True Lies (1994) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR – While some parts of this have aged as well as blue cheese in the sun, you can’t help but feel the pull and allure of a story swinging for the fences at every opportunity. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film

True Lies Review

When getting ready for my 2022 best of lists, I discovered that I had revied 99 films this year. Which made me wonder, what could be the lucky number 100? Just as I pondered that, True Lies finally made its way onto streaming. I have not seen this in years, but while I loved it when I was younger, the years are rarely kind to films like this. But given the year that James Cameron has had with Avatar, it was all the better time to jump back to one of his classics.  

So to set the scene, an exclusive party is taking part on a snowy cold night at Lake Chapeau, Switzerland, at a heavily guarded chalet. But not all the guests are coming in the front door. Some are cutting through the gates to the lake under the ice. Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) works for a secret US counterterrorism unit called Omega Sector and is investigating the billionaire art dealer Jamal Khaled (Marshall Manesh) as a possible front for laundering money to Islamic Terrorists. But no one outside of the agency and his team, Albert “Gib” Gibson (Tom Arnold) and Faisil (Grant Heslov), not even Harry’s wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku), knows what he does. One tango later, Harry must make a less-than-quiet exit from the party. But while his work and home life are separate entities, they are about to come crashing together.   

Continue reading

The Recruit – Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a delightfully fun romp through the world of espionage with a leading man finding himself in all the wrong places at all the right times.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this series.

Hiding behind your computer monitors.

The Recruit Review

I have to say that when I first heard about The Recruit, I was kind of a bit tired of the overall spy genre. Add to that, it was led by Noah Centineo, who I had never seen as a leading man before, and the constraints of the end of the year. Well, I was happy to give this a pass. But something niggled in the back of my head, and part of me had to see what was going on here and look. I am the first to admit I was wrong.

So to set the scene, Owen Hendricks (Noah Centineo) is a brand new lawyer for the general counsel’s office of the CIA. Most jobs make you feel like you are in over your head when you start. The CIA takes that to a whole new level when all of your colleagues are also trying to sabotage you. To prove himself and because people wanted him to fail, he takes on the grey mail. These are letters from people threatening the CIA. 99% of them are not threats, but in his first week, Owen has to find the one credible letter. Max Meladze (Laura Haddock) is locked in a Phoenix prison for caving a guy’s head in with a tyre wrench. But she also knows code word clearance intelligence and might just be able to destroy all the CIA’s operations in Belarus and Russia. Owen is happy to find the threat but less comfortable when he is tasked by his boss Walter Nyland (Vondie Curtis-Hall), to take care of it, and then quite put off when that leads to him getting his fingernail ripped off in a ruin in Yemen. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.   

Continue reading

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR – While it works as a time capsule of the 90s, so much of this film was left back 30 years ago  

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are mid-credit scenes

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this film

A henchmen and the Steam roller.

Austin Powers Review

When you have had a bad week, one reflex you do is go back to old films from your youth. The only issue is that the movies of your youth might often not have the narrative legs you once thought they did, or you are just looking at them with new eyes. This week, the film in this situation is the James Bond spoofing Austin Powers.

So to set the scene, in 1967, somewhere outside of Las Vegas, Dr Evil (Mike Myers) is holding court with his minions, frustrated that none of them has been able to kill the famous British agent Austin Danger Powers (Mike Myers). Meanwhile, in London, after a significant musical number during the credits, Mrs Kensington (Mimi Rogers) lets Austin know that Dr Evil has set a trap for him at the Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club. Not wanting to be left out, Austin goes to the club, but Dr Evil is about to escape and has himself cryogenically frozen. In 1997, NORAD is looking at their scopes, and suddenly an object appears, and they discover that Dr Evil has returned, and it is time for the world to need Austin Powers again.   

Continue reading

The Gray Man – Movie Review

TL;DR – A perfectly serviceable if messy action film but one that struggles to find an identity.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

A plane about to crash.

The Gray Man Review

You can feel that Netflix is a company going through an identity issue. No longer is it just ‘the place where you go for binging streaming content’ because others are doing it just as well, and now even the concept of binging has lost its value. So what we are getting are things being cancelled left, right and centre, but then $200 million being dropped on big-name films. I am not sure how this will go for the company, but we are getting to see the results of this tonight with The Gray Man.   

So to set the scene, we opened in 2003 in a state prison in Florida, where Donald Fitzroy (Billy Bob Thornton) of the CIA is here to recruit Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling). He is looking for people to add to his black-ops team, whose central role is assassinations in the ‘grey’. Eighteen years later, in Bangkok, Court is now Sierra Six and is one of the CIA’s best assists in the field, where he takes an op from Dani Miranda (Ana de Armas). It is a time-sensitive mission to take out Dining Car (Callan Mulvey), which is why they are using Six. But when he won’t risk the collateral of children, things start spiralling out of control, and then Six discovers that the mark Dining Car is Sierra Four and that his boss Denny Carmichael (Regé-Jean Page), might not be on the up and up.

Continue reading

The 355 – Movie Review

TL;DR – While this is a good concept, unfortunately, production and narrative issues feel like an anchor dragging the film back at every moment.    

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

The cast walk into an auction in fancy dress.

The 355 Review

One of the more frustrating things to see is when you have a narrative with an exciting hook that just plods along with a generic presentation. Today we are unfortunately looking at a film that does just that, and given what they were trying, it feels like a real missed opportunity.

So to set the scene, 150 Miles south of Bogota, Colombia, there appears to be a drug deal going on, but it is much worse. They are there to make a trade for a back door key into any of the world’s secure communications. At this point, a gunfight explodes out between the two cartels and the Colombian military and the key is lost in the melee until it is picked up by the last man standing (Édgar Ramírez). The last man standing is an operative for the CIA and immediately goes into hiding in Paris. It is up to CIA agents Mason “Mace” Browne (Jessica Chastain) and Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan) to secure it, which is where things start going wrong.

Continue reading

All the Old Knives – Movie Review

TL;DR –  While it might not stick the landing, it did engage me right up to that point

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime subscription that viewed this episode.

All the Old Knives. Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

All the Old Knives Review

Some films spark your interest from the cast list alone. One of those combinations is Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, and Jonathan Pryce, all working together in a film. Add a layer of spies, subterfuge, regrets, and loves lost, and you have the groundwork for something interesting or at least something that speaks to me.  

So to set the scene, we opened in Vienna, where terrorists hijacked a Turkish Airlines plane, Flight 127. At the CIA-Vienna outpost, all the team look in horror as the carnage unfolds. 8-years later, one of the terrorists involved was captured in Afghanistan, who let it be known that the terrorists had help from inside the CIA-Vienna station. Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne) tasks Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) to investigate his former team, the second in command Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce), his old love Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton), and the whole team. They need to find out if there was a mole in the department and if it caused the deaths of all those people.

Continue reading

Without Remorse (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse) – Movie Review

TL;DR – In many ways, it feels like almost a relic of a different time. But there was a lot of work put into this film, and the cast is clearly here for it.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this movie.

Without Remorse (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse). Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Without Remorse Review

I am not sure that any modern author’s works have been adapted as much as Tom Clancy. From movies to TV shows to video games, the late author’s name is everywhere as his works of political intrigue get adapted and then readapted. His works are deeply political, so it is always interesting to see how it has been reinterpreted for a different time. Today, I look at the latest film adaption of his work with Without Remorse.     

So to set the scene, we open in Aleppo, Syria, as John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan) and his team are sent sneak into a stronghold to rescue a CIA operative captured by government forces by CIA operative Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell). However, when they arrive, it is not Syrian Government forces holding the officer but Russian forces. As they try to exfil from the building, an RPG splits the team, but they manage to escape. Three months later, John is in Washington DC with his very pregnant wife Pam (Lauren London), preparing to leave the Navy. Still, unknown to him, his old team is getting assassinated one at a time across America.

Continue reading

No Time to Die – Movie Review

TL;DR – A solid ending for Daniel Craig’s run as Bond, giving James the most to play with as the world explodes around him.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a Press Screening of this film

No Time to Die. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

No Time to Die Review

Well, it has been a long time, getting from there to here. Eighteen months since it was meant to be released, and Bond is finally making its return. Part of me was concerned that we would never get to see the film out in the real, another part of me was concerned given how Spectre turned out, but here we are. There is always a trepidation going into the film where you know it is an actor’s last. Thankfully, I should not have been concerned because this film almost knocks off Skyfall as my favourite of the Craig era.  

So to set the scene, we open in the middle of the Norwegian winter as a young girl (Coline Defaud) is looking after her sick mother (Mathilde Bourbin). As she is cleaning up a spill, she sees a man in the window wearing a mask. He is here to kill Mr White, but his family is an excellent second choice since he is not there. In the present, Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) are enjoying their retirement travelling down the Italian coastline arriving at the town of Matera. Swann is concerned that James keeps looking over his shoulder, but that seems fortuitous given that soon bullets start ringing out across the countryside. 

Continue reading

Black Widow – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film with a great cast, strong banter, engaging action, but the third act does not capitalise on all these.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

Black Widow. Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Black Widow Review

Back when Spider-Man: Far From Home came out in July 2019, I don’t think anyone knew just how long it would be before we got another Marvel film up on the big screen. Well, just over two years later, it is time to dive back into this world by going back to a time just after Civil War.

So to set the scene, we begin our film in the deep dark days of the far past, the 1990s. In Ohio, we are introduced to a completely average family, normal except for the fact that it is entirely manufactured and the father Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) and mother Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) are Russian spies. They are here to steal secrets from SHIELD (well, HYDRA pretending to be SHIELD). One emergency flight to Cuba and the family is split up and forced into the Soviet machine. Years later, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is now on the run after Civil War, and it just so happens to be time for a family reunion.  

Continue reading

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier: Power Broker – TV Review

TL;DR – The episode where we got on a fun Road-trip with Zemo [A sentence I never thought I would write]

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no End Credit Scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this episode.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier: Power Broker. Image Credit: Disney+.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier Review

One of the strengths of the MCU is that that it can fit its films and shows into several different genres and tones. The Captain America films have always felt like they fit into this more grounded spy world, and this week we get to see it spin off soar in the same territory.  

So to set the scene, at the end of last week’s episode, The Star-Spangled Banner, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) and Sam (Anthony Mackie) had reached a dead end. They have tried to track down the new terrorist organisation, but with no luck. Well, when you reach rock bottom, it is time to scrape that barrel and visit an old antagonist, Zemo (Daniel Brühl). He knows all about Hydra and its hidden places, so this would be a good idea … right? Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

Continue reading