Red Notice: Gal Gadot Outshines Ryan Reynolds And Dwayne Johnson

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two art thieves, played by Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, and one former FBI Agent, played by Dwayne Johnson compete against one another in order to pull off a multimillion dollar heist.

I think there is something deeply generic about this film, however the charm of its leads is enough to keep you watching particularly Gadot.  Gadot gets a lot of unwarranted criticism for one very obvious reason and that is the fact that she is from Israel and Jewish which is abhorrent and anti-Semitic. Honestly, Gadot is the highlight of the film and though used sparingly she really does a lot with the scenes she is included in.

Johnson and Reynolds have a good back and forth, as Hobbs and Shaw proved, however there is nothing new for either here. Though both are charming I would like to see them take more risks Reynold’s especially, I am starting to get bored of the Deadpool shtick. The scenes with all three performers are certainly the strongest.

In terms of the story there is nothing really new here. As I said in my review of Netflix’s Army Of Thieves once you have seen one heist film you have seen them all, and that is very true here. Almost everything that happens here has been done before.

Overall, a very mediocre film made better by its leads.

Pros.

The chemistry between the leads

Gadot

The ending

Cons.

It is very generic

There are no surprises    

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Wildland: What Would You Do For Your Family

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An orphan, played by Sandra Guldberg Kampp, moves in with her aunt, played by Sidse Babett Knudsen, and her sons only to later find out that they are a crime family and that she is now in over her head.

For the most part I enjoyed this film. I thought the film plays with the meaning of family in an interesting way, dissecting the ideas around how far you would go for them and what would you do if the threat came from within the family unit? I found multiple scenes to be incredibly tense and I think that is one of the film’s great strengths, it can turn fairly innocuous dialogue scenes into uneasy experiences where you know something bad is just about to happen and you’re on edge waiting for it.

I thought the actors all gave good performances and you believed that they were indeed a family. Moreover, you also believed they were all gangsters as they carried the roles well and had the right level of menace and coldness to pull it off.

My only real complaint with this film would be that I didn’t like the ending, to me it felt rushed and out of place with the rest of the film. I was left at the end of the film thinking ‘wait what, is that it?’ as it just ends without a satisfying conclusion to the events of the film, but maybe that was the point?

Overall, an interesting crime film that digs a little deeper than most, however the ending could have been better structured and executed.

Pros.

Good performances

A strong sense of threat and tension

Trying to do something different with the gangster genre

Questions around the meaning of family

Cons.

The ending is weak

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The Trip: Three Violent Criminals Saving A Marriage

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A husband and wife duo, played by Aksel Hennie and Noomi Rapace, head up to their cabin with plans to murder one another, however these plans are thwarted when three escaped prisoners show up and take them hostage.

I don’t think this film wins any awards for originality, I have seen this premise before, a husband and wife who hate each other being forced to defeat a threat and then coming back together at the end with the troubling events having saved their relationship. However, it is done well here.

Both Hennie and Rapace are terrific and I enjoyed the game of one-upmanship they have. Neither of their characters knows the other is plotting against them and I enjoyed seeing their plans run into each other with each thinking they had the advantage over the other only to later have that stripped away.

Moreover, I also really liked this film’s sense of humour and I found myself laughing a number of times throughout. Obviously the humour here is quite dark and won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I found this to be one of the funniest films I have seen in a while.

My only real criticism of the film would be that there are a number of scenes that I think go too far and maybe start to cross into bad taste. I am of course talking about the attempted rape scene, many films have these sort of scenes in them as they apply to the story however here I found it to be far more intense and graphic than what we normally see and as such it made me feel very uncomfortable, the camera often lingered for too long.

Overall, a terrific dark comedy film, minus a slight bit of bad taste.

Pros.

The humour

Hennie

Rapace

The ending

Cons.

It goes too far for my sensibilities   

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The Eyes Of Tammy Faye: Preaching To The Converted

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

This film details the rise and fall of televangelist preachers Tammy Faye Baker, played by Jessica Chastain, and Jim Baker, played by Andrew Garfield. Based on true events.

For the most part this film is an interesting look into the world of televangelists, showing a behind closed doors look into their world of power, abuse and infighting. It also has a few strongly emotional scenes that do land well, and strike chords within you. However, that is not to say this film is great by any means, there certainly are issues with bias and pacing throughout.

 The performances are strong from the central duo, with Chastain giving one of the best performances of her career, and Garfield having some really strong moments of quiet intensity. Moreover, Vincent D’Onofrio steals scenes as Jerry Falwell and is incredibly menacing whenever he is on screen, he is well cast in the antagonist role to the Bakers.

Something I noticed whilst viewing it is this film is very favourable to Tammy Faye, so much so that I was expecting it to have been produced by some of her relatives. I find it hard to understand why the film is so content to go after everyone else involved in this greedy story yet leave her blameless. I think by making her into this blameless angel the film risks losing any kind of realism and instead becomes an effort in aggrandisement.

Moreover, the pace is quite off here. There is no real reason for this film to be on for over two hours, as it could be wrapped up nicely in a tight hour and a half, the only reason I can see for this bloated runtime is because the film likes to indulge itself. A good example of this is the botched ending that sees Tammy sing again for the first time in years, and we see how in her head there is a backing bad and a flag and various other elements, and the song just goes on and on. The film doesn’t know when to end.

Pros.

Chastain

Garfield

D’Onofrio

Cons.

The ending

The bias

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Army Of Thieves: Once You Have Seen One Heist Film You Have Seen Them All

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ludwig Dieter, played by Matthias Schweighofer, returns in a prequel to Army Of The Dead, in which Dieter finds himself at the centre of a series of international heists revolving around famous safes.

I enjoyed Ludwig Dieter in Army Of The Dead, but this film felt excessive. I don’t know why you go from having it be a heist story in a zombie apocalypse, to suddenly just a heist film. I thought the whole point of this universe was the fact that it featured a zombie outbreak? Yet this film almost goes out of its way to hide it, only showing us brief scenes on news broadcasts, and telling us about it in throwaway dialogue.

By doing this and having it just be a heist movie the film cripples itself. This film feels indistinguishable from any other heist film, was that the point? Though we have the same character from the other film back, it couldn’t feel further apart. Rather than manic zombie action we get the same set of generic heist characters we have seen hundreds of times before, with the same backstories. We see the same twists and turns, and the same ending as well, there is nothing new here. You will only find this film original if you have never seen a heist film before.

The only reason this film is not getting lower is because there are still a few good laughs to be had here, Schweighofer is still funny. Moreover, Nathalie Emmanuel has a great presence on-screen and she really brings something to this film. I liked the romance between Ludwig and Emmanuel’s Gwendoline over the course of the film as I found it to be genuinely effecting.

Overall, a needless follow up made better by Emmanuel.

Pros.

It is watchable

It has a few funny moments

Emmanuel is on strong form

Cons.

We have seen it all before

It does nothing with the zombies

The ending feels far too tided into the first film

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In For A Murder: The Real Crime Here Is A Terrible Marriage

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film revolves around a bored housewife, played by Anna Smolowik, as she becomes increasingly involved in trying to solve a murder.

This film was very eh for me, it had some moments of fun but for the most part it was just dull. The humour of the film was very much hit or miss and only made me laugh a few times, I don’t know if it is a different sensibility or something but it mostly didn’t work for me; humour is of course subjective.

I found the murder mystery aspects of the plot to be initially interesting but then quickly played out and stale. I think this is because the pacing of this film is wildly off and every scene feels a few minutes too long. Whenever the film presents you with an interesting idea it ruins it by overly exploring it.

In terms of acting I didn’t find anyone to be particularly either way, neither good nor bad rather just fine.

Overall, this film does have some moments of promise, however for the most part it is dull.

Pros.

Some promise to the murder mystery

A few funny moments

It’s watchable

Cons.

It is poorly paced

It becomes boring

The acting is all very flat

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Copshop: Balloons Make A Great Shield To Mask Your Identity

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A fixer, Frank Grillo, and a hitman, Gerard Butler, find themselves locked together in a police station, with a rookie police officer, Alexis Louder, trying to figure out what is going on and why everyone wants the fixer dead.

Very much like with Joe Carnahan’s other work this film is very stylised, moreover it benefits from being this way: having a very distinctive visual pleat that draws on grindhouse and exploitation elements whilst keeping things fresh.

Surprisingly following Carnahan’s Boss Level, I find Frank Grillo not in best shape here. I understand the script wants us to view Grillo’s character as an unfeeling cold escape artist, but the film does not do enough to set that up, rather it just makes leaps in character development that just assume the audience is already viewing the character that way, which they most likely aren’t.

It is because of this that Butler really becomes the star of the show and manages to outperform Grillo seizing the lime light and the potential sequel. The only threat to Butler in this regard is Toby Huss, as the secondary hitman sent in to clean up Butler’s characters mistakes. Huss steals the show and has sone of the most memorable lines of dialogue I have heard in a long time, I know the film kills him off but if they do do a sequel he needs to come back in some way. Maybe a twin brother.

The crime thriller elements were engaging if a little generic at times, however they were elevated by the quirky personality of the film and some of the more out there comedic moments that strangely not only land but work.

Overall, the style and the humour elevate what could otherwise be a by the numbers thriller.

Pros.

Huss

Butler

The personality

Cons.

A generic plot

A few issues with character development  

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Beverly Hills Cop: In Need Of Sneaking In Somewhere? Bring A Floral Bouquet

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A maverick cop from Detroit, played by Eddie Murphy, heads to Beverly Hills to avenge his friend who was recently killed.

I can see how this was popular and how it inspired a larger franchise. Murphy is at his most charming and likeable here, with enough jokes and heart to keep you engaged throughout. Not all the jokes landed, though enough did that you stayed entertained. Moreover, as far as ‘cops who don’t play by the rules go’ Murphy’s Foley is one of the nicer ones, this makes rooting for him far easier especially now in the era of us questioning the power of the police.

My issues with this film come from the fact that it did nothing new. It felt like just another buddy cop film, if you take out Eddie Murphy the film becomes so generic that it would simply fade to the background of the genre. Throughout the film I was hoping for something to shock me but it didn’t, the film played out exactly as I thought it would.

Overall, it is a fun buddy cop film because of Murphy without him this film is incredibly generic.

Pros.

Murphy

The heart

A few good laughs

Cons.

The supporting cast is largely underused

The film is predictable

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Queenpins: Kristen Bell Stopped Trying

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

We follow Connie, Kristen Bell, and Jojo, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, as they create the biggest fake coupon ring in US history, supposedly based on a true story.

This one was a disappointment. I had been eagerly awaiting the release of this film as the trailer looked good, however, it turned out to be just another silly crime story. By that I mean its formulaic, the unlikely criminal becomes a criminal then becomes successful and then from an equally unlikely source they are brought down- it has been done a lot before.

Moreover, the leads don’t really bring much to the table. Howell-Baptiste is never really given much to do and basically gets to play side kick to Kristen Bell the whole film which is a shame as of the two I think Howell Baptiste shows the most promise here. Bell on the other hand doesn’t even seem to be trying she is playing a version of the same character she has played time and again before, the slightly naïve do gooder with a dark streak- see the Bad Moms films for more of that. Paul Walter Hauser is also playing the same character he has done before but his relationship with Vince Vaughn’s Simon does end up giving him a nice little character arc. Vaughn is the saving grace of the film, and he does provide the laughs if it were not for him this film would be much worse.

The feminist messages in the film are at best weak and pointless and worst awkward. Referring to themselves multiple times as ‘Queenpins’ felt cringe and then having the female character being motivated to act because she wants to get pregnant feels almost inherently sexist, women can want more than a child you know Hollywood. The whole cake line was also very needless, if you have seen the film you will know what I mean.

Overall, if it were not for Vince Vaughn this film would have been even worse.

Pros.

Vaughn

A few laughs

Cons.

Bell

The forced in feminism

They don’t give Howell-Baptiste anything to work with

It feels too familiar

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Comes A Day: Never Go To A Jewellery Shop They Just Aren’t Safe, Learn From Films

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of people become trapped in a jewellery shop during a robbery.

This film doesn’t seem to quite know what it wants to be, on the one hand it wants to be a dark comedy and on the other a pure crime film. However, the film brings over elements of each which end up complimenting each other nicely to produce a comedy crime film that will bring a smile to your face.

I have been a big fan of Craig Roberts for a while now, ever since I first watched Young Dracula on CBBC, and he continues to impress me across his career. I found his lead to be likeable and more than a little relatable, he feels human and reflects how most would be in that situation: I thought it was a masterstroke to have him not be the action hero sort as it would have thrown off the whole vibe of the film.

Furthermore, he is also supported by a very strong cast with Imogen Poots and Timothy Spall shining in every second of screen time. I appreciated the amount of character development Roberts’ and Spall’s characters get and think it was well done, however, it needed to be applied to Poots’ character who remained underdeveloped throughout. The same can also be said for the villains.

I think this films greatest weakness is that it is overly ambitious: it starts a lot of ideas and themes that it then doesn’t finish which cheapens the impact.

Overall, a very enjoyable crime film that could have just done with stronger villains and more development for Poots’ character.

Pros.

Spall

Roberts

The ending

Cons.

Poots is underserved

The villains need more personality

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