Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Reynolds’

Amsterdam Kill Run

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Director: Patrick Hughes

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, Sam Hazeldine, Rod Hallett, Richard E. Grant

Despite an international cast, director Patrick Hughes stylistically violent action film The Hitman’s Bodyguard becomes a warped buddie movie with Samuel L. Jackson starring as Darius Kincaid a foulmouthed assassin who unwillingly teams up with the executive protection agent Michael Bryce played by Canadian Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds.

After an explosive opening sequence in Manchester, England and then followed by an equally hectic sequence in Coventry, Bryce is tasked with transporting Kincaid intact to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands to testify against evil Belarussian dictator Vladislav Dukhovich played by Oscar nominee Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) complete with dodgy accent.

What was Gary Oldman thinking appearing in such a film?

Then again what was another Oscar nominee Mexican star Salma Hayek (Frida) thinking appearing as the equally foulmouthed Honduran jailbird Sonia Kincaid wife to Darius?

Even the two sequences with Hayek and Jackson are drizzled in bloodshed which is pitiful considering that it detracts from any potential onscreen chemistry.

Clearly all the stars involved in The Hitman’s Bodyguard did not act in this film to further their careers.

Then again, obviously the director of The Expendables 3, Patrick Hughes knows that his audience is not going to take the film too seriously if he packs The Hitman’s Bodyguard with excessive violence that the film becomes stylistically nauseating especially considering the events that are currently happening in 21st century Europe including multiple random acts of terror in every city from London to Barcelona.

The only redeeming feature of The Hitman’s Bodyguard besides the onscreen sparing between Reynolds and Jackson is the multi chase sequence in Amsterdam involving a ski boat, motorcycle and various vehicles along the Dutch canals.

Action fans will be satisfied as basically every city featured in The Hitman’s Bodyguard gets shot at and blown to smithereens from Manchester to Amsterdam to The Hague.

Unlike director Edgar Wright’s excellent Southern crime caper Baby Driver, the action sequences in The Hitman’s Bodyguard is repulsively manufactured and the violence is deliberately pornographic. The story is definitely thin on content which underscores the question why such normally bankable stars including Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman and Samuel L. Jackson would consider acting in such an excessively violent film without a pause to think what the real cinematic message conveys: That violence is acceptable internationally?

Even the brief appearances by character actors Richard E. Grant and Portuguese star Joaquim de Almeida as a sinister Interpol agent do not redeem the narrative in any significant way.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is big on action, violence, bloodshed and a massive body count (mostly of mean looking Belarussians) and low on nuanced content. Entertaining to an extent but way over done.

Goodbye Moon, Goodbye Stars

Life

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Olga Dihovichnaya, Ariyon Bakare

What made director Ridley Scott’s The Martian such an enjoyable film was the emotional tension between Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney stuck on Mars and the ground crew desperately trying to return him safely back to earth. This emotional tension is lacking in Safe House director Daniel Espinosa’s sci-fi thriller Life, which has an unimaginative title.

This sci fi thriller Life should not be confused with the 2015 Anton Corijn film Life about James Dean or the earlier film 1999 Eddie Murphy film also called Life. Seriously, couldn’t the screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick think up a more imaginative title?

Except for the onscreen chemistry between Rebecca Ferguson (Florence Foster Jenkins) as Dr Miranda North and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) playing Dr David Jordan on board the doomed International Space Station circling above Earth, Life relies too heavily on the storyline of Ridley Scott’s Alien film franchise without delivering any of the inherent shock value.

Life centres on a multinational group of astronauts who inexplicably bring back a living organism from Mars which is initially carefully nurtured by Hugh Derry played by Ariyon Bakare. The organism is affectionately nicknamed Calvin and only through a brief sequence shot in Time Square in New York featuring children looking forward to humanity’s future with this alien life form still supposedly being cultivated safely on the space station above our planet.

Soon things go horribly wrong as Calvin turns into a malevolent starfish which transforms into a bloodsucking slimy creature intent on destroying all humans on board the spaceship. As each of the crew members starts dying off, Life tries to keep the visual intensity going with some superb camera work yet fails to deliver an original storyline.

Set almost entirely on board the spaceship, Life is as bland as the visually impressive Morten Tyldum film Passengers. Both films just fail to engage although at least with Passengers the sexy chemistry between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence was far more palpable.

Daniel Espinosa’s Life is watchable viewing held together by a brilliant twist at the end but unfortunately the story line is nothing original even lacking in orchestrated suspense. Ultimately, Life suffers from falling under the shadow of a far more superior horror film, Ridley Scott’s 1979 smash hit Alien featuring a breath taking performance by Sigourney Weaver as Ripley.

A watchable but not brilliant film, Life unfortunately succumbs to an overpopulated film genre which has been outstripped by the Alien franchise and more recently Alphonso Cuaron’s Oscar winning Gravity.

Despite the inventive camera work, Espinosa’s Life gets a rating of 6.5 out of 10.

 

 

Subverting the Superhero

Deadpool

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Director: T. J. Miller

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T. J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, Kyle Cassie

When the film’s director also appears as the barman Weasel and the superhero’s closest friend, audiences should really suspend their disbelief. In the case of the cinematic telling of Marvel’s most risqué superhero, the foul-mouthed, wacky Deadpool aka Wade Wilson, audiences should completely just take the entire story with a massive dose of salt or Xanax. After all who can take Deadpool seriously?

Director T. J. Miller, also seen as Deadpool’s confidant Weasel, version of a superhero movie is so off the wall, so hilarious and so unconventional that even the traditional X-Men franchise would shy away from this mutant’s malevolent antics. Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds (Blade Trinity, Green Lantern) certainly keeps the character of Deadpool alive and suitably quirky, with a fast paced wit and attitude too match. Essentially an anti-hero to boot, Wade Wilson falls in love with the gorgeous Vanessa played by Brazilian actress Morena Baccarin (Spy) last seen on the small screen in Gotham and Homeland.

Their romance goes swimmingly with loads of sexual innuendo thrown in until Wade Wilson collapses and is soon diagnosed with a rare cancer which will effectively devastate his vital organs.

Wade Wilson desperate to find an alternative seeks the help of a shady recruiter and is soon at the mercy of the evil Ajax played by Ed Skrein who relentlessly subjects Wade to days of torture, eventually forcing him to become a mutant, and with that Deadpool is born.

Deadpool as a film does not have much of a plot but relies heavily on the inappropriate and quirky script with Reynolds firing off brilliant one-liners throughout while embarking on a quest to seek vengeance for the torturous transformation he received at the hands of Ajax.

Deadpool enlists the help of some distant X-Men characters, namely Negasonic Teenage Warhead, to fight the villain and soon the battle against good and evil is as murky and bloody as it is funny and to be honest quite ridiculous. But hey who cares?

Audiences should go and see Deadpool for the script right? Which is the best part of a film that even from the opening credits continually subverts the superhero genre.

Sure to find a cult following amongst the hardcore comic book fans, Deadpool certainly is original, hilarious and kinky in an ex-rated fashion, but maybe that’s because the superhero’s outfit resembles a Sado-Masochism suit. Audiences can judge for themselves but Deadpool is definitely recommended only for serious Superhero fans and Comicon devotees, who will be relieved to know that there is a sequel on the cards…

 

A Dazzling Restitution

Woman in Gold

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Director: Simon Curtis

Cast: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Katie Holmes, Daniel Bruhl, Jonathan Pryce, Frances Fisher, Max Irons, Elizabeth McGovern, Charles Dance, Tatiana Maslany, Moritz Bleibtreu

My Week with Marilyn director Simon Curtis, follows up the success of that film with the brilliant Woman in Gold about art restitution based on a true account of how Maria Altmann an Austrian refugee fought to get Gustav Klimt’s famous and dazzling portrait of her aunt, Woman in Gold restored to her as the rightful owner after it was illegally seized by the Nazi’s in Vienna during the rise of the Third Reich in Europe.

Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Queen) heads up an eclectic cast as Maria Altmann who approaches a young lawyer also of Austrian descent, Randy Schoenberg wonderfully played by Ryan Reynolds in one of his best screen performances to date to take on the Austrian government in reclaiming the gorgeous painting, which is in fact a family heirloom, now hanging in the Belvedere gallery in Vienna, Austria.

Woman in Gold is set in 1998 in Los Angeles with frequent flashbacks to the late 1930’s in Vienna which also charts the daring escape of young Maria, boldly played by Tatiana Maslany and her fiancé played by Max Irons (The Riot Club) from the Nazi’s who eventually flee to America, leaving her parents and all their wealth and possessions behind.

Director Simon Curtis deals with the thorny and sensitive issue of Art restitution in a nuanced and intelligent way which gives balance to both sides of this deeply complex case. Like George Clooney’s Monument’s Men which dealt also with the Nazi’s sacking Europe of its artistic treasures, Woman in Gold specifically focuses on this case and the exquisite painting Woman in Gold by the illustrious Austrian Cubist artist Gustav Klimt, which is like the Mona Lisa of Austria and a sign of national identity.

The fact that the value of the painting is worth well over R100 million dollars also adds impetus to Randy’s fight but more than that is the emotional toll it takes on both characters as they fight for justice amidst contemporary bigotry and the rightful ownership of a hugely recognizable painting.

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Woman in Gold is ably assisted by a wonderful supporting cast including Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Katie Holmes (Pieces of April), Frances Fisher (The Lincoln Lawyer, Titanic), Charles Dance (White Mischief) and Jonathan Pryce (Carrington, Tomorrow Never Dies) but it is essentially held together by the superb performances of Mirren and Reynolds who despite their age difference make the film a fun, informative and deeply emotional quest to correctly addresses the wrongs of the past, in the name of art restitution and justice.

The fact that the international legal fight goes to the Supreme Court, which takes both Schoenberg and Altmann to Washington DC raises the level of the film along with the apparent assistance of the heir to the Estee Lauder fortune.

Woman in Gold is a fascinating, must see film for art lovers, and lovers of intelligent historical films which addresses a very topical and complex issue of restitution, which in this case dazzles with beauty. Highly recommended viewing.

No One is Safe in the Mother City

Safe House

Rogue agents run riot in Cape Town

Taking its cue largely from the Bourne Trilogy and heavily influenced by the filmic style of Paul Greengrass who directed United 93 and The Bourne Supremacy, Safe House pairs a superb Denzel Washington with Ryan Reynolds in a gritty CIA Action thriller set mainly in and around Cape Town. Washington plays hard-edged rogue agent Tobin Frost who after escaping a shootout in downtown Cape Town, calmly walks into the American consulate seeking refuge. Reminiscent of Denzel Washington’s Oscar winning role in Training Day, this is a similar story of an experienced agent teaching a young junior level CIA officer all the tricks of the murky world of international espionage, replacing the Los Angeles crime world for the counter-espionage exotic Cape Town while Reynolds in his first action-role since the luke-warm super hero film Green Lantern is surprisingly brilliant as Matt Weston, stationed in Cape Town and whose primary job is to run a covert CIA safe house in the middle of the Mother City.

Safe House directed by Swedish born director Daniel Espinosa is a gritty, violent and action-packed edge of your seat thriller with some stunning car chases and even more daring and bloody fight scenes notably in the Greenpoint Stadium and Langa township sequences.

Providing counterbalance to the action occurring in a foreign city, is the scenes at Langley, Virginia, CIA headquarters with Oscar Nominee Vera Farmiga playing Catherine Linklater and Weston’s boss, David Barlow played by Brendan Gleesan who both head down to the Western Cape, South Africa to try and catch up with the rogue agent and his younger guardian, while the intelligence boss played by Sam Shepard remains set on containing  the truth.

The film style is realistic, gritty and tinged with a murky tone, influenced by The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Swedish version painting the usually glamourous Cape Town as a shady international city filled with foreign operatives from dodgy Nicaraguans to rogue MI6 agents, but definitely highlighting the city’s strategic importance on the global stage.

The pairing of Washington and Reynolds works beautifully and the latter holds his own as an ambitious CIA agent who is eager to achieve his own ambitions, whether by force or deceit. Worth watching!

Cheeky Green Superhero

Green Lantern

Bond film director Martin Campbell, who was responsible for the hugely popular Casino Royale and Goldeneye takes a new directorial route with the Sci-fi superhero action film The Green Lantern starring the gorgeous and ever quirky Ryan Reynolds as a hapless Californian pilot first appearing in a pair of tight whiteys, who is accidentally bestowed huge responsibility by a dying purple alien to quell the disruptions facing the galactic status quo caused by the unleashing of Parallax, a menacing evil force which has come back to haunt the realm of the Green Lanterns.

Going Green and Saving the Universe

With the help of a tight-fitting Green costume, cool mask and a rather large green ring, the irresponsible jet pilot Hal Jordan, played with relish by Reynolds is the first human to become a Green Lantern and is able to fly, create objects in space and generally be very malleable with his own willpower.

The only problem with casting Ryan Reynolds as the green clad cheeky superhero was that it was very difficult to take him seriously in this role after he was so brilliant in such comedies as The Proposal but is no stranger to Superhero films as he appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Blake Lively seen briefly in the brilliant film The Town appears as the female lead, Carol Ferris and although there is a great supporting cast including Mark Strong, Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett, The Green Lantern whilst it remains entertaining fails to supercede X-Men: First Class and is not even in the same league as The Dark Knight or the hugely popular Spiderman franchise which were released at the beginning of the 21st century.

Green Lantern firmly rooted in science-fiction remains more comic than action and the film looses its impetus and becomes another superhero film about men who have severe father complexes. Both the Green Lantern, aka, Hal Jordan and the villain Hector Hammond are men who are desperately trying to live up to the legend their fathers were, while Hammond simply takes vengeance, Jordan as the Lantern shows that all the galactic responsibility has proven that he is a man capable of saving the Earth from utter devastation.

What saves The Green Lantern is the quirky acting of Ryan Reynolds and the wonderful onscreen chemistry between him and the rising star Blake Lively. As superhero films go, this Lively Lantern is thrilling but by no means unique. The story line is straight out of superman and lacks the panache or psychological profile which makes some superhero films so utterly compelling such as Batman Begins and Hellboy.

Bruce Wayne the complex Super Hero

Martin Campbell should stick to more gritty action films which are more his style like the Bond films, The Mask of Zorro and the excellent but under rated thriller Edge of Darkness starring Mel Gibson before his spectacular fall from grace.

The overkill of superhero movies only points to a trend in recent big budget studio film making which is taking audience away from the blinding realities of common existence and allowing them to escape into a world  of super egotistical hyper-realized potential where the super hero in everyone is waiting to be unleashed. A concept that America firmly believes in. Watch out for more superhero films being released including the aptly titled Captain America. Escapism at its most comical yet undeniably entertaining!

A Far More Stylish Hero

 

 

 

Return of the Hairy Man…

Return of the Hairy Man: Wolverine, Terminator Salvation and Zack and Miri make a Porno…

So in these time of global economic gloom, a clean-shaven, metrosexual is not your saviour. Besides all these good-looking, well-dressed beautifully groomed corporate types were the ones lending money out to those hapless citizens who were fiscally irresponsible. Investing in outlandish off-shores accounts, allowing an international unregulated banking system to flourish in a world where credit was supreme, and sensibilities had gone out the window. In the times of a crisis, strong hairy men are here to save the world!

That’s if the batch of summer blockbuster action and comedy films is anything to go from the archetypal X-Men Origins: Wolverine directed by South African Gavin Hood to the hilariously off the coffee counter, Zack and Miri make a Porno. Whether the world has come to a sticky and apocalyptic end in the monochromatic world of Terminator Salvation, with an unshaven Christian Bale as John Connor, all grown up and ready to take on Skynet or audiences discover the real origins of the gorgeously sexy hairy beast of a man, well, mutant, Wolverine who along with a band of fellow unshaven mutants is out to wreck havoc on an suspecting America, the truth be told that clearly the Hairy Man has returned!

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a fantastic action film appealing to the younger testosterone filled male generation, which tells of how Wolverine and his brother Sabretooth, an equally hairy and deadly character played with sinister panache by Liev Schreiber fight each other, the world and all those in between, including every major world war from the Napoleonic era to Vietnam. Even the normally clean-shaven Canadian actor, Ryan Reynolds is quite revealing in his role as Wade Wilson but then let’s not discount that Reynolds did appear in the Blade Trilogy.

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Terminator Salvation paints a grim and grimy picture of a post-nuclear blasted world where the Skynet controlled Robots have wrecked havoc on America with the cities resembling industrial junkyards from hell. Christian Bale returns in another blockbuster but here again, as in the far superior The Dark Knight, it is his co-star that steals the shows. The Dark Knight, such a brilliant film of anarchy reigning supreme featured the flawlessly demented performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker and now in Terminator Salvation it is the more subtle less frenetic performance of Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright who is propelled into a future abyss only to discover redemption is beyond his electronic grip…


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On a lighter note, and much more grounded in the present day recession-laden America is Kevin Smith’s fantastically funny and very raunchy film Zack and Miri make a Porno, about a couple of loser flat mates in Pittsburgh that realize that the financial crisis calls for more drastic measures. Seth Rogen saves the film as the unsexy but very hairy, Zack next to the gorgeous demurely (I kid you not) Miri, played by Elizabeth Banks. Rogen plays every type of hairy anti-hero with such effortless wit and perfect comic timing, who manages to save his reputation, make some underground cash and with the help of an extra-terrestrial cast make a Porno! Watch out for superb cameos by Brandon Routh (from Superman fame) and the delightful Justin Long at Zack and Miri’s reunion…

Although all three films are vastly different, it denotes a new fashion of fury heroes ready to save us from the grim realities of the strange 21st century recession obsessed reality most Western nations find themselves in.

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