Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Merchant’

Twisted Sisters

The Girl in the Spiders Web

Director: Fede Alvarez

Cast: Claire Foy, Sylvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049), Lakeith Stanfield (Get Out), Stephen Merchant (Logan), Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Sverrir Gudnasson (Borg McEnroe)

For some reason I find Scandinavian films particularly dark and bleak. Maybe it’s their weather.

Director Fede Alvarez’s brutal retelling of Lisbeth Salander’s twisted family in The Girl in the Spiders Web is more like a female Bourne film than something as disturbing as the original 2011 English version film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo featuring an outstanding performance by Rooney Mara opposite Daniel Craig.

This time The Crown star Claire Foy fresh from her brilliant performance in Damien Chazelle’s First Man takes up the diverse role of Lisbeth Salander the tattooed hacker with a penchant for being one step ahead of her evil adversaries.

Blade Runner 2049 star Sylvia Hoeks plays Lisbeth’s malicious sister Camilla who trots around Stockholm in a fabulous red outfit and feels nothing for slitting people’s throats.

Swedish star Sverrir Gudnasson plays the young Mikael Blomkvist, the Millennium investigative journalist who comes to Lisbeth’s aid. Phantom Thread star Vicky Krieps plays a younger version of Erika Berger whose screen time is unfortunately severely limited.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is not as palatable or exciting as the 2011 film or the excellent Swedish versions of the original trilogy although Claire Foy demonstrates her range as Lisbeth Salander and her unquestionable ability to play an action star.

The violence is ruthless, the plot slightly confusing especially for audiences that have not seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but this updated film gives a fresh crop of young European and British actors a chance to tackle a nefarious Swedish thriller.

The Girl in the Spiders Web is really held together by Claire Foy and an exceptional Sylvia Hoeks aided by a superb performance by Christopher Convery as child prodigy and code breaker August Balder.

Given the excellent cast, The Girl in the Spiders Web could have been so brilliant, but Uruguayan director Fede Alvarez doesn’t quite held the intricate thematic strands of this web together.

The Girl in the Spiders Web gets a film rating of 6 out of 10 and is recommended for those that enjoy a murky Swedish thriller, which ultimately lacks panache and passion.

 

 

The Great Western Claw Slinger

Logan

Director: James Mangold

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elizabeth Rodriguez

Oscar nominee Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) has become synonymous with the role of the mutant Wolverine since Bryan Singer’s first film The X Men back in 2000. Now seventeen years later, Jackman reprises his role in director James Mangold’s cleverly titled Logan a sort of follow up to The Wolverine back in 2013.

The year is 2029 and there appears to be an absence of mutants on Earth, an arid planet ravaged by decades of global warming. Mangold who directed the tense Western 3:10 to Yuma seamlessly blends frontier mythology into Logan right from the beginning as audiences first see Logan aka The Wolverine in El Paso, Texas as a washed up middle aged Uber limo driver, all hairy and hard to like.

Logan is taking care of a frail and delusional yet still powerful Charles Xavier, a brilliant performance by Patrick Stewart, who has reprised his role in most of the X-Men movies.

Xavier keeps telling Logan that there is still one more powerful mutant out there. In a desperate call for help, Logan gets called to the shady motel room of Mexican immigrant Gabriela played by Orange is the New Black star Elizabeth Rodriguez who pleads with him to take the mysterious young girl Laura wonderfully played with an immense screen intensity by newcomer Dafne Keen to Canada for safety.

Soon X-Men adversary Donald Pierce and his band of nefarious gang members appear intent on hunting and killing Laura. Pierce, played by Boyd Holbrook (Gone Girl, The Skeleton Twins) is actually the henchman of mastermind Dr Rice wonderfully played by Richard E. Grant (Jackie, The Iron Lady) who unbeknownst to anyone has been harvesting mutant children in a dodgy clinic in Mexico City.

As Logan, Laura and Xavier head off across country from El Paso through to Oklahoma City, screenwriters Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green turn Logan into a Neo-Western road film, a more gritty adventure even referencing some classic Western films like director George Stevens 1953 film Shane and unlike the more CGI orientated X-Men films, Logan is more violent, nostalgic and resonates with a more mature audience. That predominately male audience is presumably the same viewers that started following The X-Men films back in 2000.

Jackman is suitably tough, menacing and conflicted as Logan and Dafne Keen who swops between Spanish and English is wonderful as the bratty teenage mutant, but what really gives Logan that gravitas is Patrick Stewart’s superbly dry performance as Xavier, once head of the school for mutants, but now a bitter and twisted old man being hunted by some evil cloners.

Logan is highly enjoyable and delivers on the action front with some stunning and violent action sequences especially in the first half of the film. However, the last quarter of the film could have been edited for dramatic effect despite the surprisingly poignant ending.

Walk the Line director James Mangold’s Logan gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10. Ultimately, the return of the hairy man aka The Wolverine has past his macho prime, yet his ferocious decline is highly entertaining viewing.

 

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