Posts Tagged ‘Steven Berkoff’

Project Nightshade

RED 2

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Retired and Extremely Dangerous

Director: Dean Parisot

Cast: Bruce Willis, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Neal McDonough, Steven Berkoff, David Thewlis, Byung-Hun Lee, Tim Pigott-Smith, Brian Cox

Despite the inherent violence in the film’s narrative, Red 2 is an enjoyable yet not particularly lucid sequel to the 2010 hit Red, which stands for Retired and Extremely Dangerous. Both films are inspired by DC Comics so that should give the audience an indication of what to expect: lots of action, globetrotting assassins and a convoluted story line with a dash of witty one liners.

Considering the calibre of the cast of Red 2, including Oscar Winners Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs) and Helen Mirren (The Queen) along with the main stars, Bruce Willis, the fabulous Oscar nominee John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons) and Mary-Louise Parker (Red Dragon), this sequel’s script could have been sharper. Although thankfully the female stars do elevate the narrative beyond another sort of The Expendables type film, featuring all male action stars over 45 slugging it out with an armoury that could annihilate a small eastern European country. Director Dean Parisot goes for violence over sophisticated repartee, which is a great pity considering the cast he had at his disposal.

Red 2 is hugely entertaining but could have had a less complicated narrative and the action could have been diluted more effectively. There is the perennial car chase scene in Paris (straight out of A View to a Kill), the Kremlin scene in Moscow, straight out of countless spy movies and the more recent A Good Day to Die Hard and an aerial chase sequence across London’s slate grey skyline which is definitely inspired by the Bond franchise.

If audiences have not seen Red, then its best to see that first before seeing Red 2, but the premise is simply about an international group of retired spies and assassins (ex CIA, Mi6, Russian intelligence) who inadvertently stumble on a a plan to activate a so-called forgotten nuclear device in Moscow codenamed Project Nightshade after it was left there during the Cold War by a rogue American spy unit. The globe hopping from suburban America to London, Paris and Moscow is great but comically inspired and nothing as brilliant as the elegant cityscape changes seen in Skyfall.

Red 2 also features Byung-Hun Lee as a knife-wielding assassin last seen in GI Joe, Retaliation along with Neal McDonough as the vicious agent Jack Horton, but it is really Mary-Louise Parker’s performance which lifts Red 2 out of Comic book banality  as the sharp and sassy Sarah, girlfriend to Frank Moses played by Bruce Willis who is always hankering for more adventure and glamour, spicing up their crumbling romance.

Look out for a hilarious scene at the end of the film set in Caracas. Anymore details, then that would give the game away. Also featuring a briefly seen Steven Berkoff and David Thewlis as the Frog, a Wikileaks inspired classified intelligence hacker. Red 2 is fun viewing, heavy on action, light on content and plausibility!

An American in Venice…

The Tourist

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Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck stylish comic thriller The Tourist is more a film to showcase some European and British talent than it is a blockbuster for the two major American stars, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

Jolie and Depp shine as the leading couple especially in a wonderful scene at the Hotel Daniela in Venice, when Jolie who plays Elize Ward tells Frank (the Tourist) that after a dinner out, he has to sleep on the couch in the deluxe suite. Frank imagines the glamorous Elize undressing in the next bedroom, as he curls up on the crimson sofa with his spy novel.  The next morning Frank is suddenly escaping Russian gunmen on the rooftops of  Venetian villas and falls victim to the idiosyncrasies of the Italian police force when questioned about his supposed pursuers.

Venice is a much a character in The Tourist as the rest of the cast, and the ancient Italian city built on water is murky with a seductive intrigue whilst von Donnersmarck shows off this superb location, from wide-angle shots of the Piazza San Marco to subtle references in the script. One of the characters a cameo by Rufus Sewell even says if this intrigue had happened someplace else it would not be the same as it happening Venice.

The Tourist is a tribute to sophisticated comedies of the fifties and sixties complete with gorgeous costumes, a dash of intrigue and a beautiful location to match. Depp and Jolie are a wonderful pair as foils to each other’s deceptions. There is obvious tribute to the James Bond films in the Tourist, from Moonraker and Casino Royale both set in Venice, to Timothy Dalton as the head of M16 and a sinister impressive performance by Steven Berkoff, playing the billionaire gangster Shaw, reprising the role of the villain as he did with menace in the 1983 James Bond film Octopussy.

The Tourist is a heady cocktail of intrigue, deception, humour and glamour letting the audience feel that like the title, they too have travelled on holiday to an exotic location and discovered a world unfamiliar to their own.

Director von Donnersmarck won the 2007 Oscar for best Foreign language film for The Lives of Others and is clearly enjoying making a less serious more glossy cinematic production whilst not compromising on the European style and sophistication of The Tourist‘s main locations, Paris and Venice.

Which always begs the question, why would a maths teacher from Madison, Wisconsin in the American mid-West be traveling alone on a TGV from Paris to Venice?

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