The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed for the true life adventures Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, both films that spent too much time glorifying rah-rah heroism to properly tell their stories. But this dramatic thriller, which recounts the events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, is a startlingly visceral experience, allowing for a lot more humanity in the characters. Which actually makes them feel both more honest and more heroic.
Wahlberg plays Tommy, a street cop who feels like no one notices that he's rather good at his job. When two brothers (Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze) explode bombs at the marathon's finish line, Tommy leaps in to help the injured. And due to his local knowledge, he also helps advise FBI investigator Richard (Kevin Bacon), who is working with the local police commissioner (John Goodman). As the frantic manhunt for the bombers extends over the following days, Tommy's wife (Michelle Monaghan) tries to get him to rest, but he pushes on. And with the whole city helping the cops, the brothers are eventually chased into the neighbourhood of beat cop Jeffrey (J.K. Simmons) for an intense showdown.
This film manages to get the balance right between gritty action and inspiring heroics. Berg mixes documentary footage in seamlessly, grounding everything in reality, and he lets the actors draw out the flaws in these real-life people. This makes them much easier to identify with, which in turn makes the action sequences that much more involving. There's a shootout in here that is perhaps one of the most outrageous ones ever put on film, even more remarkable because it's true. And while Wahlberg is the only character who gets some proper depth, he plays Tommy beautifully, bouncing off everyone else in ways that add meaning and energy to the film.
Continue reading: Patriots Day Review
Bodi is a Tibetan Mastiff who's tired of his life on Snow Mountain where his job is to guard sheep from a prowling wolf named Linnux and his friends. It may sound scary work, but little is more scary than Bodi's authoritarian father Khampa who is literally top dog and has a strict rule against anything that may be distracting to the work - including music. However, one day while Bodi is out manning the fort, he discovers a radio that has fallen from a aircraft. Curiosity gets the better of him and he checks it out, and it only takes a few seconds of rock music for him to realise that it's his dream to become a rock 'n' roll star. He decides to leave his home and venture to the city where he teams up with a legendary musician named Angus Scattergood who wants him to help him write a new song. Unfortunately, Linnux is still on the prowl and Bodi finds himself having to choose between his family and his passion.
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After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something even better: an original movie musical that is shamelessly enjoyable. It somehow manages to be a feel-good triumph as well as a darkly honest exploration of the quest for fame and romance in Los Angeles. And with fantastic songs, colourful choreography and already iconic performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, this is pure cinematic joy.
It opens in a traffic jam on a warm winter's day, where aspiring actress Mia (Stone) first encounters struggling jazz musician Sebastian (Gosling). They meet a couple more times before they begin to share the troubles they are facing trying to make their dreams come true. As romance blossoms, Mia urges Sebastian to go for his passion project to create a proper jazz bar, while Sebastian supports Mia's attempt to write a one-woman show to display her talents. But there are huge pressures to endure and obstacles to overcome as this city pushes them to compromise.
Chazelle establishes the film's musical tone from the opening moment, a breathtaking single-take full-on musical number on a freeway flyover. And the movie only gets better from there, deepening the two central characters as every scene is packed with hilarious comedy, honest romance and wrenching drama. Gosling and especially Stone are perfect in these roles, drawing on their already established chemistry as they add singing and dancing to their repertoires.
Continue reading: La La Land Review
A bunch of US Navy SEALs get into some serious trouble from their boss (JK Simmons) after an operation in Sarajevo in 1995 during the Bosnian War goes badly wrong. But it's nothing to the kind of trouble they can expect if they get caught during a renegade operation they are planning to unearth Nazi gold stolen from the French fifty years ago from a Bosnian lake. Back in World War II, a Bosnian village was flooded when the nearby dam was bombed, taking the group of Nazis and their gold with it. Now these five guys want a share in the equity and decide to take the plunge to find the gold bars, while trying to avoid being spotted by enemy soldiers on the land. There's more than just $300 million dollars worth of treasure at stake here; they'll be lucky to escape with their lives.
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While this slick dramatic thriller plays with some intriguing ideas and themes, it never actually breaks the surface, relying on silly plotting and simplistic moralising. It also uses autism as little more than a plot point. Still, it's sharply shot and edited to create plenty of interest, with comical asides and some intense action. So it's entertaining even if it's both preposterous and shallow.
It centres on Christian (Ben Affleck), a mild-mannered autistic accountant with a big secret: he's not only cooking the books for top gangsters around the world, but he's also an efficient killer. In his day job, he's hired by Lamar (John Lithgow) and his sister Rita (Smart) to locate an anomaly in their robotics company's books. Working with company accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick), Christian crunches the numbers and finds more than anyone expected. Meanwhile, Federal Agent Ray (J.K. Simmons) wants catch this mythical mob accountant-killer before he retires, so he coerces analyst Marybeth (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) into tracking him down. But just as they close in on Christian, so does hyperactive hitman Brax (Jon Bernthal).
The script by Bill Dubuque (The Judge) never even remotely holds water. Christian's autism provides some intriguing flashbacks, which build throughout the movie to a climactic moment, as his militaristic father cruelly treats his condition by sending him to Karate Kid-style training in Indonesia with his silently annoyed little brother. Where a real autistic child would revert into the horror of all of that, Christian emerges as adeptly skilled at engaging with everyone he meets and also able to fight more efficiently than experienced military commandos, whom he kills by the dozen as Brax and his army surround him. No, it makes absolutely no sense, but as a movie it's a rather amusing waste of time.
Continue reading: The Accountant Review
Peter and Kyle Reynolds have always been close brothers, not only are they twins but a family loss at a young age also made them closer. The man are now grown up now and their mother (Helen) is about to re-marry. Her two sons travel to her wedding and she decides to tell her boys the truth behind what happened to their father.
From a young age Peter and Kyle have both believed that they lost their father to colon cancer and as such, Peter even formed his career around his father's illness as a way of dedication to his memory. What their mother tells them takes them both by surprise; she doesn't actually know who their dad is, he could be one of many people that she had a relationship with.
The brothers set off on a mission to find out who their dad really is, there's a famous sport star and a tattooed hothead (who Kyle feels is quite similar to Peter) both of whom might tell the brothers more information about their mom than they ever need to know.
This animated trilogy concludes on a very high note with this smart, involving and often hilarious adventure. Both the writing and the animation are especially strong this time around, drawing in bigger themes while still keeping things both thrilling and very silly. But it's the endearing central characters who make it resonate.
As the Dragon Warrior, the panda Po (voiced by Jack Black) is struggling to rise to the challenge to become a teacher, coaxed by his master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman). He'd rather be out fighting battles with his five warrior pals Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross). Then he meets his long-lost father Li (Bryan Cranston), who tells him of a secret homeland for pandas, where Po might be able to find himself. Meanwhile, the power-mad warlord Kai (J.K. Simmons) has broken through from the spirit realm, determined to collect the chi of every master in the mortal world. So it's rather urgent that Po discovers his own chi before Kai finds him.
This is far more than the usual story about discovering your place in life. It's a complex exploration of how our backgrounds and communities contribute to who we are, and why each of us has a distinct role to play. These themes emerge naturally through the snappy, sometimes exhilarating story and characters. In voicing Po, Black finds the perfect balance between goofiness and honest emotion that often eludes him in live-action roles. His interaction with all of the surrounding characters bristles with humour and insight, with sharply funny one-liners peppering every scene. Most of the side roles are spread very thinly, but both Cranston and Simmons register strongly, while Jolie and Hoffman get some solid scenes all their own. And Hudson's riotously flirtatious ribbon-dancing panda easily steals her scenes.
Continue reading: Kung Fu Panda 3 Review
J.K. Simmons , Michelle Schumacher - 15th Annual Gala 'Carnivale of Play' - Shane's Inspiration at The Globe Theater in Universal Studios Hollywood - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 5th March 2016
JK Simmons - 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards held at Santa Monica Beach - Outside Arrivals at Santa Monica, Independent Spirit Awards - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 27th February 2016
Po and The Furious Five return in Kung Fu Panda 3! Po might now be the undisputed Dragon Warrior but his mission of self-growth and protection for the citizens of the Valley of Peace. Taking advice from the person he trusts most, Master Shifu Po discovers that his real journey is just beginning as he must transition from warrior to teacher.
After finding his birth father, Li, Po finally feels he belongs to someone. Po's stepdad, Mr Ping on the other hand isn't so convinced that this new panda is a relative at all! The Panda's travel to a secret panda village where Po, for the first time, is surrounded by Bears - most clumsy - just like him.
When a supernatural beast named Kai comes to their region, he threatens to put the lives a of some of the animals Po loves most in danger. To survive the attack by Kai, Po must train his new family and teach them how to fight for themselves - after all, surely they all have some of the Dragon Warrior in them?
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Jimmy Price knows his days as a doubles tennis player are nearly over, and since he's made a few enemies on the pro circuit, things start to look bleak when his latest partner drops him. With no other option, Jimmy tries to revive his career by convincing his estranged brother (and former tennis partner) Darren to give their partnership another shot. With the help of an 11-year-old named Barry, the duo enter a grand slam tournament, but are they out of their depth?
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This declining franchise really needed a jolt to the head, but the producers disappointingly opt to play it safe with an unambitious script and child-friendly action. After the OK part 3 (2003's Rise of the Machines) and a weak part 4 (2009's Salvation), this film is unlikely to win new fans or keep the old ones hoping for more. Even though it's made to a high technical standard, the movie feels derivative and safe, avoiding any properly dangerous tension for a series of badly contrived action set-pieces.
It opens in 2029, as plucky rebel John Connor (Jason Clarke) is fighting the world-dominating Skynet machines with the help of his right-hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney). When Skynet sends a Terminator (the young Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 Los Angeles to kill John's mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke), Kyle follows to rescue her. But he arrives to find the timeline already altered. Sarah had been attacked years earlier, rescued at age 9 and raised by an ageing Terminator she calls Pop (the present-day Arnie). Since everything has changed, Sarah and Kyle decide to jump forward to 2017 San Francisco so they can stop Skynet from taking over the planet with its Genisys operating system. But when they arrive, they realise that there's been even more jiggery-pokery in the timeline.
The way the film wraps in and around the 1984 original is clever, with added intrigue in the fact that Kyle and Sarah haven't yet fallen for each other and conceived John. So when he turns up in San Francisco, there are all sorts of mind-bending possibilities. Alas, the screenwriters can't be bothered to play with them. Instead they structure the film as a series of rambling expository conversations leading to yet another pointless flurry of explosive carnage. Honestly, if Terminators are literally indestructible, why bother trying to defeat them with guns? And yet everyone keeps shooting at them, just making them mad.
Continue reading: Terminator Genisys Review
Date of birth
9th January, 1955
The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...
After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...
While this slick dramatic thriller plays with some intriguing ideas and themes, it never actually...
Peter and Kyle Reynolds have always been close brothers, not only are they twins but...
Marnie Minervini recently lost her husband. The couple were very much in love and did...
The filmmakers behind Tangled and Wreck-it Ralph join forces for this entertaining animated action comedy,...