Posts Tagged ‘Luke Bracey’

Reaching for Eternity

Elvis

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Cast: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia deJonge, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Luke Bracey, Dacre Montgomery

Running Time: 2 hours and 39 Minutes

Film Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Outlandish Australian director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo and Juliet) returns to the big screen after a nine year hiatus after 2013’s The Great Gatsby, with a brittle and glitzy biopic of the King of Rock n Roll, Elvis Presley simply entitled Elvis starring an incredible Austin Butler in the title role opposite two time Oscar winner Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump) as his shady business advisor Colonel Tom Parker.

In a similar vein to Rami Malek’s transformative performance as Freddie Mercury in 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody, American star Austin Butler (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) does a superb job portraying Elvis Presley from the incredibly gifted singer who transforms into the most legendary musical performer of all time who combined expert showmanship with extravagant costumes and lewd gyrations of his pelvis much to the delight of his infinite female fans.

Elvis Presley was the original rock star before all the other rock stars came along in the 1980’s, he was the trailblazer, the film star and unbelievably talented singer who got financially abused by his controlling business advisor Parker who sought only to commodify Elvis’s talent so he pay off his own gambling debts.

Director Baz Luhrmann captures the zeitgeist of what made Elvis Presley so original, from his Baptist revival roots in segregated Tennessee to become the most famous rock n roll star of the 1950’s through to the 1970’s as the film takes us to Elvis’s troubled residency at the International hotel in fabulous Las Vegas, when Presley realizes that he has been duped into a contract which he cannot get out of.

Elvis’s unbelievable fame came at a cost to his family, his wife Priscilla played beautifully by Olivia deJonge and as he tried to cope with his immense fame, and the undue influence of the sleazy Tom Parker superbly played by Tom Hanks who coaxes Elvis to stay on stage no matter what using all kinds of narcotics to keep the show going. After all this was Las Vegas and crimes of lust and perversion pervaded sin city.

Director and screen writer Baz Luhrmann hints at so many different themes in this brilliant and dazzling biopic from segregation to discrimination, from exploitation to extravagance, but at the heart of this glittering film are two exceptionally well-conceived performances by Austin Butler and Tom Hanks as two lonely men reaching for eternity.

Unlike Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s fame is unsurpassed and legendary. Elvis was the original rock star, the King which defined a generation and created Rock n Roll with a subtle touch of gospel and blues thrown in. Presley invented youth culture when it never existed back in the 1950’s.

Austin Butler deserves an Oscar for his dazzling performance as Elvis Presley and the costume designs by Oscar winning designer Catherine Martin are equally sizzling. Martin won Oscars for her work on The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge and is married to the director.

For those that love musical biopics, Elvis is highly recommended viewing, a poignant and sparkling tribute to the King of Rock n Roll who conquered Las Vegas and became legendary.

Elvis gets a film rating of 8.5 out of 10 and is brilliant, absorbing and alluring.

Conscientious Saviour

Hacksaw Ridge

Director: Mel Gibson

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer, Luke Bracey, Sam Worthington, Rachel Griffiths, Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn, Milo Gibson, Ben O’Toole

Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ director Mel Gibson has assembled a mostly Australian cast in the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge about the Virginia conscientious objector Desmond Doss who refused to bear arms during the war against the Japanese. Doss is played by Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) in one of his best acting roles yet.

Hacksaw Ridge opens in The Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in the early 1930’s where young Doss and his brother are constantly engaged in fraternal rivalry while their drunken father Tom played by Hugo Weaving (The Dressmaker) mourns the loss of his friends in the Great War and beats their mother Bertha played by Rachel Griffiths (Muriel’s Wedding).

As a practicing Seventh Day Adventist, Desmond from a young age takes a vow against violence yet is compelled to join the army soon after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour. His romantic life is heightened when he meets Nurse Dorothy Schutte, a wonderful supporting role played by the gorgeous Teresa Palmer (Point Break, I am Number Four) which he soon proposes to.

While the first act of Hacksaw Ridge is taken up with establishing a credible back story of Desmond Doss, his religious beliefs, family and brief courtship, it’s really the second act of the film that captures audience’s attention as Doss undergoes basic military training under the supervision of Sgt Howell played by Vince Vaughn (Into The Wild, The Internship) and Captain Glover played by British actor Sam Worthington (Avatar, Clash of the Titans).

When it comes to target practice, the rest of the soldiers including a handsome Smitty Ryker played by Luke Bracey (The November Man) and Lucky Ford played by Gibson’s son Milo Gibson are all eager to take up arms to defend their country, while Doss completely refuses to hold a rifle on the grounds that he is a conscientious objector.

After a military inquiry into whether Doss can still serve in the armed forces without bearing arms, the action swiftly moves into the third act, the dreaded battle sequence at Hacksaw Ridge, on the island of Okinawa, a battle so gruesome that many of his fellow soldiers are killed instantly as the ruthless Japanese attack the Americans without restraint.

Director Gibson excels in the battle sequences of Hacksaw Ridge as a combination of frenetic sound editing, utter brutality and emotional tension is vividly captured as the soldier bravely battle a more sophisticated and disciplined opponent. As the battle for Hacksaw Ridge continues, many American soldiers are left wounded, easy prey for the bayonets of the Japanese soldiers.

Doss in this terrifying battleground questions his own convictions and has a crisis of faith amidst bullets whizzing past him and bodies rotting in shallow graves.

Hacksaw Ridge was indeed a vicious battle of attrition, but Doss realizes that if he can save as many wounded American soldiers as possible then perhaps the American military might recognize his true valour and bravery.

In terms of recreating one of the most gruesome battles of the Pacific Theatre of World War II, Hacksaw Ridge is an excellent film comparable to similar war classics like Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning Saving Private Ryan and Oliver Stone’s Platoon.

Historically accurate, Hacksaw Ridge superbly retells the unbelievable story of Desmond Doss, the first Conscientious Objector who was in a battle and received the Medal of Honour without firing a single shot. This is highly recommended viewing and judging by its critical claim, Hacksaw Ridge will have a cult following for lovers of genuine war films.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Doss

 

Nature Versus Man

Point Break

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Director: Ericson Core

Cast: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Teresa Palmer, Ray Winstone, Delroy Lindo, Tobias Santelmann, Nikolai Kinski, Clemens Schick

The 2015 remake of the 1991 surf thriller Point Break, which originally starred Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves and directed by Kathryn Bigelow moves the action from California to the French Riviera and features a more international cast including Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (Zero Dark Thirty) as Bodhi and Australian actor Luke Bracey (The November Man) as Johnny Utah yet does not live up to the original.

Nevertheless, Ericson Core’s version of Point Break comes across more as a globetrotting extreme sports adventure film than a hard core action film and whilst the stunts are fantastic, the storyline does not feature anything fresh or innovative, but remains loyal to the original plot of an FBI agent who infiltrates a group of extreme sports men, headed by the alpha male Bodhi as they jet set around the globe and attempt some awe inspiring stunts while their criminal acts appear to be philanthropic.

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The onscreen bromance between Bodhi and Johnny Utah is an essential ingredient which director Bigelow captured so well in the first film, however in this version, the actors Bracey and Ramirez do not quite accomplish that genuine competitiveness. Their fragile friendship is strained too early in the film and soon the narrative and characterisation gets lost amidst the spectacular stunts and action sequences mainly in the French and Italian Alps.

Whilst the rest of the cast assist with making this bromance believable including Ray Winstone as Utah’s FBI handler and a cast of European actors which make up Bodhi’s crew including Norwegian actor Tobias Santelmann (Hercules) as Chowder and German actor Clemens Schick (Casino Royale) as Roach with Natassja Kinski’s younger half-brother Nikolai Kinski (Saint Laurent) playing a wealthy reckless playboy Pascal al Fariq who funds their various international heists from Mumbai to Mexico.

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The extreme sports in this version of Point Break range from snowboarding to wingsuit flying, high speed motor cross and surfing 70 foot waves in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Viewers get the impression that Ericson Core’s version of Point Break tried to dazzle 21st century audiences yet got carried away with the visual possibilities especially since he originally was director of photography for such films as Daredevil and The Fast and The Furious. This version of the film is by no means as good as the original directed by Kathryn Bigelow who went on to win an Oscar for The Hurt Locker.

2015’s Point Break does have that international multicultural feel which the original film does not, but somehow the narrative of a gang of dare-devil extreme sports men chasing the elusive eight feats of man conquering nature gets lost amidst the stunts. In the end Nature ultimately proves a worthy contestant.

Australian actress Teresa Palmer (I am Number Four) plays Samsara whose initial love interest with Johnny Utah is soon smothered by the general overwhelming masculine desire to push these natural limits beyond their own human capabilities. Despite its visual appeal, 2015’s Point Break is fun to watch but in no way eclipses the original film which was far better directed and a more exciting action thriller.

Chechen Revenge

November Man

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Director: Roger Donaldson

Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Luke Bracey, Olga Kurylenko, Bill Smitrovich, Lazar Ritovski, Eliza Taylor, Will Patton, Patrick Kennedy, Caterina Scorsone

Former Bond actor Pierce Brosnan (Die Another Day, Goldeneye) resuscitates the spy genre with former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) in the convoluted yet sophisticated thriller November Man directed by Australian Roger Donaldson (The Recruit).

As the action moves from a botched assassination in Montenegro by CIA rookie David Mason, played by Australian actor Luke Bracey to Switzerland where retired CIA operative Devereaux is languishing in a café in Lake Lausanne who is soon thrust back into the murky world of Eastern European counter espionage as he has to investigate a rising Russian politician who has been accused of Chechen war crimes.

As the plot unfolds for November Man based upon the novel There are No Spies by Bill Granger Devereaux finds himself in Belgrade, Serbia protecting Alice Fournier played by Kurylenko who was a social worker to a Chechen refugee Mira who witnessed this Russian beaurocrat Arkady Federov played by Lazar Ritovski start a war in Chechnya http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chechnya to extract oil for Russian interests. Except like in most spy novels and never as elegantly told as a John le Carre story, there are numerous twists in this espionage tale.

With November Man, Brosnan still has that muscular gritty edge which got him the part of James Bond back in the mid 1990’s and the dynamic between him and his young CIA protégé Mason played by Bracey (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) makes for interesting and intense viewing, coupled with loads of actions sequences, an unexpectedly high body count and sufficient plot twists which involves a crooked CIA agent and a deadly Russian assassin.

Whilst there are aspects of November Man which are stylistically and logistically questionable, director Donaldson keeps the gritty realist spy genre grounded and evenly paced, similar to the hugely successful Bourne movies. This is Spy Games without the megalomaniacs and lavish liars seen in such films as Moonraker and Tomorrow Never Dies.

This is Brosnan in the autumn of his career in a sort of retired Jack Reacher mode seen in several dubious locations. Let’s face it Belgrade isn’t exactly Venice or Paris, yet Donaldson does make use of the locations in one of Europe’s oldest capital’s especially  tapping into Serbia’s bloody and controversial history as part of the former Yugoslavia which plays well into the Balkan backstory of dodgy Russian politicians committing atrocities in the Caucuses.

Not as slick as the Bourne movies or as glamourous and inventive as the Bond films, but November Man still proves that there is longevity in the spy genre, one in which Hollywood seems to have relinquished.

November Man is recommended viewing for those that like compelling action, lots of violence and an unscrupulous spy game whereby no one appears innocent. Ukrainian beauty Olga Kurylenko is suitably fabulous in her home territory especially in the seduction sequence at a swanky Belgrade hotel.

 

Weapons of Mass Destruction

GI Joe: Retaliation

All Braun and no Brains

All Braun and no Brains

Following on the success of 2009 GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra, featuring Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller, comes the delayed release of GI Joe: Retaliation directed by Jon M. Chu teams Dwayne Johnson with Bruce Willis along with some newcomers including D. J. Cotrona as Flint and Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye and is supported by Ray Stevenson (fresh from playing a Ukranian gangster on the series Dexter) as a fiendishly deranged Southerner, Firefly the muscle for the Cobra group and a little seen Channing Tatum as Duke, one of the original GI’s and Ray Park as Snake Eyes.

With a convoluted plot involving an imposter American president played with evil cynicism by Jonathan Pryce, reprising his megalomaniac villain Elliot Carver from the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, this film is nothing more than a homage to all the weapons of mass destruction, and to a male-orientated obsession with weaponry, arms and naturally testosterone fueled combat. All types of weapons are on display in this film from samurai swords to high-calibre machine guns and whilst GI Joe: Retaliation is a great action packed film to watch, one hopes that it does not inspire some unwanted teenager to randomly gun down a group of strangers in a Mid-Western American mall. Sadly in the wake of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Connecticut and the massacre at the Aurora Theater in Colorado both in 2012, Gi Joe: Retaliation‘s overemphasis on weaponry surely points to a society which is unwilling to relinquish its right to bear arms despite the many casualties.

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Gi Joe: Retaliation action spans the globe from Pakistan to North Korea, from Washington DC to South Carolina, and whilst the plot resembles a twisted version of Diamonds are Forever without the glamour and whilst there are some great moments provided by Willis and Stevenson, most of the film is filled with explosions, knife fights, infinitely explosive gun battles, exhilarating boat and car chases and perfectly provides a cinematic reason to showcase all the weapons of retaliation stockpiled by any of the G8 nations, a fill arsenal of destruction, capable of flattening any major capital city in the globe, from London to Tokyo.

Fun to watch, without much thought behind it, GI Joe Retaliation will definitely find a following in its target audience and is not as good or slick as the original film, the slightly more sophisticated GI Joe, Rise of the Cobra. GI Joe: Retaliation has some fantastic sequences in it especially the ninjas on a Japanese mountain and the odd quirky dialogue naturally involving Bruce Willis, but the script is a bit too outlandish to be taken seriously and should really be viewed in the context of a some fun Saturday afternoon entertainment. Definitely recommended mainly for bored teenage boys and young men who like the action thick and fast without much thought.

 

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