Jennifer Preston is a journalist hoping to get to the bottom of a tragic explosion that occurred in a nightclub on New Year's Eve a month previously; a disaster that killed over 230 people and caused toxic waste from an underground weapons facility to spread five square miles into the city. A large portion of the city is now under strict quarantine; no-one is allowed in or out. The only problem is, a strange phenomenon has taken a hold of those within the quarantine zone spreading horror and violence throughout. Preston and her bereaved detective friend Levis Mathis are determined to discover the root of the explosion, especially since the latter lost his daughter to the blast, but the authorities aren't prepared to help them. And time is running out as they begin to find themselves affected by the dark happenings.
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When a woman (Reid) wakes up on a beach, she's not sure what happened to her or who she is. As her memories start trickling back, she remembers being involved in a corporate spying case in London, working for one man (Shaw) while keeping an eye on her boyfriend (MacAninch). But none of this is quite adding up, and she'll need more clarity to remember the whole story. But first, she's got to get away from this stranger (Draven) who's chasing her.
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Beyond the fact that the whole coal-miner's-kid-has-talent-and-big-dreams genre has been horrifically overdone from the earliest days of English-language narrative, Billy Elliot (aka Dancer) is actually a treat to watch. Maybe it's just the funny accents, but the dialog comes off fresh and surprising, even when it's just Billy's dad (played by Gary Lewis) saying some stock like, "No son of mine is going to be dancing ballet." In fact, Lewis conveys an intense fury through his role as the apparently ignorant father, while maintaining a sense of depth and dimension that is, at times, endearing.
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The backdrop for "Billy Elliot" is familiar: A haggard blue-collar English community, struggling under the conservative, anti-labor regime of Margaret Thatcher. We've seen variations on this theme in "Among Giants," "Brassed Off," "The Full Monty" and "The Van."
The time period is specific -- it's 1984 and the coal workers are on strike -- although such details won't mean much to audiences outside Britain.
But the characters and their drives and dreams are utterly unique in this non-pandering feel-good film that features such strong performances and original circumstances that even the most stalwart cynic will likely succumb to its charismatic charm.
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