Posts Tagged ‘Ana de Armas’

The Heracles Project

No Time to Die

Director: Cary Jojo Fukunaga

Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malik, Lashana Lynch, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ana de Armas, Christoph Waltz, Jeffrey Wright, Rory Kinnear, Billy Magnussen, Ben Whishaw, David Dencik, Dali Benssalah

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 43 minutes

In the highly anticipated 25th Bond film which was delayed for 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were determined to wait until they could screen No Time to Die on cinema screens and their wish was granted.

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond and Ana de Armas as Paloma in NO TIME TO DIE, an EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Finally with the release of No Time to Die, all the original cast from Spectre are back plus some new additions including Ana de Armas (Knives Out, Blade Runner 2049) as Paloma, Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) as Nomi and the excellent Rami Malek as the villain Lyutsifer Safin. The sophisticated French actress Lea Seydoux (Spectre, The Grand Budapest Hotel) reprises her role back as Dr Madeleine Swann.

Rami Malek stars as Safin in NO TIME TO DIE, an EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Oscar winner Rami Malik (Bohemian Rhapsody) relishes the role of Bond villain echoing Dr No, a psychotic megalomaniac who is violent and will stop at nothing for world domination. Naturally Lyutsifer Safin has his own private island in the disputed waters between Japan and Russia, a nod to You Only Live Twice.

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in NO TIME TO DIE, an EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Daniel Craig is brilliant in his fifth and final outing as James Bond navigating a shifting cultural and social world, representing in essence the sassy and glorious character of Noni wonderfully played by Lashana Lynch as we first glimpse them interact in a nightclub in Jamaica.

Lashana Lynch stars as Nomi and Daniel Craig as James Bond in NO TIME TO DIE, an EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Ralph Fiennes is back as M, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw are also back as Moneypenny and Q respectively. Jeffrey Wright is back as CIA agent Felix Leiter. All the usual suspects appear.

Daniel Craig stars as James Bond and Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann in NO TIME TO DIE, an EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Without revealing any of the complex and protracted plot, containing some massive surprises, No Time to Die is an impressive Bond film, slightly weighty in the middle but cinematically perfect with crisp production design by Mark Tildesley and gorgeous cinematorgraphy by Linus Sandgren.

As the action moves around the globe, from Italy to the tropical beaches of Jamaica to Norway and then to the Safin’s futuristic lair on a disputed island which is clearly inspired by Blade Runner 2049, No Time to Die will simultaneously keep Bond fans in awe and frustrate those that have been loyal to the franchise since its original inception back in 1962 with Dr No. So much has changed.

No Time To Die is a very long film, running at 2 hours and 43 minutes but it’s worth seeing for the glorious scenery, the unbelievable stunt sequences and the amazing plot twists while the screenwriters pay homage to many of the previous Bond films and even transcending the 007 franchise and updating the technology to the 2020’s.

What remains to be seen is where will the franchise go from here?

Beautifully directed by Cary Jojo Fukunaga, No Time to Die is a technically brilliant film with an amazing international cast which will keep audiences literally on the edge of their seat. No spoilers were revealed, so viewers just go and find out what all the fuss is about.

No Time to Die gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is highly recommended viewing.

A Reason to Kill For

Knives Out

Director: Rian Johnson

Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon, LaKeith Stanford, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Riki Lindhome, Edi Patterson, Frank Oz, Noah Segan, M. Emmet Walsh, Marlene Forte

Looper and Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson takes a delicious stab at the murder mystery genre in his quirky new film Knives Out featuring an all-star ensemble cast headed by Oscar winner Christopher Plummer (Beginners).

With an original screenplay by Rian Johnson, Knives Out centres on the mysterious death of crime writer Harlan Thrombey on the night of his 85th birthday at his sprawling estate in Massachusetts.

Thrombey expertly played with a sly viciousness by Plummer has his multi-generational family gather for his birthday which includes his daughter Linda Drysdale played by Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, A Fish Called Wanda), his son-in-law Richard Drysdale played by Don Johnson (Django Unchained) and his son Walt Thrombey played with evil intent by Oscar nominee Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals, Revolutionary Road) and daughter-in-law Donna Thrombey played by Riki Lindhome.

Then there is the widow of the dead son, Joni Thrombey played by Toni Colette (Muriel’s Wedding, Madame) who is hanging onto the family for financial security.

Harlan Thrombey’s grandchildren is headed by the spoilt playboy apparent heir, aptly named Ransom Drysdale played by Chris Evans (Snowpiercer), followed by the sneaky granddaughter Meg Thrombey played by Australian actress Katherine Langford (Love Simon) and the nerdy youngest grandson Jacob Thrombey played by Jaeden Martell (St Vincent).

The two characters which really steal the show are the Southern detective Benoit Blanc played against type by Daniel Craig (Casino Royale, Logan Lucky, Snatch) and more significantly Harlan Thrombey’s devious yet devoted South American nurse Marta Cabrera played by rising Cuban star Ana de Armas (Blade Runner, Overdrive).

Knives Out is a classically original murder mystery expertly written and directed by Johnson who is clearly influenced by Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock whereby every character has a reason to kill for.

As the plot unravels like an Egyptian cobra revealing several motives for killing the patriarch of this eccentric family is to claim from the his vast fortune and inherit the sprawling country estate.  

If audiences love a superb murder mystery filled with a fantastic ensemble cast and originally written to dazzle and surprise the viewer, then be sure to catch the quirky and murderous Knives Out. It’s vastly entertaining.

Knives Out gets a film rating 8 out of 10 and is strictly for lovers of a classic murder mystery in the vein of the Oscar winning Robert Altman film Gosford Park, while making subtle hints at the themes of patronage, inheritance and immigration.

Marseilles Mix Up

Overdrive

 

Director: Antonio Negret

Cast: Scott Eastwood, Freddie Thorp, Ana de Armas, Gaia Weiss, Clemens Schick, Simon Abkarian

Legendary Hollywood actor and director Clint Eastwood’s son Scott Eastwood seems to be making a prolific career for himself in film. Scott Eastwood’s onscreen appearances is like watching the younger version of Clint Eastwood when he was the favourite star of the Sergio Leone spaghetti Western films such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars.

Besides starring in Suicide Squad and Fury and soon to be seen in Pacific Rim Uprising, Scott Eastwood stars in the European action thriller, Overdrive directed by Colombian director Antonio Negret and also starring British actor Freddie Thorp. The pair star as renegade car thief half-brothers Andrew and Garrett Foster.

Written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma) Overdrive clearly gets inspiration from the 1980’s Lethal Weapon films and more recently the Fast and Furious franchise.

Whilst the plot is a bit thin, the luxury cars are plentiful and the onscreen brothers are helped by two gorgeous co-stars Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049) and Gaia Weiss (Legend of Hercules) as they are hired by local Marseilles mobster Jacomo Morier played by Simon Abkarian (Rendition, Casino Royale) to steal cars, mainly beautiful red Ferrari’s, from a rival German crime boss Max Klemp played by Clemens Schick (Point Break, Casino Royale).

Set in Marseilles, port city on the French Riviera, audiences can expect lots of grandiose car chases through spectacular scenery overlooking the Mediterranean. Overdrive is really entertaining except for the poor sound quality especially when it came to the dialogue although luckily the dialogue wasn’t sophisticated.

If audiences love fast cars, beautiful women and chic French locations then they will love Overdrive. Besides those ingredients, there is not much to make this film exceptional.

Overdrive gets a film rating of 6 out 10. Recommended for those that enjoyed the Taken action film trilogy but without the grit.

 

Replicants Rising

Blade Runner 2049

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Ana de Armas, David Dastmalchian, Edward James Olmos, Barkhad Abdi, Sylvia Hoeks, Tomas Lemarquis, Mackenzie Davis, Sean Young, Hiam Abbass

When Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner appeared on cinema screens in 1982 it was hailed as a visionary science fiction film about replicants in Los Angeles in 2019.

The film developed an instant cult following and become a prime example of Post Modern Film Noir, with its blend of 1940’s costumes coupled with a dystopian future of a vast city laid bare by global warming and sinister corporations filled with surreal images of a multi-national world overtaken by replicant animals and a rapidly depleting human population most of whom had gone off world to the colonies in outer space.

Thirty five years later, there is finally a sequel, the highly anticipated Blade Runner 2049 featuring Ryan Gosling as K and veteran actor Harrison Ford reprising his role as Deckard.

Directed by French Canadian Denis Villeneuve, who brought cinema lovers his excellent impressionistic films Arrival and Sicario, this is by far his best and most ambitious film yet.

With Blade Runner 2049 he had a lot of visionary expectations to live up to and with the able assistance of Oscar nominee cinematographer Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049 is a visual feast, a mind blowing and sophisticated contemplation on the nature of what humanity is, of what fabricated genealogy is and more significantly where our species are heading in a future increasingly popularized with invasive technology. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented operating systems to name a few.

If contemporary audiences are expecting a straight forward sci-fi sequel then don’t watch Blade Runner 2049. It’s advisable to watch the first film so that you as a viewer can understand all the cinematic references to the original that Villeneuve densely packs into this version along with some stand out performances particularly by Harrison Ford as the older Deckard as he appears exiled in an abandoned casino in a vacated Las Vegas to Dutch actress Sylvia Hoeks as the uber-cool yet vicious replicant Luv along with Robin Wright as K’s LAPD hard-drinking superior Lieutenant Joshi. Cuban actress Ana de Armas (War Dogs) also stars as a virtual projection of K’s love interest Joi to compensate for his increasing alienation in this post-apocalyptic landscape.

What is most captivating about Blade Runner 2049 is the subliminal images and the dexterous use of colour filters particularly in the chic scenes with new arch villain Niander Wallace played with a psychopathic God complex by Oscar winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club).

The ratcheting up of the pace in Blade Runner 2049 is remarkable especially in the film’s second half elegantly assisted by a phenomenal original score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch.

To tell audiences anything else about Blade Runner 2049, would be to reveal vital spoiler alerts and sinister plot twists.

Blade Runner 2049 is fantastic cinema on an epic, visionary scale and its magnitude would be lost if viewers saw the film on anything smaller than a massive screen complete with surround sound.

Blade Runner 2049 is superb viewing and gets a film rating of 9 out of 10.

A ravishing tour-de-force in post-modern semiotic brilliance, this film is not to be missed by those that loved the original Blade Runner.

Bullets and Bravado

War Dogs

war_dogs

Director: Todd Phillips

Cast: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Pollak, Julian Sergi, Ana de Armas, Shaun Taub, Mehdi Merali, Wallace Langham

The Hangover director Todd Phillips tries to emulate Scorsese or de Palma in his latest film War Dogs about two twenty something misfits David Packouz and Ephraim Diveroli played by Miles Teller and Jonah Hill respectively, who inadvertently become arms dealers for the US. Government in the twilight of the Bush administration’s War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007.

Unlike Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street or even Brian de Palma’s Scarface, War Dogs does not pack the same visceral shock value. Punctuated by a set of script markers, War Dogs plunders along with a terrible script and a director who clearly should have stuck to comedy.

As an audience member watching Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in this film, one can be forgiven for feeling slightly embarrassed for them. Both actors have produced better work especially Jonah Hill in Moneyball and The Wolf of Wall Street, while Teller was suitably terrified opposite the superb J.K. Simmons in Damien Chazelle’s Oscar winner Whiplash.

The problem with War Dogs, as the action moves from Miami Beach to Amman to Tirana to Las Vegas and back again, is that the film starts off with so much promise, but then fails to deliver. Unlike the marginally better Andrew Niccol’s film Lord of War, War Dogs does not give up its moral compass or ask the audience to judge but merely shows two ambitious young men desperate to earn a fast million in America’s war-mongering capitalist economy prior to the financial crisis hitting in late 2008.

What War Dogs does provide is a theory that war is never about the human conflict but more about the financial business of providing weapons for soldiers fighting in foreign lands. War is a big business, less so in recent years as it has given way to sinister urban terrorism.

war_dogs_ver2

Packouz and Diveroli appear naïve about the ethical implications of the illegal arms business especially when their dangerous dealings get increasingly complicated as they try to supply the US government with Albanian bullets which are actually Chinese through a shady arms dealer Henry Girard played against type by a barely recognizable Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook, American Sniper, Joy, The Hangover). War Dogs also features Cuban actress Ana de Armas as Packouz’s girlfriend Iz.

Despite Jonah Hill emulating his character in The Wolf of Wall Street, his version of Ephraim Diveroli comes off as a fast talking foul-mouthed con-man with a penchant for screwing his partner and having absolutely no moral fibre.

With bullets and bravado, War Dogs fails to deliver, leaving these talented actors floundering with a bad script and a morally skewed film which could have been so much better, not to mention insightful.

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