Tag Archives: Tom Wilkinson

[Trailer] – The Lone Ranger

11 Dec

The Lone Ranger

It’s been over a couple of months since we got our first look at next summer’s The Lone Ranger so a new, longer trailer has just been released which you can watch below.

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[Trailer] – The Lone Ranger

3 Oct

A lot has been made about The Lone Ranger, from the budget issues to the huge production to the fact that a crew member unfotunately died on set a few weeks ago. Well, now at least we have something to feast our eyes upon, as the first trailer for the film has been released and you can watch it below.

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[Review] – The Samaritan

2 Jun

Title: The Samaritan
Year: 2012
Director: David Weaver
Writers: David Weaver and Elan Mastai
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Luke Kirby, Ruth Negga, Tom Wilkinson, Gil Bellows, Aaron Poole
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Runtime: 90 min
IMDb Rating: 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 22%
Metacritic: 37

Samuel L. Jackson is a pretty badass guy, we can all agree on that, right? He’s Jules Winnfield, Shaft, Frozone, Nick Fury, and that guy who’s had it with the motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane. Ideally, had his latest film, The Samaritan, ended up being good, we could have added the role of Foley to that list of great kickass characters the screen icon has created. Unfortunately, not only is the film not good at all, but Mr. Jackson isn’t even doing his usual thing in it, instead just dully delivering lines without any kind of meaning or emotion.

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[Review] – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

16 May

Title: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Year: 2012
Director: John Madden
Writer: Ol Parker, based on the novel by Deborah Moggach
Starring: Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Celia Imrie, Dev Patel
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sexual content and language
Runtime: 124 min
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Metacritic: 62

The Best Exotic Marigold has been doing some really solid business lately, already having made quite a bit of bank abroad where it was released first, and getting into the Top 10 in the US this weekend even though it’s only playing on limited release, earning a really nice per-screen average and becoming a solid counter-programming for mostly older people who aren’t giving into the hype of The Avengers. And even though it’s not great filmmaking by any means, I definitely get the appeal of this film, it’s a nice enough, though predictable, story and then it all gets propelled to bigger heights because of its cast. Seriously, take a second to scroll up and read the names of the people who star in this one, some of the very best and most experienced actors are popping up here having fun with their roles.

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Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

24 Dec

Title: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Year: 2011
Director: Brad Bird
Writers: André Nemec and Josh Appelbaum, based on the television series by Bruce Geller
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Samuli Edelmann, Anil Kapoor, Josh Holloway, Léa Seydoux, Tom Wilkinson
MPAA Rating: PG-13, sequences of intense action and violence
Runtime: 133 min
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Metacritic: 74

 

The first two Mission: Impossible films, released in 1996 and 2001, helped solidify Tom Cruise as a true movie star more than capable of carrying an action franchise full of really awesome effects-driven setpieces. Another five years passed and in 2006 J.J. Abrams stepped up to direct a third installment, which up until now had actually been my favorite of the entire series, with an awesome pacing and spectacular stunts that proved that Tom Cruise still very much had it. Now, another five years have gone by, and we get Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth installment in the franchise; but in this interim between films Mr. Cruise’s stock in Hollywood had decreased quite a bit, with only his cameo in the hilarious Tropic Thunder salvaging something from the disappointments that were Lions for Lambs, Valkyrie and last year’s Knight & Day (which I gave a B- to), the latter of which was considered by many a commercial disappointment and put doubts as to whether Mr. Cruise could still carry an action film by himself.

Which is maybe why it seemed to make some sense when word was heard that the new Mission: Impossible film was courting actors like Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and Anthony Mackie for the role of a new spy that would act alongside Mr. Cruise’s Ethan Hunt in this one, to then maybe transition into a starring role and take over if the franchise moved forward. Jeremy Renner eventually landed that role (getting himself his first of three franchises, what with the upcoming Avengers movie and his leading role in the Bourne reboot), and he’s incredibly good in this film. But, what I’m getting at is that having someone take over from Tom Cruise won’t be necessary, this film has the man back in top form, delivering one of my twenty favorite films of the entire year, and certainly the best one yet in the whole franchise.

Seriously, this is the definition of what a good action blockbuster should be; really fast-paced, full of huge setpieces that are stunning to behold and really grab you by the throat, and an impeccable overall style courtesy of director Brad Bird, who with this film made a seriously incredible foray into live-action features, having previously dabbled only in animation, winning two Oscar’s in the process for Pixar’s The Incredibles and Ratatouille. And Tom Cruise is just awesome in this one, making us forget about any recent missteps and just remember him as the pure action star he was, his added years actually add something to him, making Ethan Hunt feel like a more weathered and experienced guy, and the fact that Mr. Cruise himself performed the stunt in which he scales the outside of the Burj Khalifa Tower without any help from a stuntman is really mind-boggling. He’s just the real deal, a true movie star of which we don’t have many left, with the looks, charm and actual chops it takes to carry a huge film like this.

As much as this is Mr. Cruise’s show, however, kudos have to be given to whoever made the decision of making this new Mission: Impossible transition from its tried-and-true method of just making it about Ethan Hunt saving the day, into more of a team adventure, with Mr. Renner’s Brandt, as well as Simon Pegg’s Benji and Paula Patton’s Jane, taking off some of the weight from him and adding quite a bit of their own charisma and talents to make the film really stand out. This is a classic action film, we’re whirled around the world to exotic locales, we have really gorgeous women (Léa Seydoux is stunning), nifty gadgets that you want to exist really badly, and a movie star doing some seriously jaw-dropping stunts for over two hours which go by like a breeze.

The fact that this comes from a man who usually works at Pixar is only further proof that that’s the best company to work at in the world. Not to mention that it was only a matter of time before animation directors made a jump to live-action films (Wall-E‘s Andrew Stanton is spearheading John Carter for Disney which is due in March), after all, special-effects are mostly done on computers now, and animation is looking incredibly real and is known for a lot of action, not to mention that Mr. Bird’s animated films have a lot of character development and The Incredibles was the first Pixar film about humans. So Brad Bird was actually a genius choice to take the reigns of this film, and how masterfully this whole endeavor is constructed: shot really gracefully, impeccably choreographed and with a great sense of humor, only validates that decision like crazy, and Paramount would have to be dumb not to beg him to return for another go-round in the already-announced fifth film in the franchise.

This is a pure action film, that’s done in the best way possible; that shot I mentioned atop of the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai is one of the best minutes of film I’ve seen all year, the way it’s choreographed and shot and edited taking your breath away. And even though that’s certainly the scene everyone will be talking about, and with good reason, that assessment applies to every other set piece we see in this film, the bit inside the Kremlin with the super high-tech screen, the opening prison break that’s really well done, and of course that climatic battle in a super modern car park in which metal platforms go up and down to retrieve cars; every last minute of this damn film is supremely cool.

The plot involves a villain, that’s played by Michael Nyqvist (the guy who played Mikael Blomkvist in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its two sequels), an evil genius who has Russian launch codes and plans to use them in order to start a nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, working under the theory that he believes such a chaos would bring forward natural selection and more highly evolved humankind. Ethan Hunt and his team, of course, are the ones that are to prevent such a war from taking place. The catch, however, and where the film’s subtitle comes from, is that the government has initiated ghost protocol after his team was involved in a really messy international incident, which means that now their government won’t acknowledge their existence, hanging them out to dry without any sort of assistance and with many people under the impression that they’re potential terrorists when in reality they’re the ones chasing the terrorists.

The fact that the team has to fend for itself without being able to call for assistance and relying just on each other and their own wits is damn awesome, Mr. Cruise being the team leader, the guy who calls the shots and takes the risks; Mr. Renner playing an “analyst” with more than a few surprises up his sleeve, a great counterpart to Ethan Hunt and a worthy successor if Mr. Cruise should ever decide his team as the guy dangling from the world’s tallest building is up; Mr. Pegg’s minor role from the last movie as a comic relief is upgraded to a fully-fleshed character now, and he’s awesome as always, providing some of the aforementioned humor that Mr. Bird relies on to keep this film from taking itself too seriously; and Ms. Patton is good as Jane, combining a sexyness with the ability to really kick some ass.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is by far the best of the franchise, and it’s one of the year’s best films, one that manages to make 133 minutes seem like a really short time, expertly knowing how to blow your mind and keep you at the edge of your seat. Front and center is Tom Cruise, showing that he still has the goods, being a true movie star, carrying a film with a little help from some truly talented friends. And chief amongst those friends is the man behind the camera, Brad Bird, a guy who deserves a lot of credit for this film being as amazing as it is, making a jump from animation to live-action that Andrew Stanton can only hope he can come close to emulating and, strangely enough considering his background, showing that live-action stunts done with wires and actual guys that do their physics-defyings jobs, Mr. Cruise included, can be just as exhilarating as the best CGI out there.

Grade: A

Burke and Hare

10 Oct

Title: Burke and Hare
Year: 
2011
Director: 
John Landis
Writers: Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft
Starring: 
Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson
MPAA Rating: 
Not rated
Runtime: 
91 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 
36%

 

Seeing John Ladis’ name listed as the director in a film used to mean people would expect comedic greatness from that movie. And those expectations were grounded in solid evidence, this is the guy that gave us Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London, Trading Places, Three Amigos and Coming to America between the late seventies and the eighties, all of them classic comedy films that are revered by a good number of people. The nineties saw the decline of Mr. Landis’ work though, through a number of original films that failed both commercially and critically, and through him taking on directing duties on Beverly Hills Cop III, by far the worst entry in the franchise and the one that essentially killed off any chances of the series going any further, as well as doing a sequel to The Blues Brothers that seriously failed to live up to the level of the original. And it seems that Mr. Landis was aware that he had lost his golden touch as he hasn’t directed a single film since Susan’s Plan, which went straight to video back in 1998.

So when I saw that there was a new film out, Burke and Hare, directed by Mr. Landis after more than a dozen years without giving us a feature-length film, you can be sure I was plenty intrigued. And look, this film isn’t great by any means, and the director still has a long ways to go if he ever wants to go back to his glory days, but while I won’t really go around recommending Burke and Hare to my friends or to you readers, there was definitely a part of me that saw in it a few glimpses of the John Landis of old, even if only for a few moments. On paper though, it really seemed like this was going to be the true amazing comeback a man like John Ladis deserves, because he, who had given us the aforementioned An American Werewolf in London, was now teaming up with Simon Pegg, who gave us Shaun of the Dead in 2004. By which I mean, these are two guys who have done exceptional films that manage to balance horror and comedy in the best of ways, and they now were coming together to present a comedic take on the most notorious team of murderers in early nineteenth century Scotland, it just seemed to good to be true.

And it kind of was too good to be true, it seems, as Burke and Hare comes nowhere close to matching the heights achieved by Shaun of the Dead or An American Werewolf in London. What made those two films stand out as the perfect mixes of comedy and horror was that they were smart enough to know how to take the horror elements seriously and not become a farce, while also knowing where to put in funny bits that become all the more amazing because they serve as an escape from the horror. Now, I guess it’s pretty obvious why this one wasn’t as amazing as the other films Mr. Landis and Mr. Pegg have done that marry the genres, and that’s because this time neither of them had a hand on the script. And it obviously all boils down to the script in a film like this and considering that Piers Ashowrth and Nick Moorcroft, the duo in charge of this one, haven’t really done anything particularly good in their careers so far, I guess it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that Burke and Hare missed the target.

The other guy on whom this film relies on is also a favorite of mine, and that’s Andy Serkis, who of course I raved to the heavens for the stop-motion work he did as Caesar in this summer’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (which currently stands as the 11th best film of the year to date for me), and here he plays the other half of the murderous duo Mr. Pegg is a part of. Mr. Pegg is Burke and Mr. Serkis is Hare, two guys who live during the grim poverty-stricken time of Scotland during the 1820’s and found out that selling corpses to anatomy lecturers was quite the way to get a bit more cash and decided that instead of waiting for people to die of natural causes, like their first sell did, they might as well take matters into their own hands.

And the thing is that Burke and Hare is a film that while trying its best to play out as a comedy with straight-up horror bits in it, it never really ends up being neither funny nor mildly scary, and considering that was its main objective you can’t really consider this one a success. And it’s truly a pity because the talent here is amazing, other than Mr. Landis, Mr. Pegg and Mr. Serkis you have Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson, Hugh Bonneville, Bill Bailey and a slew of other prime British talent that goes to waste because the script just didn’t warrant something great. Because this really is all the fault of Mr. Ashworth and Mr. Moorcroft, as they tried to make the macabre funny, but by doing so they severely toned down their characters and they end up not being much at all, and as such they’re in a horrible limbo, not being able to provide a good scare nor much more than a mild-mannered chuckle. Burke and Hare will leave you thinking a lot about what could have been, and really hoping Mr. Landis doesn’t take another dozen years to try again.

Grade: C+

The Debt

3 Oct

Title: The Debt
Year: 
2011
Director: 
John Madden
Writers: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan, based on the 2007 Israeli film written by Assaf Bernstein and Ido Rosenblum
Starring: 
Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain, Ciarán Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, Marton Csokas, Jesper Christensen
MPAA Rating: 
R, some violence and language
Runtime: 
113 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 
78%

The talent that assembled for The Debt was enough to get me excited about it, the director is John Madden, who directed Shakespeare in Love which I love; the screenplay, based on an Israeli film, was done by Peter Staughan, who did The Men Who Stare at Goats as well as the much-hyped upcoming adaptation of John le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and by writer/director Matthew Vaughn and his usual writing partner Jane Goldman, who together have written the scripts for Mr. Vaughn’s amazing Stardust and Kick-Ass, as well as the one for his superhero entry, this year’s X-Men: First Class, which I have still to see. And the on-screen talent included proven veterans like Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciarán Hinds, as well as up-and-comers like Sam Worthington and the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain, who’s having the most unbelievable year thanks to her turns in the masterpiece that was The Tree of Life, the crowd-pleaser The Help, this film, and the upcoming Coriolanus, Take Shelter and Wilde Salome (yes, she’s in every other awesome-looking film this year). So yes, I was psyched about The Debt.

And it really ended up being a fantastic film, one of the most solid entries in this sort of genre I’ve seen in a while, just very smartly-written and terrifically acted by the amazing cast, this gets to be just a very taut and successful spy thriller, the likes of which we really need more of nowadays. It was just an amazingly well crafted film, and through its many twists and turns you have Ms. Mirren or Ms. Chastain there to guide you through its intricate plot structure which uses a time-shifting narrative in a way I thought was just very neat as we get a decades-spanning espionage story dealing with an Israeli-Nazi score settling. In that way we get a film that’s very interested in how the truths of the past can be either amped up or dialed down by the situations of the present, and delves into the psychological and ethical complexities that many times lie within a person that has been presented as a hero.

And so Mr. Madden takes us through a story that shifts between a dark apartment in East Berlin in the mid-sixties and the bright city of Tel Aviv over three decades after that. And what we get is great, as we see the story of Mossad secret agent Rachel Singer, portrayed by Ms. Chastain during the bits set in the past and by Ms. Mirren in the present-day ones. It’s her story that drives this film the most, the one that has the key to all of the problems it poses, but it’s also the rest of the amazing cast that serve up a story full of deception that will really leave you eager to follow this one through its intricate maze. What happens is that the what happened in that Cold War-era Berlin made heroes of the three Mossad agents that were there to capture a Nazi fugitive, and three decades later the daughter of Singer and her ex-husband Stephan Gold, who was also part of the heroic trio, has written a book about their exploits, making her mother seem like some sort of courageous woman who did what had to be done in times of extreme pressure.

At the launch party for said book we see Rachel as played by Ms. Mirren sporting a grim that shows that her memories about the time that cemented her as a hero aren’t precisely something she really likes to think back upon all that much. And so the film starts hinting at all sorts of mysteries and elements of intrigue that it effectively starts developing through flashbacks that give us insight into the real story, and when the third member of the team, David, arrives, we get a hint that there’s much more to what meets the eye, and we go backwards and then forwards again, learning more and more about the secrets that abound in this story and the consequences these have had in the people involved.

I won’t spoil some of the flashbacks or the twists, that’s for you to experience when you go see The Debt, just rest assured that even though some of the turns this one takes are super ambitious, they’re always executed to perfection by a cast and crew that are tremendously skilled at what they do, with Mr. Madden keeping both timelines moving like crazy at a great pace going forward to their inevitable and climatic clash, with a cinematography by Ben Davis (who also did Kick-Ass and Stardust for Mr. Vaughn) that’s beautiful and with a cast full of people that are just amazing. I mean, seriously, Ms. Chastain and Ms. Mirren at times actually seem like they’re playing different characters and not the same person, and even though that can be problematic, it doesn’t take away from the individual achievements of their specific performances, Ms. Mirren playing a more stoic version of a character that’s played by Ms. Chaistain as someone with a bit more pizzaz in a way. Ms. Chastain, by the way, deserves every good thing that’s being said about her in this, her stunning breakout year, she’s the real thing.

I really recommend The Debt, it’s not some sort of masterful espionage thriller, but it has a lot of outstanding elements that were wonderfully created. The whole moody and dark sort of approach at the themes of guilt and the ambiguity that can be found in the morality of this tale are really good. And it’s not just about that, as this film cranks up the adrenaline more than a few times and delivers action sequences that are masterfully choreographed and really makes the action parts of it match the intellectual qualities it possesses. I do believe, however, and this is pretty much the only considerable problem I had with the film, that by paying too much attention to all of these clever twists it gave us, it sort of bypassed a lot of the juicy political and emotional stories it could have delved further into. And that’s a problem for me, especially considering it had the cast that it had, because, no matter how clever and entertaining this was, it could have been more.

Grade: B+