A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in The Queen or Frost/Nixon. Even though screenwriter Colin Bateman (Murphy's Law) aims more for entertainment value than pointed character drama, the film is solidly gripping, drawing plenty of brittle humour and complex emotion out of the story.
It's set in 2006, as peace talks about Ireland are taking place in St. Andrews. Prime Minister Tony Blair (Toby Stephens) is trying to orchestrate a meeting between mortal enemies Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney). But there's a hitch when Ian needs to return to Belfast for his 59th wedding anniversary party. In a surprise move, Martin insists on accompanying Ian, citing protocol as a reason. Seeing his chance, MI5 expert Harry (John Hurt) puts a plan in motion for them to travel to Edinburgh together to catch the flight, planting a cheerful young spy (Freddie Highmore) as their driver. The question is whether he can manipulate their journey and cause them to start talking.
As the ice between these stubborn men begins to thaw, the script contrives to push them together with things like a petrol stop, a flat tyre, an injured deer on the roadside and a time-wasting detour through the woods that's intended to break their silence. The two actors have a great time maintaining their bluster through all of this. Spall gives Paisley an imperious attitude that has cleverly wry undercurrents. His rant at a shop clerk about a declined credit card is delivered with biblical proportions. And Meaney has some heart-stopping moments of his own. Both actors clearly relish the snaky, engaging dialogue as they quietly reveal the real men beneath the tough public personae. By contrast, Highmore seems eerily charisma-free as their driver, but there's more fun to be had from Hurt, Stephens and others as hapless officials watching on hidden cameras.
Continue reading: The Journey (2017) Review
Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this retelling of the notorious attack on an American compound in Libya on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012. As always, Bay stages the action on a big scale in a way that looks amazing, but he neglects both the story and the characters. As a result, the film feels epic and beefy, but is impossible to engage with.
It opens as a team of hired soldiers assembles at a secret CIA base in Benghazi. Jack (John Krasinski) is the newest arrival, joining his old pal Rone (James Badge Dale) and four more tough guys (Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa and Max Martini). Meanwhile just up the road, the American Ambassador (Matt Letscher) is staying in a rather unsecure compound with not quite enough security, despite stern warnings from Washington that trouble is brewing. Sure enough, as night falls a local jihadist militia launches a violent, fiery assault. The CIA base chief (David Costabile) tells his men not to join the fight, but of course they can't resist the chance to charge in and save the day.
Over a long and bludgeoning two and a half hours, Bay carefully recreates this long, vicious night of fighting, as the situation continually twists out of control. The best thing about the film is the way it depicts how difficult it was to know which locals were on which side, but even this is simplified in Chuck Hogan's script. Everyone on-screen is interchangeable as either a bewildered nerd or a fierce warrior, and the only one in between is by far the film's strongest character: Peyman Moaadi's translator, who gets pushed right into the middle of the nightmare. In the few quiet moments, there are clumsy attempts to give these manly men some back-story, but it's the same for everyone: former black ops soldier with a wife and kids back home.
Continue reading: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi Review
Being a security contractor stationed in Benghazi is a job that most people would not be equipped to do; it takes a special type of person, not to mention the training. It's September 2012 and the security agencies around the world are still on high alert and recovering from the terror attacks in London the year prior.
When a group of Islamist radicals attack two American bases in Benghazi, Libya the American citizens in the compounds are placed in grave danger and it's left to a small group of Ex-Navy SEALS and Special Forces operatives to go help protect them. Placing their lives in danger, they take it upon themselves to protect the Ambassador to the United States.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is based on Mitchell Zuckoff's novel 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi and was directed by Michael Bay.
Benghazi, Libya has become out-of-control, with Islamic extremists terrorising the state with multiple bomb attacks. As such, the CIA operatives that have been stationed there to covertly observe the terrorism are in more danger than ever before, and so an elite team of former military weapons and manouvre experts are brought on for ultimate security. Jack Da Silva is the team's newest recruit, having previously trained SEALs at the Coronado Navy base. Led by the sharp and formidable Rone, the six-man group face their first major attack when Islamic radicalists storm the US embassy. With the death of an American Ambassador occurring not long after, it's clear that these men have something close to a suicide mission to undertake. But they're willing to risk everything to save the rest of their country's civilians.
With its heart in the right place, this charming British football drama overcomes a script that frequently drifts into sentimentality and corny plotting. But the story is involving, and the cast is particularly good. So even though it has a tendency to drift into cuteness, a fresh sense of humour and sympathetic characters help build up a swell of honest emotion as it approaches the final whistle.
It's set in 1984 Manchester, where the legendary Manchester United manager Matt Busby (Brian Cox) is still haunted by the Munich plane crash in 1958 that took the lives of several of his dream-team players. In search of something to give meaning to his retirement years, he runs across a street-smart 10-year-old named Georgie (Jack Smith), who has his own issues. Georgie lives with his working-class single mum Erica (Natascha McElhone), who worries about his future and leaps at the chance of a scholarship to send him to a posh private school. Georgie isn't thrilled about studying for the entrance exam with snooty professor Farquar (Toby Stephens); he'd rather be out kicking a ball with his friends, and is secretly plotting to enter a youth competition with them. But they need an adult sponsor, so Matt and his friend Bob (Philip Jackson) agree to take them on. And the kids have no idea that they're being trained by a national icon.
Director David Scheinmann shoots the film with sundrenched charm, grounding the goofier moments by encouraging the cast to give deeply felt performances. At the centre, Cox and Jackson are an entertaining double act as old pals kickstarting their lives by taking on this young team overflowing with raw talent but no discipline. McElhone is essentially playing the standard movie mother who's too busy with the pressures of everyday life to notice much of anything that her tearaway son is doing, but she gives the role a sharp emotional centre. Stephens has more trouble in his rather wacky role, which drifts from callous nastiness to physical slapstick.
Continue reading: Believe Review
Award winning actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is being eyed for the role of villain in the upcoming James Bond film.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is being considered for a part in the upcoming James Bond movie as the villain. The 12 Years A Slave actor is not in official talks with the studios behind the 2015 film - Sony and MGM - but is being seriously considered, according to The Wrap.
Chiwetel Ejiofor with his BAFTA for Best Actor in February of this year.
The upcoming Bond film, which is slated to be released in 2015, will see Daniel Craig return in the title role. Ralph Fiennes has replaced Dame Judi Dench; M. Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw as Q will also reprise their roles. Sam Mendes, who directed the last film, Skyfall, is also set to direct.
Continue reading: Chiwetel Ejiofor To Play James Bond Villain In 'Bond 24'?
British filmmaker Caradog James makes the most of a tiny budget with this chilling sci-fi thriller. Toying with big ideas about the repercussions of artificial intelligence, James keeps the focus on the human element, which makes it thoroughly engaging and darkly haunting. It may feel somewhat over-serious, but it also gets us thinking.
Set in the near future, the story centres on top scientist Vincent (Toby Stephens), who is hired by the Ministry of Defense to create a sentient machine that will help the West win the arms-race against China. Vincent has already perfected robotic repairs for wounded soldiers, and now begins working with sharp new assistant Ava (Arrow's Caity Lotz). But as Ava's snooping gets her in trouble, Vincent decides to combine her knowledge of programming with his technical expertise and create a thinking, feeling robot. And of course, Vincent's boss (Denis Lawson) immediately wants to put it to military use.
The film looks terrific, as writer-director James uses military imagery and a creepy underground bunker setting to build an overpowering sense of menace. So even if the script only barely cracks the surface, the characters all seem shifty and dangerous as we discover more about them. Especially the military meatheads who have had corrective brain implants and can communicate between themselves in a secret language.
Continue reading: The Machine Review
The late playwright Noël Coward's play, Private Lives, has made the jump to the prestigious London West End.
Described as a 'comedy of manners' - a play that satirises different echelons of the social ladder - Noël Coward's 1930 three-act play centres on Elyot (Toby Stephens) and Amanda (Anna Chancellor) who have been divorced for five years when they run into each other again whilst on honeymoon with their new spouses. The coincidental encounter reignites the divorcee's former passion irrespective of the marital issues they previously had, or the feelings of their current partners.
Director Jonathon Kent Likens Private Lives To An Exquisite Fabergé Egg.
The play had a successful run at Chichester's Festival theatre, lampooning the glamorous and reckless lives of the rich and will now, according to the theatre's website, "blaze across the West End stage this summer in an explosive production that proves Noël Coward still has the power to thrill, provoke and delight." Accomplished British lead actors Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) are praised by The Telegraph for the "sense of unbuttoned intimacy and desire" between them in a "superb production [that] feels forever young, fresh and delightful."
Continue reading: Noël Coward's 'Private Lives' Hits The West End
Sadly, there has been such a glut of gun-packed London crime thrillers, that it simply isn't enough to make one that looks good and has a fierce energy: you need a solidly structured plot that goes somewhere unexpected. And that's where this film struggles. It's slick and atmospheric, with a terrific cast, but the story is so overcomplicated that it's almost impossible for us to maintain any interest in what happens.
At the centre is Detective Parker (Sewell), a shifty cop who's playing a very dangerous game as he tries to crush mobster Corso (Byrne) by undermining his cash-flow and threatening his son (Mascolo). Parker gets help from his rather reluctant partner Sands (Maynard), but rookie Riley (Gregory) is horrified to see the corruption he has wandered into. Then the efficient hitman Riley (Stephens) walks straight into the middle of everything, unaware of what's going on. He hides out with an old friend (Paraky) whose husband was also caught in the crossfire. And none of them realises that they're on a deadly collision course.
Isaac has a superb eye for catching London on-screen, using striking iconic locations and placing the action within the sweeping scale of the city. But his overuse of shoot-outs and car chases makes it feel deeply implausible. And his screenplay makes little concession to the audience, as dialog is peppered with references to earlier events we know nothing about. Clearly there are all kinds of interconnections between these people, but it's impossible to untangle them so that things make sense. Much more interesting is the way everyone gets caught up in the moral ambiguity of each decision they must make.
Continue reading: All Things To All Men Review
Until director Lee Tamahori blasts right past a perfectly good ending, only to burn a superfluous 20 minutes on an all-action, all-gimmick epilogue that leaks suspension of disbelief like a sieve, "Die Another Day" is as stimulating and heart-rate-raising as any James Bond thriller.
It has fresh new stunts (Bond goes surfin' surfin' MI6) set to energetic renditions of the Bond theme. It has an exhilarating sword fight (things get out of hand at a fencing club) and an awesome gadget car chase across a vast frozen inlet in Iceland (Bond drives an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish with missiles, pop-up machine guns, ejector seat and invisibility). It has a slithering, credibly psychotic bad guy (Toby Stephens, "Possession") who literally never sleeps, and a henchman (Rick Yune, "The Fast and the Furious") whose face is scarred by diamonds that became embedded in his skin when Bond almost blew him up with a briefcase full of jewels and C-4.
"Die Another Day" also has a modicum of success updating the series' style (slick, kinetic cinematography with swing-perspective camera tricks works well but virtual reality sequences and rock tunes on the soundtrack do not), and it takes risks with 007's invincible image. Bond is captured in the film's requisite action-packed pre-credits sequence and his torture by North Korean interrogators is blended into the sexy title song (a throwaway rave-mix tune from Madonna).
Continue reading: Die Another Day Review
A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...
Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...
Being a security contractor stationed in Benghazi is a job that most people would not...
Benghazi, Libya has become out-of-control, with Islamic extremists terrorising the state with multiple bomb attacks....
With its heart in the right place, this charming British football drama overcomes a script...
British filmmaker Caradog James makes the most of a tiny budget with this chilling sci-fi...
Sadly, there has been such a glut of gun-packed London crime thrillers, that it simply...