a provocative World War Two thriller from the perspective of the so-called enemy.

 

Lunacy Prevails

Suicide Squad

suicide_squad

Director: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Jared Leto, Cara Delevigne, Common, David Harbour, Scott Eastwood, Ezra Miller

After David Ayer’s impressively realistic war film, Fury, it was announced that he would be directing the highly anticipated and edgy superhero film, Suicide Squad.

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Assembling an international cast would be easy. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman and Oscar nominee Viola Davis were all on board but the real casting coup was having Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) play the Joker.

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Big crazy shoes to fill for Leto considering Oscar winner Heath Ledger did such a sterling job of playing The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s visually impressive The Dark Knight in 2008. And then there was Oscar winner Jack Nicolson’s wacky portrayal of Gotham’s most deranged villain in Tim Burton’s Batman back in the 1989.

So Suicide Squad is finally released with huge expectations including a brilliant trailer but is this new superhero film that mind-blowing? If viewers watch this film as a precursor for Warner Bros’s DC Comics expanding their cinematic universe following Batman versus Superman and the highly anticipated The Justice League to be released in 2017, then Suicide Squad will satisfy fanboys globally.

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What saves Suicide Squad is Margot Robbie’s exuberant performance as the psychopathic killer Harley Quinn who also happens to be The Joker’s deranged girlfriend.

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Equally good in Suicide Squad is Oscar nominee Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt) who plays a hard-nosed and ruthless head of a covert government organization and the brainchild behind assembling such a crazy bunch of humans and meta-humans to save Midway City, where the only bond tying the psycho killers together are a shared lunacy and the prospect of continued incarceration.

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What works against Suicide Squad is having such a young villain, model turned actress Cara Delevigne as the evil Enchantress whilst Leto’s crazy Joker has diminished screen time, but then again Leto is returning in The Justice League, so we shall see.

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Suicide Squad does lose the plot slightly, but as a superhero film especially with David Ayer at the helm, it could have been far edgier and definitely much sexier. This is where Deadpool got it right. If you are going to subvert the superhero genre do it properly especially with such a deranged cast of characters. The use of continued flashbacks in the narrative also detracts somewhat from the primary storyline.

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Despite the steam punk production design, Suicide Squad is not a brilliant film and certainly does not live up to its hype, but will be savoured by all superhero fanboys and if one views the film as a precursor to great things to come then it is outrageously entertaining. Audiences should definitely stay seated beyond the final credits.

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Unfortunately Will Smith and Joel Kinnaman seem to fumble in the film but that is primarily because they do not have sufficiently grittier and bloodier material to work with, a style which director David Ayer is more accustomed to.

See Fury to appreciate where Ayer’s real talent lies.

Mother Russia Explodes

A Good Day to Die Hard

Yipee Ki-Yay not another one!

Yipee Ki-Yay not another one!

Bruce Willis’s fifth attempt to resuscitate the Die Hard franchise 25 years after the original Die Hard, is very thin on plot and big on action. A Good Day to Die Hard features an explosive and riveting car chase sequence through the streets of Moscow and is perhaps the film’s only redeeming feature. The rest of the film through a very light story line attempts to reconnect Willis’s bad-ass New York cop character John MacClane with his slightly inexperienced son Jack MacClane  played by Jai Courtney last seen in the Tom Cruise thriller Jack Reacher.

A Good Day to Die Hard is pure action and lacks some of the witty one liners or plot twists of the previous Die Hard films, most notably Die Hard and Die Hard 3 failing to make the most of its best asset that of the location of Moscow in Russia, the first film to be set outside the United States.  A Good Day to Die Hard also does not feature a convincing villain and if the success of Skyfall is to go by, an evil villain really makes a truly successful hero.

Unlike Alan Rickman (Die Hard) or Jeremy Irons (Die Hard: With a Vengeance)  playing notable villains in the previous Die Hard films, this Russian mastermind Komarov played by German actor Sebastian Koch bent on robbing Chernobyl of a stockpile of uranium is entirely implausible. The only character to cast in depth of feeling is MacClane’s daughter Lucy played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, but her part is minimal as the main focus shifts to explosive father, son male bonding enough to make Mother Russia cry as buildings, cars and half of Moscow are randomly destroyed.

Bruce Willis looks a bit old to be flying off exploding buildings and carry enough artillery to wipe out a small Caribbean nation, but then that said that is half the appeal for him appearing in such films as Red, The Expendibles 2 and the upcoming G I Joe sequel, GI Joe: Retaliation. Jai Courtney is marginally good as a CIA operative who is caught way out of his depth in a Moscow prison hostage negotiation which go completely awry.

The narrative gaps are just too great to make any real sense of what the purpose of making A Good Day to Die Hard other than milking an already average Die Hard Franchise way past its expiry date. This is baseless action, which is albeit entertaining but not deeply meaningful and should be treated as a great popcorn sequel, an inevitable money spinner that Hollywood is good at churning out despite the diminishing appeal by Willis as the main character John MacClane.

A Good Day to Die Hard is an idiots guide to making a sequel, with an obvious visual clue of MacClane leaving an American airport with a travel handbook, the Idiots Guide to Russia boarding an Aeroflot flight for Moscow. This film is only for real action fans and will definitely appeal to the male teenage target audience.

Arsenal of Intrigue

Jack Reacher

Get Jack Reacher!

Get Jack Reacher!

Tom Cruise returns to the big screen as Jack Reacher in the title role, a less glamorous version of  Ethan Hunt in the Mission Impossible Franchise a untraceable drifter who gets called to Pittsburgh following a multiple sniper shooting incident leaving four people dead. Jack Reacher is directed by the screenwriter of Valkyrie Christopher McQuarrie and based upon the book by Lee Child who turns out an evenly paced suspense thriller with Reacher teaming up with the District Attorney’s daughter Helen Rodin played by Rosamund Pike to help solve a seemingly senseless crime leaving five innocent people dead expertly shot in broad daylight in Pittsburgh.

Jack Reacher uses military training and a quirky way to get to solve the crime and find out who really is behind the seemingly sense killings. Unlike the horrific real-life massacre at Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012, there does appear to be a motive behind the senseless act of violence in downtown Pittsburgh which occurs in Jack Reacher as the film not only looks at the alleged perpetrator but also at the victims. Soon the real criminals are exposed along with a dodgy Georgian (ex-Soviet Union) corporation taking over the American construction industry.

Whilst Jack Reacher is a well-timed suspense thriller, one gets a feeling that Tom Cruise’s days playing an action hero are numbered. Although that said Bruce Willis is still churning out Die Hard sequels. Despite the random violence explored, there is underlying sense in the film that America is never going to allow its citizens to forfeit their right to bear arms, as outlined in the second amendment.

Jack Reacher is an engaging action film especially as a crime reconstruction thriller, with Cruise naturally holding his own as the unconventional recession-hit action hero, using other people’s cars and catching buses. Watch out for a brief appearance by German film director, actor and screenwriter Werner Herzog as the arch villain. Interesting casting to say the least and unfortunately the talented Richard Jenkins is underutilized in Jack Reacher, but remains necessary as does Robert Duvall to create a strong supporting cast.

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