War is changing. The days of pilots getting involved in a conflict are gone, and now they have all but been replaced by drones which they pilot remotely. Major Thomas Egan (Ethan Hawke) is a trained pilot who joined the army in order to fly. He is aiming his drone at a known terrorist hideout, when he is given the confirmation to fire. As the missile is fired, a child who is playing gets into the way of the missile - too late for the shot to be aborted. Egan knows what he has done, and despite completing the mission, he believes he has failed. From that point on, he will be haunted by the thought of the "good kill".
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Matthew is a typical loving father who takes a day trip with his young daughter Cassandra in his truck, stopping off at a roadside diner along the way to pick up pie for lunch. He's only gone a few minutes but by the time he returns to his vehicle he discovers that Cass is gone. She's nowhere to be found, and to make matters worse, when he reports her disappearance as an abduction to the police he is the first suspect in the case. The incident puts a deep strain on his marriage to her mother Tina, who doesn't know whether to blame him for letting her out of his sight or suspect his involvement herself. Some years later, they are still searching, but when detectives Nicole and Jeffrey find new leads, Matthew becomes determined to find out exactly where his daughter is being held.
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Based on the events documented in West of Memphis and the Paradise Lost trilogy, this drama takes an almost clinical approach to the story. By filling in so many details and covering so many perspectives, skilled Canadian director Atom Egoyan sometimes loses the emotional connection, simply because there are too many punches to the gut. But it's utterly riveting.
The events took place in 1993 in rural West Memphis, Arkansas. After three 8-year-old boys go missing, suspicion immediately falls on four goth 16-year-olds: Chris (Dane DeHaan) has just left town, but the fiercely charismatic Damien (James Hamrick), hapless Jason (Seth Meriwether) and mentally disabled Jesse (Kristopher Higgens) are arrested and charged with murder. The victims' parents (including Reese Witherspoon, Alessandro Nivola and Kevin Durand) band together in outrage. But private investigator Ron (Colin Firth) thinks the police have wrongly accused these teens of being killers.
The story is a shocking account of a miscarriage of justice, as the community turns on kids who simply look a bit funny and the police and judicial authorities refuse to admit that they may have made some serious mistakes. The rush to judgement is terrifying, accompanied with explanations that falsely link the teens to satanic rituals and death-metal music. Egoyan cleverly builds a sense of outrage from the start, as the film mourns not only the young boys' death but also the horror of carelessly ruining three innocent teens' lives in response.
Continue reading: Devil's Knot Review
Devil's Knot is a biographical thriller drama based on the events of the West Memphis Three case directed by Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Chloe) and written by Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose).
Devil's Knot tells the chilling story of three young boys, Stevie Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore, going missing in the town of West Memphis, Arkansas. When the bodies are found beaten and murdered, the police and religious people of the town put the blame to a group of teenagers they believed to be Satanists, due to the dark nature of their appearance. After police investigation, three young adults, Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr., are arrested for suspicion of the crime. These three youths claim to be innocent of the murders, but the citizens of the town want justice for the murdered children and the punishment of the teenagers, innocent or not, seems to be their best answer.
The film will star academy award winner Reese Witherspoon portraying Stevie Branch's distraught mother, Michelle Enos (World War Z, Gangster Squad) as Vicki Hutcheson who was key in the arrest of the teenagers, Academy Award winner Colin Firth as private investigator Ron Lax and Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider Man 2, The Place Beyond the Pines) as Chris Morgan, who was a suspect in the murder case.
This remake strips away everything that made the 1981 Brooke Shields romance so scandalous. Re-designed for 12-year-old girls, this version of Scott Spencer's novel plays like a dreamy Nicholas Sparks-style fantasy. There's no sense of urgency or danger, and not a single whiff of actual love, despite a lot of heaving sighs and longing glances. Everything on-screen feels like a predictable cliche yearning to pull our heartstrings, but these tricks only work on young teens who haven't seen many movies.
The story centres on good-guy David (Pettyfer), raised by his working-class single dad (Patrick). At his high school graduation, David finally gets up the nerve to talk to the class wallflower, beautiful rich girl Jade (Wilde), who is still grieving over the death of her big brother. There's a spark between them, but Jade's harsh dad (Greenwood) dismisses David as unworthy, then sets out to crush their blossoming romance. Jade's mother (Richardson) and brother (Wakefield) are more supportive, but Dad is so determined to get David out of Jade's life that he inadvertently pushes them even closer together. Surely a happy ending is out of the question.
Only of course it isn't, because we can see that this film doesn't have the nerve to get very dark. Filmmaker Feste only toys around with the nasty side of the story. She can't even let Greenwood play a properly conflicted man; he's essentially bipolar, veering wildly from understanding to maniacal in his reaction to the relentlessly lovely David. Pettyfer's one-note performance merely reminds us of Channing Tatum, but at least he registers on-screen, unlike the vaguely beautiful Wilde. The only performers allowed any complexity are Richardson and Patrick.
Continue reading: Endless Love Review