Movies reviews

  • Becky

    Watched on

    5

    A teenager's weekend at a lake house with her father takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts wreaks havoc on their lives.

    Becky

    Review

    This is a straightforward home-invasion type of movie.

    There are some interesting roles and characters. Kevin James, the comedic actor from the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop, plays a menacing Nazi and is supported in the quest by a monosyllabic giant. The titular character of Becky is badass enough and the two dogs play useful roles, but the rest of the cast have little to do.

    I wanted to like this but it doesn’t gel. Nothing flows and, although the runtime is a svelte 96 minutes, I was waiting and waiting for the conclusion. It’s not quite b-movie material with little over-the-top insanity — although there is some and it’s gory. Overall it’s just not good enough.

  • Alone

    Watched on

    8

    A recently widowed traveler is kidnapped by a cold blooded killer, only to escape into the wilderness where she is forced to battle against the elements as her pursuer closes in on her.

    Alone

    Review

    Most of the movie focuses on just two characters in this slow but taut cat-and-mouse thriller. It is a simple yet suspenseful survival story. The cinematography is stylish, the camera work is precise and it is meticulously framed. It feels a little slow in places and the title cards are a distraction, but there are so many scenes which will have you on the edge of your seat.

  • Operation Mincemeat

    Watched on

    7

    During WWII, two intelligence officers use a corpse and false papers to outwit German troops.

    Operation Mincemeat

    Review

    This starts off at a rather glacial pace, with the setup of the operation taking up over half the runtime. This builds the tension to an unfathomable level once the pieces are moving.

    Like the practice of "intelligence", there were a lot of unknowns – the sequence with the briefcase in Spain was confusing – which mirrors the world they inhabit.

    There were massive stakes upon which their success rested, with dire consequences to thousands of soldiers if they failed. The movie explored this aspect well, but also added some smaller personal conflicts which helped ground many of the characters and their actions.

    The screenplay cleverly intertwined stories from the characters' favourite novels and their personal relationships with the fictional story they needed to concoct and make real. An interesting tidbit was the inclusion of Ian Fleming, a Lieutenant Commander, who is best known for writing the James Bond novels.

    It's a little longer than it needs to be, but the final 20 minutes are truly captivating.

  • The Gray Man

    Watched on

    5

    When the CIA's most skilled operative-whose true identity is known to none-accidentally uncovers dark agency secrets, a psychopathic former colleague puts a bounty on his head, setting off a global manhunt by international assassins.

    The Gray Man

    Review

    With a cast which included Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas, directed by the folks behind the two concluding Avengers movies and a reported 200 million budget, there was so much potential. All this produced was a poor generic action thriller which offers nothing new and struggles with some basics.

    The first two action sequences were shrouded in smoke which obfuscated what was happening. The best action sequence in the movie started with an assault on our protagonist who was hand-cuffed to a park bench, then progressed to a more dynamic scene on top of a moving tram. It was an impressive action scene, but there were some very questionable visual effects towards the end. Even the best scene pales in comparison to those from Heat or The Dark Knight among others.

    The backstory seemed bolted on but was necessary to add some motivation for our protagonist. The quips and monologues by the antagonist – although funny – felt out of character and out of place. There were some ideas which most brainless action movies ignore – such as "never throw a loaded gun" – which injected some realism, however it was often presented in an amusing way, which again conflicted with the overall tone of the movie.

    Following on from the gratuitous use of drone footage in Michael Bay’s Ambulance, the Russo Brothers employ a similar jarring and over-use of the technique. Whereas the former combined the overtop style with an overstyled movie, the shots in this movie just felt out-of-place and never connected with the rest of the photography. They were often just randomly cut in seemingly without thought.

    Stylish title cards of cities were used throughout, as the movie trotted around the globe, but unlike a James Bond movie, these locations ended up being forgettable and generic.

    A rather laborious action movie which was a disappointment. There were many elements which could've elevated this movie, but everything falls completely flat.

  • Greed

    Watched on

    5

    Satire about the world of the super-rich.

    Greed

    Review

    This isn’t a bad movie, more a mediocre one. The unusual narrative structure flows well between past and present and the movie is filled with a good cast. Based on a real-world character, the satire isn’t strong enough and simply comes across as horrible. There are nods to fake reality TV shows such as the vapid “Made in Chelsea” but the focus is on a billionaire fashion retail owner. The "twist" towards the end feels contrived but at least gives a little pay-off, if not completely obvious from the beginning.