Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him: regrouping with his new, as-yet-unnamed dog after taking down the New York mob that he used to work for. Director Chad Stahelski and writer Derek Kolstad have created another unusually satisfying action thriller, with sharply developed characters and a plot that holds more water than most of these kinds of movies. Obviously, it can't be as fresh as the first film, but it's thoroughly entertaining.
Reeves' John still just wants to be left alone, but after taking care of one loose end, he is contacted by Italian mafioso Santino (Riccardo Scamarcio), who calls in a blood oath. Unable to refuse, John heads to Rome to carry out a hit he knows will make his life exponentially more precarious, especially as it puts him into conflict with his old friend Cassian (Common). Sure enough, he now has an army of goons chasing him, led by mute thug Ares (Ruby Rose). So he returns to New York and gets in contact with an underground guru (Laurence Fishburne) who might be able to offer some respite from the hordes trying to kill him. And manager Winston (Ian McShane) is also willing to help John, as long as he abides by the rules of the criminal underworld.
The film is another superb mix of cool imagery and coherent action that moves briskly from one brutal encounter to the next. Vicious gunfights and car chases abound in this movie, and all are staged with bracing energy and a heightened sense of realism. Through all of this, Reeves maintains a sense of weary dignity in finely tailored suits that are refreshed after each messy encounter. How he keeps walking and fighting after each bruising fight is another question.
Continue reading: John Wick: Chapter 2 Review
Former hitman John Wick is in Rome following events in the first movie where he sought bloody revenge on the man who killed his dog and stole his car. He's still bereaved from the death of his wife Helen (who died before events in the first film) but he has at least got himself a new puppy. While it can be argued that his revenge massacre doesn't necessarily mean he's back in the game even if it did find him in the company of his former associates, this time his vow of retirement is broken for sure. An old friend is trying to takeover over a nefarious group of international assassins, and he is forced to join him because of the blood oath he made many years ago. This is not the kind of job you can quit easily.
Continue: John Wick: Chapter 2 Trailer
Strong characters help hold the attention as this overcooked drama develops, but in the end it feels so concocted that it's difficult to believe. While there's plenty of potential in the premise, the film becomes distracted by irrelevant subplots that try to stir up some tension but never quite manage it. And for a movie about food, the cuisine is simply too abstract to be mouthwatering.
At the centre is Adam (Bradley Cooper), a bad boy chef whose partying ways ended his high-flying career in Paris. After a period of penance in New Orleans, he moves to London to start again, with the goal of finally getting his elusive third Michelin star. Since he has alienated his friends, he turns to Tony (Daniel Bruhl), a guy who always had a soft spot for him and happens to be running a posh restaurant, which Adam quickly takes over. He rustles up some old colleagues (Omar Sy and Riccardo Scamarcio) and hires hot-shot Helene (Sienna Miller) as his sous chef. But his demanding perfectionism is keeping things from running very smoothly.
This set-up is ripe for both black comedy and soul-searching drama, and yet writer Steven Knight throws in irrelevant sideroads including a mandated therapist (the wonderful Emma Thompson), a bitter rival (a jagged Matthew Rhys), a couple of randomly violent loan sharks and a precocious little girl. Even though the actors do what they can to make every scene intriguing, none of these story elements add anything to the overall film. Still, Cooper holds the movie together with sheer charisma, even if his sudden transition from absolute tyrant to cuddly sweetheart isn't terribly convincing. At least he adds some surprising textures to his scenes, and indulges in sparky banter with those around him. And while Miller is solid in her thankless role, even she can't breathe life into such a thinly developed romance.
Continue reading: Burnt Review
Restauranteering is not a profession that should be taken lightly. Indeed, it's less of a job and more of a way of life for Adam Jones, who has wanted to become the greatest chef the world has ever seen since as long as he can remember. He was just 16-years-old when he left school to go to Paris and achieve his dream; becoming a Michelin star chef infamous across the Parisian culinary scene. But his rise to success came much too soon, and it wasn't long before his dream began to crumble around him, beaten by a life of drugs, violence, and volatile behaviour. With many of his opponents thinking him dead, he returns to London a new man to reignite his passion, earn a third Michelin star, and open the best restaurant in the world. All he needs is a talented team behind him, who is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Continue: Burnt - Teaser Trailer
Based on a notorious true story, this film takes a muted approach that matches the Victorian period and attitudes, which somewhat undermines the vivid emotions of the characters. It's a fascinating story about a woman caught in her society's harshly restrictive rules about women, and the script by Emma Thompson captures some strong observations, interaction and personal feelings, but the film is so dark and repressed that it ultimately feels a bit dull.
In the mid 19th century, Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning) has been courted by noted art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise) since she was only 12 years old, and he has waited for her to come of age to marry her. But as she moves in with his suffocating parents (Julie Walters and David Suchet) in London, Effie soon realises that she's trapped in a hopeless situation. While he's loving, John simply refuses to touch her, which makes her doubt her own intellect and femininity. She's befriended by Lady Eastlake (Thompson), who knows a thing or two about cold marriages and helps her make a plan. Then Effie and John travel to Scotland with John's protege, the painter Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge), and Effie begins to understand that there might be other possibilities out there.
Since the film is made in Victorian style, it leaves all of the heaving passion far beneath the surface. It's obvious that Effie (and the audience) are craving a bit of lusty bodice-ripping, but any action remains behind closed doors, only hinted at in the clever dialogue. This makes the film realistic and intriguing, but difficult to get a grip on. And instead of the scandalous love triangle of historical record, the film plays out more as a drama about a young woman working out a complex escape from male-dominated society. Even so, it's a compelling journey, with some remarkable twists and turns along the way, and the complex characters add plenty of detail.
Continue reading: Effie Gray Review
When young Effie Grey (Dakota Fanning) is married to John Ruskin (Greg Wise), a man ten years older than her, she feels no pleasure whatsoever. She is soon whisked away from her native Scotland and follows her husband as he travels to Venice in order to work on his book, 'The Stones of Venice'. People often notice that there is no love between the pair, and they drift apart during their time in Italy, with Effie spending her time walking the streets of Venice and spending more and more time with her husband's protégée John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). With the two steadily falling in love, the struggle between right and wrong rages within Effie, as she is forced to make the choice between what she is told, and what she wants.
Continue: Effie Gray Trailer
Love is never uncomplicated and when a third person gets involved, it can make things even more difficult. Michael is an award-winning novelist who has left his wife for a much younger lover. He is in Paris finishing his latest book which eerily seems to reflect his own personal problems which get more intense by the day. Meanwhile, a dodgy businessman named Scott travels to Rome to get involved in a fashion design scam only to meet an attractive young woman named Monika. She reveals that she has finally been given the chance to see her daughter again but when the money she needs to see her is apparently stolen, Scott finds himself embroiled in a much deeper con. Then there's Julia, a former actress who has been refused contact with her child and is going through a serious legal battle to be able to hold her son again.
Continue: Third Person Trailer
Marc Duval is struggling to support his family in France as he is faced with an increased financial pressure. However, he is offered a chance to better his life by moving to the Gibraltar off the Spanish coast and becoming a spy for French customs for a more than reasonable income. Unfortunately, the job is not without its risks as he must go undercover as a trustworthy confidante to formidable cocaine smuggler named Claudio Lanfredi. With this operation comes plenty of temptation into a lifestyle of unmatchable luxury, but when border patrol makes a move to arrest Lanfredi, Marc is forced to hide himself and his family from the wrath of Lanfredi's Columbian drug trafficking associates. It soon becomes clear that Marc has to decide what's worth dying for; his family or his job?
Continue: The Informant Trailer
The officers working to protect children in Paris form a close-knit team that deals with huge pressures every day. To survive requires a cynical sense of humour, a fiery dose of righteous rage and an ability to hold your drink on stress-releasing nights out. This kind of police work demands full attention and a lot of passion, but it also takes a personal toll: Nadine (Viard) has left her husband for her colleague Iris (Fois), and Fred (Starr) is both infuriated by and attracted to team photographer Melissa (Maiwenn).
Continue reading: Polisse Review
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Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...
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