Posts Tagged ‘Jeremy Renner’

The Universal Language

Arrival

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Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stulbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma

With a screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on the story “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang, French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s latest film Arrival gives Oscar nominee Amy Adams (American Hustle, The Master, Doubt) full scope to flex her truly extraordinary acting abilities.

Adams plays a Linguistics expert Dr. Louise Banks who is enlisted by the US army, when an alien space craft lands in Montana. However as Arrival gains momentum, it appears that there are 11 other similar alien space crafts that have landed unexpectedly in places throughout the world from The Sudan to Venezuela.

Banks is joined by Ian Donnelly played by Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town) as they become the proverbial couple who must make first contact with the aliens and decipher their complicated circular means of communication and ultimately discover what their true purpose is on earth? Are they friendly aliens or have they come to annihilate earth?

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As other nations around the world become increasingly hostile to the foreign ships in their territories, mainly China and the American military is becoming more trigger happy that the aliens which take the form of giant squid have malignant intentions, Banks and Donnelly must race against time to establish a pattern of communication to discover their real intention.

Skilfully shot and mostly done in a murky light, cinematographer Bradford Young photographs Arrival very dimly at first but soon as the narrative progresses, the film becomes brighter and more explanatory.

What really makes Arrival so distinctive a film, especially about the possibility of contact with alien life forms is the skillful direction of Villeneuve who portrays the contacts between Banks and the aliens in a non-linear form.

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Secondly, it is Amy Adams superb performance as Dr Louise Banks who is desperate to not only save humanity but forge a future for herself beyond this supernatural event. Adams is brilliant in this role and most of the screen time is taken up with her contradicted thoughts and emotional turmoil as the mental toll of what she is trying to achieve is distinguishable in every frame.

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Whilst the rest of the cast including Renner and Oscar winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) playing Colonel Weber along with character actor Michael Stulbarg as Agent Halpern all inhabit peripheral roles, it is Amy Adams’s performance which makes Arrival so absorbing to watch.

Visually the film is dark and almost perplexing but director Villeneuve handles the subject matter of first contact so elegantly that for moments, audiences will forget they are watching a sci-fi film.

Arrival is an extraordinary film with many intuitive moments much like the Universal Language that Dr Louise Banks discovers and ultimately ends on a poignant note, without resorting to corny or special effects laden farce. Arrival is a cinematic treat exploring how we as human beings assimilate language, despite there being so many different variations. Highly recommend viewing.

 

 

 

Clash of the Superheroes

Captain America: Civil War

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Director: Anthony and Joe Russo

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Daniel Bruhl, Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, William Hurt, Paul Bettany, Martin Freeman, Tom Holland, Alfre Woodard, Frank Grillo, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan, Paul Rudd, Emily Van Camp, John Kani, Marisa Tomei

I was never a fan of superhero comics as a kid, but as an adult, the superhero films have captured my imagination. Who can forget The Dark Knight Trilogy by Christopher Nolan who reinvented Batman? Or the recent Batman v Superman blockbuster by Zack Snyder, a sure precursor to the Justice League films set for release in 2017 and 2018?

Moving away from DC comics, their direct rival Marvel has expanded their superhero universe exponentially and in the third installment of Captain America: Civil War, a more iconic superhero pops up, Spiderman curtesy of a Marvel and Sony sharing agreement to reinvent Spiderman within The Avengers universe. Smart move on the part of Marvel and especially Sony whose two previous Spiderman reincarnations were faltering: The Amazing Spiderman and its psychedelic sequel.

Captain America: Civil War features a plethora of superheroes, so many in fact that the inevitable showdown which the title refers to is quite spectacular to behold.

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Captain America leads the one camp as he defends his friend Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier, played by Sebastian Stan along with the help of Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon played by Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Antman), Antman played by the hilarious Paul Rudd, Hawkeye returning from retirement played by the roguish Jeremy Renner.

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The other camp is headed up by opinionated tech billionaire Iron Man, wonderfully played again by Robert Downey Jnr, joined by the War Machine played by Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2) and Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson. Tony Stark aka Iron Man also enlists the help of a young and precocious Peter Parker, wonderfully played by young British actor Tom Holland (The Impossible) as he reinvents Spiderman promising an energetic reinvention when Holland will appear in his stand alone film called Spiderman: Homecoming.

Adding some much needed diversity to The Avengers universe, Black Panther played by Chadwick Boseman (Gods of Egypt), who is also starring in his own origin Black Panther film coming in 2018 also joins team Iron Man as he aggressively fights Bucky Barnes who he believes is responsible for the death of his father, a suitable cameo by South African acting legend John Kani (Coriolanus, The Ghost and the Darkness).

While the Clash of the Superheroes is spectacular and at times appears like a spandex orgy it is really Daniel Bruhl (Rush, Woman in Gold) as the master villain Zemo who has instigated the division between the Avengers as revenge for what occurred in The Avengers: The Age of Ultron, in which his whole family was killed in a supernatural skirmish in some fictional East European country.

Captain America: Civil War is a superb superhero film as the Russo brothers who direct this third instalment of the Captain America trilogy dexterously managing to combine all these diverse superheroes in a brilliant duel whilst also introducing some new and iconic characters. Fans of Iron Man, Ant Man and all The Avengers films will relish this caper standoff sure to capture the imaginations of many Comic con fans and paving the way for Marvel’s relentless cinematic expansion of all their gang of masked crusaders, a sure rival to DC Comics Justice League, although both superhero franchises will definitely benefit financially at the box office.

Captain America: Civil War is highly recommended viewing especially for some superb cameos by seasoned character actors including William Hurt, Alfre Woodard, Martin Freeman and Marisa Tomei.

 

 

Manifestation of Destiny

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

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Director: Christopher McQuarrie

Cast: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Sean Harris, Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hollander, Ving Rhames, Simon McBurney

Tom Cruise reunites with Jack Reacher director Christopher McQuarrie in the fifth instalment of the hugely successful Mission Impossible franchise with the latest film, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Unlike the Brad Bird directed Ghost Protocol, which was lavish and outlandish, Rogue Nation is a more grittier and muscular spy thriller, both written and directed by McQuarrie, with pristine cinematography by Robert Elswit and returns to a more European feel which the original Mission Impossible film had back in 1996 classically directed by Brian de Palma.

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Cruise is joined again by Jeremy Renner (Ghost Protocol, The Avengers), Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible 1,2 and 3) and Simon Pegg (Ghost Protocol, Star Trek Into Darkness).

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The female role is brilliantly taken up by the blue-eyed Swedish actress Rebecca Ferguson (Hercules) as the femme fatale British agent Ilsa Faust who gives her male counterparts a run for their money.

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Sean Harris (Prometheus) plays the sinister silver-haired villain Soloman Lane with a steely reserve and a distinctly British coldness, who is the mastermind behind the syndicate controlling several rogue agents hence the term rogue nation.

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Alec Baldwin (The Cooler, Still Alice) plays the exasperated IMF chief who has to answer to the bigwigs at Langley, Virginia and orders Brandt played by Renner to find the elusive Ethan Hunt, still expertly played by Cruise who is on a covert mission in Vienna, Austria to uncover the sinister syndicate, a supposed spook organization made up of international ex-spies which are responsible for all sorts of nefarious worldwide events from plane crashes to assassinations. The Vienna sequence during a performance of Turandot at the Opera House is clearly inspired by The Quantum of Solace, and earlier Bond films and is superbly choreographed.

The action moves swiftly to the exotic location of Casablanca, Morocco to what must be one of the best sequences in the film, the breaking in at a desalination plant on the outskirts of the city, which naturally leads to a spectacular chase sequence involving BMWs and motorbikes ending up along a desert highway.

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation has all the hallmarks of a classic British spy thriller and as the nail biting narrative returns to London in the closing section of the film, the brittle spy jargon is superbly written by McQuarrie with such lines as “Ethan Hunt is the Manifestation of Destiny”.

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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is highly recommended, beautifully paced, eloquently written and the muscular action sequences will not disappoint right up to the suspense filled climax. Fans of the previous films will enjoy Rogue Nation and hope that this is surely not the end of a hugely successful and fascinating film franchise which has always had amazing stunts, brilliant action sequences and exotic locations, the bespoke ingredients of any spy thriller.

 

 

Comic Book Pastiche

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett, Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Spader, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Stellan Skarsgard, Thomas Kretschmann, Julie Delpy, Andy Serkis, Anthony Mackie.

The Avengers are back in director and writer Joss Whedon’s much anticipated sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron featuring all the Marvel superheroes and some new ones in a CGI laden special effects extravaganza, which is at times confusing and other times absolutely fascinating. At a running time of two hours and twenty minutes, director Whedon has sufficient screen time to flesh out all the characters individually as well as give nuance to some of their more complicated relationships.

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Like the relationship between The Hulk, aka Bruce Banner wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) and the Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson who seems to be the only avenger that can calm the Hulk’s penchant for destructive anger.

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The relationship between goodie two shoes Steve Rogers aka Captain America, played by Chris Evans and Nordic God Thor played by the hunky Chris Hemsworth is also subtly explored considering that the former is a World War two hero and the latter from another dimension.

Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as egotistical Billionaire Tony Stark, aka Iron Man and his irrepressible desire to mould any technological discovery, in this case the power artificial intelligence to his own advantage.

The Age of Ultron refers to the ubiquitous Altron a powerful A.I. force which is hell bent on human destruction and vain enough to realize that he can survive the aftermath, beautifully voiced with an underlying menace by James Spader (Bad Influence, more recently in the hit TV show The Black List).

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The sexy Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton aka Hawkeye ‘s character is fleshed out as a devoting family man which is entirely incongruous with his status as a member of the Avengers, but hey who cares?

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Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play evil orphaned Eastern European twins Pietro and Maximoff who soon turn on Ultron when they realize his megalomaniac tendencies. Even Lord of the Rings’ Andy Serkis makes an appearance as a South African mercenary Ulysses Klaue and the Johannesburg downtown sequence is truly phenomenal to watch as is the action scene in Seoul, South Korea.

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If audiences get confused with who all the avengers are, there are ample filmic references to each of their own background stories from Thor: The Dark World, including a brief appearance by Idris Elba and also Captain America’s Agent Carter, played by Hayley Atwell. Marvel is indeed expanding their universe exponentially and if The Avengers: Age of Ultron’s audience figures are anything to go by, this will prove to be another superhero box office smash hit.

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The Avengers: Age of Ultron is fun entertainment and definitely aimed at Iron Man, Thor and Captain America cinema fans especially all the witty references and innuendo’s involving lifting Thor’s hammer which are neatly laced into a script which may seem convoluted but then again when it comes to Artificial Intelligence its more an infinite mess which at some point needs to be reined in.

Audiences should look out for brief cameos by Anthony Mackie, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Delpy, Don Cheadle and Thomas Kretschmann. If The Avengers: Age of Ultron appears to be a pastiche of all the previous Marvel films, then director Joss Whedon has certainly achieved the impossible, not to mention making a narrative out of the dangers of artificial intelligence plausible and entertaining.

It’s best for audiences to suspend their disbelief and enjoy The Avengers: The Age of Ultron for what it is: a comic book orgy with a giant budget and loud, awe-inspiring special effects which will be sure to nurture any young adult’s imagination for awhile.

 

 

 

The Veracity of the Story

Kill the Messenger

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Director: Michael Cuesta

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Rosemarie DeWitt, Robert Patric, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Oliver Platt, Paz Vega, Andy Garcia, Ray Liotta, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Kenneth Williams, Barry Pepper, Michael Sheen, Gil Bellows, Dan Futterman

Oscar nominee for The Hurt Locker and The Town, Jeremy Renner plays the real life investigative journalist Gary Webb, who while working for the San Jose Mercury News uncovers a complex story involving the CIA, crack cocaine, money laundering and the funding of the Nicaraguan Contra Rebels to topple the Sandinista lead government in a dirty war in the Central American nation – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaragua.

Gary Webb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Webb expertly played by Renner was best known for his Dark Alliance series of articles which gained international media attention before the days of Wikileaks, which uncovered the origins of crack cocaine on the streets of South Central Los Angeles and allegedly traces its roots and funding back to the CIA which was using the profits of the drug sales to fund the Contra Rebels in Nicaragua in the mid 1980’s to the 1990’s.

Whilst the crux of director Michael Cuesta’s film Kill The Messenger is about media ethics it also delves deeper into the murky world of career and character assignation when the established media houses included The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post claimed that Webb’s explosive articles could not be substantiated by credible sources as most of those were shady drug runners, secretive government operatives and vanishing Swiss bankers in Panama City.

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The revelations sparked outrage in many of the African American communities of America’s major cities especially Los Angeles. The drug ring helped escalate a crack cocaine epidemic on the streets of many of these cities and more shockingly the profits were being used by the CIA and also paved the way for the Colombian drug cartels to enter the American market.

Webb’s Dark Alliance series focused on the links between three men, Danilo Blandon; Ricky Ross played by Michael Kenneth Williams and a more elusive Norwin Menezes played by Andy Garcia.

What Kill the Messenger shows is that in the days before instant online information leaks which have characterised the 21st century that the American Intelligence community did anything to discredit the author of the story and in this case Webb’s own career and life suffers tremendously when he directly names the CIA in a complex tale of money-laundering, drug running and political interference.

Webb soon resigns from the San Jose Mercury News and takes up a less prolific post in Cupertino, California, while his relationship with his wife and children suffer immensely, as witnessed by his wife Sue played by Rosemarie DeWitt as Sue wife and teenage son Eric played by Matthew Lintz both whom can see that Webb has become a victim of a calculated smear campaign to basically discredit him as an investigative journalist.

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Throughout the entire disownment of the story by established media houses including an internal investigation into the veracity of the sources by Webb’s own newspaper San Jose Mercury News, Webb is convinced that his Dark Alliance series has truth and merit, which besides any investigative flaws did manage to inflame the African American community to demand answers from the Director of the CIA as to the unrelenting flood of crack cocaine in their neighbourhoods.

There is a fundamental shift in Kill the Messenger, which director Cuesta handles intelligently in that the film ceases to be about the story that Webb has uncovered but more about Webb as a person with all his character defects. There is a line in the film which sums this up – “If you put a man under a microscope then all his life’s flaws and discrepancies will come to light”

Renner acts the part of Gary Webb intensely and passionately as he soon realizes that he has become the story and not what his story was about, something not too dissimilar to what has happened to contemporary whistle blowers such as Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Kill the Messenger is a fascinating portrait of an investigative journalist who uncovers an international web of corruption, lies and money laundering only to find himself the victim of his own story. Unfortunately the veracity of the story takes its toll on the storyteller.

Cuesta’s film whilst filled with a sprinkling of character actors including a fabulous cameo by Mexican actress Paz Vega and loads of directorial embellishments is not a perfect film, but certainly a provocative story which at least vindicates Gary Webb’s own personal battle to get the truth out there, despite the costs. Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed The Fifth Estate, All the Presidents Men and The Paperboy.

 

 

Doves of the Bandit Roost

The Immigrant

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Director: James Gray

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Renner, Dagmara Dominicyk, Angela Sarafyan

With glorious sepia coloured cinematography by Darius Khondji, Ellis Island and early 1920’s immigrant New York comes to life in director James Gray’s period film The Immigrant, nominated for the 2013 Palm d’Or.

Oscar Winner for La Vie en Rose, French actress Marion Cotillard, speaking both English and Polish gives a complex and nuanced performance as Catholic Polish immigrant Ewa who after arriving on Ellis Island is soon rescued by the crazed opportunistic pimp Bruno, superbly played by Joaquin Phoenix (The Master, Gladiator). The formidably and talented Joaquin Phoenix seems to be director James Gray’s cinematic partner and has starred in most of his films including The Yards, Two Lovers and We Own The Night.

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Desperate to return to Ellis Island to rescue her sister Magda (played by Armenian actress Angela Sarafyan) who has been quarantined for a contagious lung infection, Ewa soon enters quite bravely into a life of prostitution and cheap vaudeville theatre orchestrated by the erratic sometimes violent Bruno.

With a confident flourish Bruno introduces Ewa to the Doves of the Bandit Roost, a sleezy peep show and late night dive spot for immigrant lowlifes. This is New York in 1921 as prohibition has just been enforced and the raunchy social dynamics has been thrust underground.

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Conflicted by what she is forced to do to get money and her overwhelming desire to rescue her sister Magda, Ewa, gorgeous and enigmatic, brave and brazen gets caught between the unpredictable Bruno and his seemingly more stable cousin, a freelance illusionist Orlando, played with flourish and against type by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town). Ewa first captures a glimpse of the illustrious Orlando when she is sent back to Ellis Island and becomes an unwilling witness to one of his spell bounding illusions.

Soon affection develops between Orlando and Ewa, yet their mutual admiration is constantly thwarted by the controlling and threatening Bruno, who is desperate to make money out of his group of woman who he open flaunts to paying customers under tunnels in New York’s Central park.

New York born director James Gray presents a captivating if slightly dim view of the harsh realities of immigrants which arrived in the Big Apple in their thousands following the end of the WW1 leaving a poverty stricken and ruined Europe behind, always in search of the illusive, yet treacherous American Dream.

Naturally Cotillard is ravishing and believable as Ewa and the on screen chemistry between her and Phoenix is palpable almost to the point of tragedy much like it was between Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep in the superb film Sophie’s Choice, set almost three decades later.

The Immigrant is majestically shot, evocative, moody and brilliantly acted. It’s a classic melodrama reminiscent of early Italian Neo Realist films of the late 1940’s. The ambience and production design is beautifully recreated of early 20th century New York in a narrative which highlights that the hardships facing immigrants to any new country are perennial and just as relevant now as it was almost a century.

Lovers of atmospheric melodramas focusing on a nuanced yet doomed love triangle, will enjoy The Immigrant, but for many this film will have a very limited appeal.

That Seventies Con!

American Hustle

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Director: David O. Russell

Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Shea Wingham, Robert de Niro, Alessandro Nivola, Michael Pena

Acclaimed director of Silver Linings Playbook, David O. Russell delivers another cinematic masterpiece with his latest film American Hustle about a couple of con artists in New York in 1978 during the Disco era. Think fabulous Seventies costumes, broad Jersey accents, big hair, the brilliantly ensemble cast of American Hustle all deliver top notch acting along with some sassy flair and loads of self-deception.

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Oscar Winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) is brilliant as  Irving Rosenfeld a two-bit con artist with a chain of dry cleaning businesses which also double as a front for selling fake art to unsuspecting New Yorkers who teams up with Sidney/Edith a sexy pole dancer turned grifter superbly played by Amy Adams (Doubt, The Fighter) at a Jersey pool party in January!

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Together the ever glamorous Edith sporting a fake British accent and the smooth talking wily potbellied Irving unveil their small scams selling unsuspecting lines of credit to gamblers, pimps and two bit hustlers. However their duplicitous lives are crossed by unstable Richie diMarso energetically played by Bradley Cooper (Place beyond the Pines), complete with a perm and a pent-up attitude who is in fact an FBI agent out to catch bigger fish from corrupt politicians to American mobsters who control the Florida casinos in Florida are looking to reinvigorate Jersey’s den of iniquity Atlantic City with its newly acquired gambling licences.

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The setting is New York, 1978 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, when the American public are distrustful of smooth taking politicians and economically hangover from a 1977 oil embargo and a costly Vietnam war. Director Russell captures the ambience of the late 1970’s Americana perfectly heavily influenced by the films of that period including The French Connection, American Gigolo and even the 007 film Live and Let Die. As the narrative unfolds a complication comes in the form of the no-nonsense confident chain smoking wife of Irving, Rosalyn Rosenfeld, a knockout performance by Jennifer Lawrence, last year’s Oscar winner for Silver Linings Playbook.

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American Hustle follows a cleverly scripted and elaborate plot about these four drifters and cons who not only try to out wit the FBI, the mob and a shady Jersey politician Mayor Carmine Polito a well coiffed Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Legacy) involving shifting money for fronting an imaginary investment into the revitalization of Atlantic City casinos. Oddly enough the con also involves funds from a mysterious Abu Dhabi Sheik, comically downplayed by Michael Pena who is in fact Mexican.

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Amy Adams gives a tour de force performance as Sidney/Edith a vulnerable yet shrewd woman who can smooth talk any man out of his cash which is certainly Oscar worthy along with the rest of the brilliant ensemble cast making up regulars from David O. Russell’s two previous hit films Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter.

Alessandro Nivola (Coco Avant Chanel), Robert de Niro (Casino) and Shea Wingham (Savages, Take Shelter) also make a welcome appearance. Any viewer who experienced or grew up in the sassy disco inspired 1970’s will appreciate every aspect of authenticity of this ambiance infused con drama featuring magnetic performances by the four leads along with a witty, comic and incisive script co written by Russell and Eric Warren Singer.

American Hustle is a sophisticated sexy adult drama dripping with menace and deception, complete with a dynamic plot in the lines of Stephen Frears excellent The Grifters and Sam Mendes American Beauty. It’s the ultimate homage film about that Seventies Con featuring the unrivalled power of intention and people’s limitless capacity for survival, love and betrayal.

Lethal Legacy Continues

The Bourne Legacy

Tony Gilroy the screenwriter for the original three Bourne movies takes the director’s chair in the fourth installment of the Bourne movies The Bourne Legacy featuring an all star cast including Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, Rachel Wiesz as Dr Marta Shering. The Bourne Legacy also features Edward Norton as Eric Nyer and Stacy Keach as Mark Turso along with brief appearances by David Strathairn, Joan Allen and Albert Finney. The Bourne Legacy has all the excitement, espionage and action of the first three Bourne movies except for Jason Bourne himself, whose character lurks in the fourth installment as a shadow, with this film’s tag line being suitably appropriate There was never just one.

The Bourne Legacy picks up soon after the third Bourne film ends, The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) when Jason Bourne played by Matt Damon deftly vanishes into the Manhattan morning traffic, swopping its urban location for icy Alaska where viewers are introduced to Aaron Cross bringing a muscularity to the role is the superb Jeremy Renner another drug-modified recruit employed by a shady covert agency within the CIA, battling hungry wolves and his own survival in this gorgeous Alaskan wilderness.

Matt Damon in the first two Bourne films always had this stern yet slightly confused look on his face as he was globetrotting across Europe trying to work out who wanted him dead without vocalize his unique dilemma. Jeremy Renner is wonderfully vocal and expressive in his portrayal of Aaron Cross who soon has to flee Alaska and head for Maryland to discover the supplier of the shady drugs he is taking from a less than orthodox Pharmaceutical company in Bethesda, Maryland.

Cross soon teams up with Marta who after surviving a horrific laboratory shooting, trusts in Cross as her number 5 patient and they flee America for the Philippines.  The Bourne Legacy might lack some of the directorial flourishes of the more experienced action directors of the original visceral Bourne Trilogy Doug Liman (Mr and Mrs Smith) and Paul Greengrass (United 93), but retains all the traits of the original movies: exotic locations, shady government agencies and of course a brilliant chase sequence in the overpopulated streets of Manila.

Two particular noteworthy scenes are Cross’s encounter with a wolf in Alaska and the superbly shot motorbike chase sequence in Manila. The chemistry between Wiesz and Renner is genuine and they make a great onscreen couple something which was lacking in the original films especially when Matt Damon’s love interest Franka Potente was eliminated in The Bourne Supremacy.

The Bourne Legacy continues in the tradition of the first three films and viewers who have seen that trilogy will be impressed by Tony Gilroy’s recreation of the Bourne universe complete with physical violence, ruthless assassins and spectacular action sequences complete with some really well timed dialogue especially between Renner and Wiesz. Gilroy as director was also responsible for the superb Michael Clayton and Duplicity and does not disappoint in The Bourne Legacy. The chase sequence in the Philippines deserves an Oscar for Best Sound Editing. Recommended viewing for those who love spy thrillers and enjoy Jeremy Renner’s always unnerving on screen performances as seen in The Hurt Locker and The Town and proves that Renner has what it takes to be a leading man.

Initiating Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Surviving the Sand Storm

The fourth instalment of the Mission Impossible films is simply fantastic and exceeds the dimensions and downfalls of the last two Mission Impossible films. Directed by Brad Bird, Tom Cruise returns as IMF agent Ethan Hunt whose tag line “this is your mission should you choose to accept it”, takes special agent Hunt from the Kremlin in Moscow to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai to a fantastic 007 sequence in Mumbai complete with seduction, missiles and a superb action sequence.

While Mission Impossible 3 featured Philip Seymour  Hoffman as the elusive villain and was a much more bloody and heart pounding film with chase sequences in Berlin and Shanghai, it is Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol that shows that while Tom Cruise might be getting older, he certainly has not lost his touch as one of the quintessential action film stars of the last three decades.

In Ghost Protocol this is helped by a more robust and slimmed down supporting cast including Jeremy Renner from The Hurt Locker and The Town,  Paula Patton, Simon Pegg and Michael Nyqvist as the villain from the Swedish films of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is fabulous for the spectacular stunt  sequence at the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai sandstorm car chase while the Mumbai automated car storage sequence and is definitely a homage to all the hugely popular James Bond franchise.

All the Mission Impossible films are formulaic but it is that perfect formula which works: daring action hero taking on an elusive villain whilst performing dangerous stunts in exotic international cities. All the films have allowed for great cameos by a host of international stars including Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anil Kapoor, Vanessa Redgrave and Kristin Scott Thomas to name a few. Ghost Protocol does not disappoint for all the fans of the previous three films and this fourth instalment does hint at more to follow especially with the competent Jeremy Renner in the cast…

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