Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with filmmaker James Mangold, who also directed 2013's The Wolverine. But this doesn't feel like any other X-Men movie; it strikes a sombre, gritty tone from the start to take the audience on a dark and rather brutal road trip. So while it feels rather long and repetitive, the movie also has a strong emotional kick.
It's set in the year 2029, when mutants have been wiped off the planet, and no new ones have been born for years. Hiding out in a drunken haze as a Texas limo driver, Logan aka Wolverine (Jackman) has stashed Charles aka Professor X (Patrick Stewart) across the border in Mexico, watched over by albino caretaker Caliban (Stephen Merchant). Then a nurse (Elizabeth Rodriguez) appears asking for Logan's help to transport the young Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota. And Laura clearly has a genetic connection with Logan. It also turns out that she has escaped from a Mexico City hospital, so as Logan, Charles and Laura hit the road, the ruthless henchman Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and sinister Dr Rice (Richard E. Grant) are hot on their trail.
Mangold holds all of this in careful control, never tipping over into the usual whiz-bang Hollywood superhero action chaos (the violence is especially grisly). The story moves at a steady pace that adds an involving note of desperation to each sequence. This also makes the movie feel a bit repetitive and even wheel-spinning at times. Since the baddies are able to stay right on the heroes' heels, it's clear that even a nicely offhandedly sojourn with a farmer (Eriq La Salle) and his family will be short-lived. But the gnawing intensity, while never quite building into proper suspense, gets deep under the skin as it fleshes out the characters.
Continue reading: Logan Review
The music scene of Austin, Texas becomes tainted by lust and illict desires as two aspiring songwriters named Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling) become entwined in two overlapping love triangles with a major player in the music business named Cook (Michael Fassbender) - who encourages them to take their music careers further - and a charming waitress (Natalie Portman). As much as their lives are about making it in the industry and becoming world renowned successes, their lives get more complicated by disloyalty, temptation and infatuation with each other, pushing all of them ultimately further away. Can love last when betrayal lies at every corner?
Continue: Song To Song Trailer
With its grindingly low-key tension and unusual perspectives, this Western has a chance to revamp the genre in intriguing ways. The first-rate cast adds plenty of depth to the usual roles, including a strong female point-of-view from Natalie Portman, who also produced the film. But some rather simplistic thematic touches undermine the originality, and the film never quite cracks through the surface to become something meaningful.
It's set in 1871 New Mexico, where Jane (Portman) lives on a hidden ranch with her outlaw husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) and their young daughter. But Bill's been badly injured, and the notorious scoundrel Bishop (Ewan McGregor) has vowed to track him down. For help Jane turns to her ex-fiance Dan (Joel Edgerton), an angry gunslinger who has never got over being abandoned by Jane all those years ago. He agrees to help her, and of course Bill isn't too happy about this, but he's too injured to protest. And Jane is so fiercely independent that she refuses to let her history with these two men define her future.
The premise is packed with all kinds of intriguing layers, but the script continually over-explains everything with a series of flashbacks to Jane's earlier encounters with Dan, Bishop, Bishop's hotheaded brother (Boyd Holbrook) and a particularly brutal desperado (Rodrigo Santoro). Not one of these people has even a hint of morality about them, which gives the actors a chance to inject a lot of complex texture into their performances. These are tough-minded men who never stop to think about the rule of law. And Portman's Jane is steelier than all of them, a woman who makes her own hard decisions in a place that doesn't let anyone off easily. Portman is terrific in the role, even if director Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) undermines her with his rather straightforward approach. Even so, her scenes with Edgerton and McGregor crackle with subtext.
Continue reading: Jane Got A Gun Review
Jane Hammond has always been an independent woman, but living in the developing West is precarious even for her. After a treacherous few years and constant aggravation from a nasty gang called The Bishop Boys, Jane marries a man by the name of Bill 'Ham' Hammond and things settle down.
However, when Hamm returns home badly injured after running into The Bishop Boys, Jane decides there's no other option but to face her past and take on the Colin McCann and the rest of the infamous gang. Jane contacts the only person she knows who she thinks will be able to help her, her ex-fiance and gunslinger Dan Frost. Recruiting Frost and returning to the family home, the three await the arrival of the gang. One way or another score will be settled.
Jane Got A Gun will be released in the UK from Spring 2016.
With a script by Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace), this thriller has more substance than most, although it's also been compromised by the inclusion of a lot of contrived action mayhem. At its centre, there's a nice exploration of two retirement-age men looking at the world they have created, and how things have changed since they made key decisions as younger men. But director Jaume Collet-Serra (Non-Stop) seems uninterested in these serious themes, and would clearly rather stage another shoot-out or chase instead.
Liam Neeson stars as Jimmy, a lifelong criminal who's now a wheezy husk of his former thrusting self. But he maintains his childhood friendship with Shawn (Ed Harris), who turned his crime empire legit but is having problems keeping his son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) out of trouble. Now Danny has made a dodgy deal with some Albanians, and when that goes predictably wrong, it accidentally puts Jimmy's estranged good-guy son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), his wife (Genesis Rodriguez) and kids in danger. So Jimmy sets out to set things right, although this means that he ends up on opposite sides of the conflict from Shawn. And he and Mike also have to outrun his detective nemesis (Vincent D'Onofrio) and a ruthless assassin (Common).
There's a nice sense of respect and inevitability to the relationship between Jimmy and Shawn that goes a long way in making this overlong movie watchable. Neeson and Harris are terrific at playing men who are too old to be running around with guns. Their quietly tense conversations are by far the most riveting scenes in the film. By comparison, the action sequences feel rather routine: brutal and fast, with flashy editing, outrageous stunts and more firepower than is strictly necessary. And for a man who can barely stand when the film opens, Jimmy is suspiciously able to run, jump, drive and shoot like a trained professional a third his age.
Continue reading: Run All Night Review
With a strikingly unflinching eye, newcomer Sara Colangelo astutely adapts her 2010 short into an evocative feature, beautifully capturing the impact a series of random tragedies can have on a community. It's gorgeously shot and sensitively acted by a skilled cast, and while the film remains a little too ambiguous for its own good, it still gets under the skin to leave us pondering some very hard issues.
It's set in a working-class West Virginia town that's still reeling after a devastating mining accident. The only survivor was Amos (Boyd Holbrook), who has been left injured both physically and psychologically. And it doesn't help that everyone is pressuring him to lie to the investigators while quietly resenting him for surviving. For support, he turns to Diane (Elizabeth Banks), the wife of the mine's manager (Josh Lucas). And Diane needs help too, because her teen son JT (Travis Tope) has gone missing. The only person who knows what happened is 14-year-old Owen (Jacob Lofland), whose father died in the accident. He was cruelly bullied by JT in school, and is struggling to keep his own secret.
The script is minimalistic, as Colangelo prefers to deepen the characters rather than construct a detailed plot. Sometimes this feels rather too understated, but it also allows the actors to create people who are remarkably involving. Holbrook is magnetic, the heart of the film as a damaged man looking for healing wherever he can find it. Banks is simply wonderful in a complex role that makes us wish she'd do more serious drama. And Lofland more than lives up to the promise of Mud with a darkly involving performance that continually catches us by surprise. These three characters circle around each other like wounded animals looking for help, but while the plot points that push them together might feel contrived, their interaction is earthy and very real.
Continue reading: Little Accidents Review
Although the plot isn't particularly original, a darkly internalised tone makes this low-key thriller oddly compelling. It may be the usual serial killer nastiness, but it also pays attention to earthier themes like morality and the futility of revenge. Meanwhile, Liam Neeson is able to combine his more recent action-hero persona with his serious acting chops this time. And writer-director Scott Frank infuses the film with moody grit, quietly subverting each cliche of the genre.
The action picks up eight years after Matt (Neeson) stopped drinking and quit the police force, following a shootout that went horribly wrong. It's now 1999, and New York is in the grip of Y2K paranoia. Matt is working as an unlicensed private detective who uses word-of-mouth to find clients. So Matt is intrigued when one of his 12-step friends (Boyd Holbrook) introduces his brother Kenny (Dan Stevens), a wealthy drug trafficker whose wife was kidnapped and then murdered even though he paid the ransom. As Matt digs into the case, he realises that the two killers (David Harbour and Adam David Thompson) have a left a string of similar victims in their wake, and that the murders are connected. Meanwhile, Matt takes in homeless teen TJ (Brian "Astro" Bradley), an observant kid who helps him work piece together the clues. And together they try to figure out where the killers will strike next.
This story unfolds with a remarkably gloomy tone, combining horrific violence with introspective drama. This mixture can feel rather jarring, especially as it wallows in the nastier side of human existence. Every character is tortured in more ways than one, with lost loves, physical afflictions and internal demons. Even the smaller side roles are packed with detail, including Olafur Darri Olafsson's creepy cemetery worker and Sebastian Roche's frazzled Russian mobster. All of this adds texture to the film, a welcome distraction from the grisly central plot, which is never played as a mystery, but rather as an inevitability.
Continue reading: A Walk Among The Tombstones Review
Nick Dunne finds himself at the fore of a police investigation when his wife Amy mysteriously goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. He has mixed emotions about the whole thing as he enlists volunteers to help find her; their marriage has been on the rocks after he lost his job and dragged Amy away from New York to open a new business. Their relationship was often volatile, further implicating his involvement in her disappearance. A part of him is not so worried about her; he knows how manipulative and deceitful she can be, but unfortunately his lack of visible devastation on TV goes solidly against him for those who are sure he's killed her. As it turns out, he's not so honest either and things come to a head when it turns out that every person in this story has a secret.
Continue: Gone Girl Trailer
Maggie and Milo are a twin brother and sister who have been living apart for ten years. Milo has been desperately trying to follow his Hollywood dream of stardom, while Maggie is struggling to keep hold of her marriage to Lance. The pair are reunited expectedly after both narrowly avoiding a fatal accident on exactly the same day, and Maggie offers Milo a place to stay. Their relationship is rocky at best, but it soon becomes clear that they need each other's guidance if they want to overcome their troubles; Maggie can't bring herself to tell Lance that she's not ready for the baby they've been trying to conceive, and Milo simply can't let go of a past heartbreak. Can these twins reconnect and fix each other, or is it too late to work things out?
Continue: The Skeleton Twins Trailer
Matt Scudder gave up his high-flying job with the NYPD after accidentally shooting dead a civilian while chasing away a group of criminals trying to rob the bar he was drinking in. Now working as an unlicensed private detective, this recovering alcoholic is enlisted by a man who wants Matt to find the kidnappers who took his ransom and murdered his wife. These kidnappers are no amateurs, however; they very meticulously choose their victims and it isn't long before they discover that Matt is looking for them. He may be used to taking down some pretty ruthless criminals, but he's never faced anything like this before and is constantly feeling as though he is one step behind his opposition. To nab criminals like these, he can't work within the law himself - but will that turn him into something he's tried so hard to avoid?
Continue: A Walk Among the Tombstones Trailer
Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...
The music scene of Austin, Texas becomes tainted by lust and illict desires as two...
In an almost fourth-wall-breaking episode, the latest installment of the Wolverine movie series acknowledges the...
Lee Weathers evaluates potential risks in businesses, businesses that blur the lines of what could...
With its grindingly low-key tension and unusual perspectives, this Western has a chance to revamp...
Jane Hammond has always been an independent woman, but living in the developing West is...
With a script by Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace), this thriller has more substance...
With a strikingly unflinching eye, newcomer Sara Colangelo astutely adapts her 2010 short into an...
Although the plot isn't particularly original, a darkly internalised tone makes this low-key thriller oddly...
Nick Dunne finds himself at the fore of a police investigation when his wife Amy...