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Last Knights

Picture - Beau Flynn, Aksel Hennie, Reece... Berlin Germany, Thursday 21st August 2014

Beau Flynn, Aksel Hennie, Reece Ritchie, Ian McShane, Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Dwayne Johnson, Irina Shayk, Rufus Sewell and Brett Ratner - European premiere of 'Hercules' at CineStar IMAX im Sony Center in Berlin - Arrivals - Berlin, Germany - Thursday 21st August 2014

Hercules Review

Far more entertaining than it has any right to be, this is a big, messy blockbuster retelling of the Greek myth that thankfully has a sharp sense of humour and some surprising twists up its sleeve. The cast is also packed with veteran performers who know how to make the most of some eyebrow-raising innuendo, generating intrigue while keeping the audience laughing with them rather than at them.

The premise takes a revisionist approach, grounding the legend of the demigod Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) in real stories that have been exaggerated by his nephew Iolaus (Reece Ritchie), who travels with him as a kind of toga-era marketing expert. Their team of mercenaries includes wryly fatalistic seer Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), quick-witted blade-thrower Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), bow-wielding amazon Atalanta (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and loyal mute warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie). When they're offered a fortune by Lord Cotys (John Hurt) to quell a rebellion, they find themselves in the middle of a massive battle that doesn't go the way they expected. And as events take unforeseen turns, Hercules and his gang have to dig deep to turn the tide in their favour.

Johnson is a natural in the role, so massively pumped up that he looks like he could be popped with a pin. His hulking physique and just enough back-story give the character's reputation some weight, both literally and figuratively, so even if he's not half-god his achievements are still pretty impressive. (There are also plenty of hints that he may turn out to be a god after all.) And the surrounding characters add to this with cleverly written roles that are expertly played by British scene-stealers Hurt, McShane, Sewell, Mullan and Fiennes. McShane is so good that he essentially walks off with the whole movie. But relative newcomers Ritchie, Hennie and Berdal more than hold their own.

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Hercules - Extended Trailer

Pioneer Review

A palpable sense of menace infuses this slow-burning Norwegian thriller, which is based on shocking, unsettling real-life events. Anchored by a terrific central performance from Aksel Hennie (Headhunters), the film sometimes strains to force the true story into a standard conspiracy movie structure. But it still has a bracing sense of urgency.

Hennie stars as Petter, Norway's top deep-sea diver, who in the early 1980s is recruited by the state-owned oil company to work with the Americans to lay a pipeline on the ocean floor connecting the mainland with off-shore drilling platforms. But this is uncharted territory for divers who will be working up to 400 metres below the surface. And when a test dive takes a fatal turn, Petter isn't convinced it was an accident. He certainly doesn't trust American diver Mike (Wes Bentley), but then everyone else is just as shifty.

Intriguingly, filmmaker Skjoldbjaerg shoots this in a gritty 1980s style tinged with the increasingly frazzled Petter's tenuous grip on reality. Diving this deep does something to the brain, so perhaps this is all in his mind. But Hennie is so likeable that we struggle with him to work out the truth, which means travelling through a Hitchcockian thriller in which everyone seems to be trying to kill him. This is fiercely clever filmmaking that's only let down because it's too clever for its own good.

Continue reading: Pioneer Review

Hercules - Trailer

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