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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.  

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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. 

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Nobody – Movie Review

TL;DR – An incredible violent romp through the suburbs after the Russian mob picked the wrong man to come after.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.

Nobody. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Nobody Review

When John Wick first blasted onto the scene, it was this dramatic shift in how action movies could be presented. Instead of a disjointed mess, there was flow. Instead of shying away from the realities, you saw it all up close and personal. Many films have tried to copy that style with mixed success, but today we look at a movie that nails it, and all it took was the same writer and producer to make it happen.

So to set the scene, the film opens with Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk), a man who goes through the same dull routine each week (which makes it surprising that he can’t remember to put out the rubbish). There is a growing distance between him and his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) that is exacerbated when the house is robbed, and Hutch lets his son Blake (Gage Munroe) get punched rather than take someone out with a golf club. But while the world sees Hutch as mild-mannered, or more clearly a wimp, he is actually a former CIA wet work expert known as an Auditor, which local Russian Mafia boss Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov) discovers the hard way when he comes after Hutch and his family.

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Tenet – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that blasts onto the screen with a roar of trumpets only to get bogged down in its own worldbuilding.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Awards

Nominated: All That Tension

Tenet. Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

Review

There are some filmmakers out there whose work has been consistently engaging that every new release gets immediately put on the must-watch list. For me, these are filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve, Ryan Coogler, Roger Deakins, Patty Jenkins, Taika Waititi, Wayne Blair, George Miller, and if I am honest with myself, at the top of that list for me is Christopher Nolan. His film Inception is still on my Top 10 Films list, and his work is always interesting even if like Interstellar the film does not capture me. Well, we live in precarious times, and I was not sure if I was going to be able to see Tenet in some form for a while, but thankfully I did get to see a screening today, and well, I think this is a film that is going to fall in the latter.

So to set the scene, we open in on an opera house in Kyiv, Ukraine, as a group of armed terrorists surge through the band and occupy the theatre. As the police arrive, one van is not what it seems because onboard is a CIA team led by our unnamed protagonist (John David Washington). This whole attack is a ruse to take out an operative whose cover has been blown, and it is our protagonist’s job to get the agent out. It all went wrong, but instead of dying to a cyanide capsule, he wakes up on a boat heading to an off-shore wind farm. It is here where he is informed that he is dead to the world, but a new opportunity has opened up. He is to explore Tenet, a mysterious phrase that is being used by arms smugglers and the like and which could be more dangerous than a missing nuclear weapon.  

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TV Review – Bard of Blood

TL;DR – This an interesting spy series which is unfortunately held back a bit with inconsistent pacing and the flow-on effects from that.  

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Bard of Blood. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

One of my goals this year has been to expand my global cinema intake from places away from the traditional English speaking countries that I am used to. I have not been as successful as I would have liked, but when a new Indian spy thriller drops on Netflix you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Now I have finished it, wow, is this series a lot, and I think it might also have lasting repercussions.

So to set the scene, in Balochistan, Pakistan, a group of Indian deep-cover spies are in a lude video internet café using it as a cover as they upload important information back to New Delhi. However, before they can finish, they are captured by the local Taliban. Before they can be executed the Pakistani Intelligence forces intercede and save then, not to keep them alive, but to kill them at the right time and place. Back in India, one of the chiefs in India’s Intelligence bureau Sadiq (Rajit Kapur) feels that something is odd so he seeks out Kabir Anand (Emraan Hashmi) code name Adonis but there is bad blood between them over what happened last time in Pakistan. He instead sends Isha (Sobhita Dhulipala) to retrieve him, however, Sadiq is murdered in his home and Adonis is framed, and only he might be able to save the agents because there is a mole in the Indian government and he does not know who they might be. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Polar

TL;DR – This is a film that revels in the tonal whiplash, but aside from an interesting performance from Mads it never quite comes together.     

Score – 2 out of 5 stars

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

Polar. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

One of the things I have been really enjoying the last couple of years is how action films are taking leaps and bounds with their cinematography and storytelling. This has led to some interesting films being made that explore weird and wonderful scenarios. Today we are looking at a film that first came into being as a graphic novel and you can see that DNA all throughout this film. Though while Polar has made the jump from the page to the big screen, or at least as big a screen as you want with Netflix, I am not sure it was a completely successful transition.

So to set the scene, we open in the wilds of Chile where Michael Green (Johnny Knoxville) is very much enjoying the last few days before his retirement, with drugs, booze, and of course women. Just one problem, one of those things is about to kill him, and sure enough, he is not long for this world. Back in America, Duncan (Mads Mikkelsen) is a fortnight away from his own mandatory retirement when he finds out that many of the agents form the hitman company he works for has been killed in recent days. Vivian (Katheryn Winnick) his contact and his handler for Mr Blut (Matt Lucas) lets him know that they have found the person killing all their agents and Duncan is tasked with going to Belarus to send a message. Just one problem, all is not what it seems.     

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