Archive for the ‘Martin Campbell’ Category

Searching for Mr Hayes

The Protege

Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Maggie Q, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Malahide, Robert Patrick

Polish Vietnamese actress Maggie Q embraces her Vietnamese roots in the action film The Protégé deftly directed by Casino Royale director Martin Campbell as she plays an assassin Anna who seeks to avenge the death of her mentor Moody played again by the ubiquitous Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction).

Anna travels from her plush London residence to Da Nang in Vietnam to track down the mysterious Mr Hayes played by Patrick Malahide (The World is Not Enough, Mortal Engines) but first she has to encounter the rather elegant fixer Rembrandt wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Michael Keaton (Birdman).

Michael Keaton steals the show in The Protégé lighting up the screen with his razor sharp one liners as he banters with Maggie Q in a sizzling scene stealer at a lavish restaurant in Da Nang, which is clearly inspired by any Bond film more specifically The Man with the Golden Gun.

While the script for The Protégé is a bit sketchy and there are large sections of the storyline which are completely glossed over until the final 15 minutes of the film, director Martin Campbell manages to keep the slick adult action film entertaining and exciting with enough exotic locations to cloak this entire film in a 007 vibe but without the budget or the production studio to elevate the film onto a higher level.

Nevertheless, The Protégé is action-packed and enjoyable, cruel and elegant, an engaging storyline which is saved by a brilliant performance by Michael Keaton who saves this thriller from being formulaic despite a body count to rival The John Wick franchise.

There is a brief appearance by Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgement Day) as an American biker guy Billy Boy and Samuel L. Jackson just plays another version of himself which audiences have seen in countless similar roles.

The Protégé is a great way to spend two hours, with plenty of action and enough exotic locations from Romania to Vietnam to keep audiences satisfied, however one cannot shake the feeling when watching this film, that it is entirely B-grade but necessary and fun.

The Protégé won’t win any awards but it’s an entertaining assassin action film with shady characters and an unexpected twist that is both riveting and explosive. Michael Keaton is by far the best in the film.

The Protégé gets a film rating of 6.5 out of 10 and is worth seeing just to witness the on screen chemistry between the gorgeous Maggie Q and Michael Keaton.

Gambling with Ellipsis

Casino Royale

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Director: Martin Campbell

Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelson, Judi Dench, Jesper Christensen, Jeffrey Wright

After a four year hiatus with the Lee Tamahori directed Die Another Day, (2002) the hugely successful Bond franchise returns with a glossy and brilliant cinematic adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first novel, Casino Royale originally published in 1953.

Director Martin Campbell (Goldeneye) updates Fleming’s novel to the 21st century and the Bond franchise controversially introduces the new blond Bond, a blue eyed hunk named Daniel Craig whose film credits include Love is the Devil and Sylvia.

Judi Dench reprises her role as M while Jeffrey Wright takes on the role of Felix Leiter. Bond girl and femme fatale, Vesper Lynd is coolly played by the French actress Eva Green (The Dreamers) and the villain, a swindler, money launderer and compulsive gambler the infamous Le Chiffre is wonderfully played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen.

With a gritty opening sequence in Prague followed by a spectacular stunt and action sequence in Madagascar, viewers are reintroduced to Bond as a tough, rebellious British secret agent who is after the elusive source of Ellipsis, codename for an international terrorist money laundering ring with ties to Le Chiffre and his overseer the mysterious Mr White played by Jesper Christiansen, first seen in the Ugandan jungle.

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As the action moves swiftly around the world from The Bahamas to Montenegro to Venice, Casino Royale is a superb and ambitious adaptation of the 007 novel, as all the central characters gamble with each other’s lives and motives, with Bond even getting caught in a horrendous torture sequence nearly breaks his British patriotism as well as his manhood. Bond’s love for Vesper Lynd is consecrated in a Hotel room in Montenegro while he is in between playing in an international high stakes poker, superbly teased out and the onscreen chemistry between Craig and Mikkelsen as Bond and Villain is palpable and nefarious.

Complimenting this classic hero/villain tension is the intense partnering of Bond and Lynd, with a matching chemistry between Green and Craig, showing that both actors are consummate performers and expertly cast together.

Besides the awesome stunts, the superb action and the intense gambling, Casino Royale belongs to Daniel Craig who makes the role of Bond his own and really proves his weight as the new Bond for the 21st century, as demonstrated recently with two more Bond films Quantum of Solace (2008) and the hugely popular Skyfall (2012).

Retrospectively Casino Royale pays homage to all the elegant Bond films of the 1960s especially Dr No and Goldfinger as well as the Pierce Brosnan films of the late 1990s such as Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Gone are the spectacular sets and outlandish plots of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker which characterised the Bond films of the 1970’s, even though those films were the most popular of the Roger Moore series.

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Casino Royale is glossy film noir with a great supporting cast, exotic locations and some jaw dropping sequences including the iconic shot of Daniel Craig emerging out of the Caribbean surf in nothing but swimming trunks, oddly enough paying homage to Dr No and Die Another Day.

Casino Royale is 142 minutes long and by far one of the best Bond films made in the expanding 007 filmography, memorable, thrilling and unsuspectingly heart wrenching. This is definitely a vintage Bond film and one to keep for all the ardent franchise collectors. Absolutely Brilliant.

Ideally Casino Royale should be watched before Quantum of Solace as the two films complement each other stylistically and the plot follows on chronologically.

 

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

 

 

 

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