Pusher III: Hosting A Party Is More Stressful Than Running A Drug Empire

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Refn concludes his Pusher trilogy with a day in the life of Milo, played by Zlatko Buric, the drug lord from the first film.

Though I still enjoyed this film I thought it was the most needless of the trilogy and could see why Refn didn’t really want to make sequels, this one felt the most stagnate and time killy. Whilst the other films had an ever increasing sense of tension and claustrophobia this film feels decidedly smaller in scale and in stakes. Though for the most part this leads the film to feel less enthralling it also gives us a more intimate look at this character and their mentality which is nice and leads to a number of good character moments.

I think Buric does a good job here and keeps the film trucking along nicely, of the series characters I feel like he was the only one other than the two already used interesting enough to justify there own film and it was intriguing to see his own little slice of the underworld.

I would say this film struggled with its pace as unlike the others it did have moments that drastically slowed down and in doing so lost your attention.

Overall, a good but not great ending to the trilogy.

Pros.

Buric

The intimacy

A deeper look at Milo’s slice of the underworld

Cons.

Pacing issues

Weaker stakes

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Pusher II: Sometimes One Just Needs To Run Away

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The second film in the Pusher series follows Tonny, played by Mads Mikkelsen, as he gets out of prison and tries to return to his former life of crime.

Mikkelsen is magnificent here as always, as we see his Tonny grow over the course of the film, and feel  the claustrophobic metaphorical walls of Tonny’s life closing in around him trapping him into a cycle of criminality and abuse. Honestly, the final sequence of the film when Tonny finally turns on his gangster father, played by Leif Sylvester, and runs away with his baby is incredibly powerful and a lot of the sequence is incredibly reminiscent of Refn’s later film Drive.

I enjoyed the return to the Danish underworld and thought there was still a lot here to be mined and explored. I liked the juxtaposition of having Tonny not fit into this world at all, though not through a lack of wanting to. Though in many ways the character is morally repugnant Mikkelsen plays him with such a sense of weary charm and desperation that you can’t help but like him. The supporting cast all have moments to shine here, but this is very much Mikkelsen’s film.

Overall, an incredibly strong film.

Pros.

Mikkelsen

The world

The ending

The emotion and the stakes

Cons.

It feels a little rushed at times

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Cherry: Try As He Might Tom Holland Cannot Pull Off Mature Roles

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Tom Holland tries to prove that he is a serious actor and that he can play mature parts as well as Spider-Man, a spoiler for you he can’t.

I feel bad for Holland I really do; he has tried hard to throw off his youthful boyish family appeal, but try as he might he just can’t seem to do it. Despite many saying things to the extent of ‘oh this is going to be an Oscar worthy performance’ or ‘oh you have never seen Holland like this’, it still feels like a student made fan film wherein you have to cast whoever will be in the film for the role even if they don’t fit the part. As Holland really doesn’t fit the part at all.

This film tries to make bold comments about society and life, with Holland’s character going through the army, drug addiction and the criminal underworld. However, it all feels paper thin and like a teen trying to be edgy and dark to show how mature they are, it all feels very try hardy.

Moreover, there is no reason for this film to be on for as long as it is. Honestly this film could be half the time and would probably be better for it, it drags on and on and feels as though it is trying to bait you into turning it off: and you battle with that you really do.

Overall, the Russo’s and Holland should stick to making Marvel films.

Pros.

Holland is really trying and you can feel that sadly it just doesn’t work

Cons.

It is trying way too hard to be edgy

It philosophies are weak

Holland is badly miscast

It has awful pacing issues 

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Villain: The Saddest Of The Gangland Films

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A recently released convict, played by Craig Fairbrass, must try and save his families pub from gangland threats.

To me this film failed to be in any way fun, yes though it is a different type of fun a lot of the gangland films, particularly those with Danny Dyer, have enough charm or gravitas to keep you around and enjoying yourself until the end of the film, this didn’t have that.

Not only was this film depressing, it was morbidly depressing, and seemed to go out of its way to be grim and off putting, honestly watching it made me sad. I understand the point the film was trying to make by having Fairbrass’ character die at the end, the superfluousness of his life style and how in the end even if you win you die, and it did deliver this message however, it just made the film feel even more of a downer and left a bit of a bad taste as well.

Fairbrass is fine he is playing a slightly toned down version of his Rise Of The Foot Soldier character. He tries hard to try and round the character and to add emotional depth though this ends in a colossal failure.

Overall, who was this made for?

Pros.

It is short

Fairbrass is trying

Cons.

The ending

It is depressing

There is no charm to it

It has pacing issues galore  

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The Whole Ten Yards: Bruce Willis With Long Hair

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Jimmy, played by Bruce Willis, Jill, played by Amanda Peet, Oz, played by Matthew Perry and Cynthia, played by Natasha Henstridge, must all come out of seeming retirement when a new threat with ties to their shared past immerges seeking revenge.  

Really there is no reason for this film to exist. It does not match the original, though it tries to mimic it. This film does not seem to understand what made the first film entertaining, or maybe it does and can’t quite capture it again. All of the parts are seemingly there to recapture magic but it doesn’t work, it feels as though everyone is just here for the pay check.

The film is not terrible however and still manages to be watchable at times, I found Bruce Willis to again be quite funny though I thought his character was written as more of a one note caricature here which I thought was a disservice. Willis tries hard to keep this film together, that is a phrase I never thought I would be writing, but everyone else around him is just going through the motions.

Overall, this suffers from a common problem needless sequel syndrome, the first worked we didn’t need this.

Pros.

Willis

It is watchable

A few funny scenes

Cons.

 The wider cast are wasted and feel just there to get paid

It doesn’t justify its own existence

It can’t recapture the original

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House Of Gucci: Can The Kids Look Up From Their Phones To Watch This, Honestly Probably Not

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The infighting within the Gucci family

I will preface this review by saying I am exactly the sort of person that Ridley Scott doesn’t like, one of those kids today that will happily watch a film on their phone, however I showed up to both of his film’s this year and I have to say honestly The Last Duel was better.

I think the biggest thing that didn’t work for me here were the performances. Far from being worthy of award both the leads were fairly awful. Lady Gaga’s character was supposed to be likeable and then get progressively worse over the course of the film in terms of morals, at least that’s what I got from the trailers, but that wasn’t the case she started out deeply unlikeable and clearly badly intended from the beginning and only got worse, her character was deeply one note. Worse yet, Adam Driver plays two completely different characters here, yet you would never know. The first half of the film his character seems nice and fairly unassuming and then bang.. he just changes at the midpoint to be cruel and mean and entirely unlike how we have seen him so far, why? Because the story needs him to, it reeks of bad character work.

Jared Leto isn’t as bad as you might have heard, but that is not to say he is good either.

The only reason this film didn’t get lower is because it has a strong soundtrack of memorable hits and good performances from Al Pacino and Jeremey Irons, those three things are enough to keep the film watchable if nothing else.

Overall, a disappointment also there was no need for this to be on for well over two hours it was in no way an epic.

Pros.

Irons and Pacino

The soundtrack

Cons.

Gaga

Driver

The runtime is oppressive

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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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