John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal thriller, packed with thrills that find suspense in the characters and their predicament rather than pushy movie cliches. It's so sleek and involving that it's easy to ignore the nagging plot holes. We're too busy imagining what we might do in the same situations.
It opens in Marrakech, where poetry professor Perry (Ewan McGregor) and his lawyer wife Gail (Naomie Harris) have gone in an attempt to save their troubled marriage. One evening in a bar, Perry meets the boisterous Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), a Russian who openly admits that he launders money for the mafia. And he asks for Perry's help in delivering information to British intelligence in exchange for his family's safety. Back in London, Perry meets MI6 agent Hector (Damian Lewis), who sees this data as vital to bring down corrupt British politicians. But he has to go rogue to continue on the case, drafting Perry and Gail in to help. Soon they're travelling to France and Switzerland in a dangerous game that puts them in the crosshairs of both a Russian mafia boss (Grigoriy Dobrigyn) and a shifty British MP (Jeremy Northam).
The key point here is that Perry and Gail get involved because they are trying to help Dima's family. This makes everything that happens unusually down-to-earth, with a plot that hinges on the safety of a wife and children rather than the fate of the world. Actually, it's the state of the world that's the villain here, as corrupt Western politicians accept huge money to sidestep the rule of law. Screenwriter Hossein Amini is terrific at keeping the film's focus on the people rather than the plot machinery. And director Susanna White fills the screen with classy touches that are gorgeously shot and edited. The action sequences are unusually clever, avoiding cliches for something more deeply involving (a big shootout is particularly imaginative).
Continue reading: Our Kind Of Traitor Review
Almost forensic in its approach, this smart thriller explores a drone strike from a variety of perspectives that bring the moral dilemmas sharply into focus. This includes textured performances from seriously gifted actors who add layers of political, military, legal and emotional meaning to each moment along the way. So the film is continuously gripping, putting the audience right in the middle of the action.
The target is in a suburb of Nairobi, where three of the world's most wanted Somali jihadists are gathering to prepare two young suicide bombers for a mission. British Colonel Powell (Helen Mirren) is overseeing the operation from London, with her American drone pilots (Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox) working in Las Vegas. The hitch is that two of the targets are UK citizens, and one is American, which means that they also need to have government officials in on the discussion. So Lt General Benson (Alan Rickman) is watching with British government ministers (including Jeremy Northam and Monica Dolan). Meanwhile in Kenya, a local operative (Barkhad Abdi) is on the scene. But just as everyone agrees to fire the missile, a young girl (Aisha Takow) wanders into the danger zone.
What follows is a remarkably tense escalation of decision-making, as everyone passes the buck up the chain to avoid making the call themselves. Guy Hibbert's script orchestrates this skilfully, keeping the atmosphere taut while stirring generous doses of black comedy into the interaction between soldiers and politicians. This includes amusing scenes in which Britain's foreign secretary (Iain Glen) is dragged into the conversation while suffering food poisoning in Singapore. Yes, the film has a terrific sense of instant global connections, as its characters work together at a huge distance from each other and from the target of their operation.
Continue reading: Eye In The Sky Review
Professor (Perry) Makepiece and his partner Gail are enjoying an evening on in the bar whilst on holiday in Marrakech. A lavish gentleman also in the bar catches Perry's eye and the man eventually walks over and asks the couple to join them for a drink. Accepting the offer, the two are taken in by the man and his excessive spending. The man, Dima, has a foreign accent and extends an invitation to the couple for them to join Dima and his friends for a party at his villa.
Accepting the offer, Perry and Gail arrive at Dima's house to find it's not the small gathering they were expecting. Taken in by Dima's friendly persona, Perry and Dima talk and Dima eventually reveals his motives to Perry for inviting the Brit over. Dima wants Perry to take a USB to MI6 with a message - Dima explains that he's actually a money launderer for the Russian mob and wishes for asylum for him and his family in exchange for information on the highest ranking members of the Russian mob and their international affiliates.
Perry must weigh up all the risks involved and decide just how much he's willing to risk in order to help Dima.
Drones are now one of the most effective weapons the military have when fighting in battle. Their surveillance abilities are incredibly high quality and make it much easier to find and target individuals who are wanted.
Colonel Katherine Powell has been given a mission to go and find and capture an ex-British citizen who's become an extremist and is meeting with some of the men on the most wanted list. Having been previously connected to a series of suicide bombings, the Colonel tracks down the woman (currently going under the new Ayesha Al-Hady) and makes contact with her superiors to let them know her progress.
Using a multitude of surveillance equipment, Powell soon becomes privy to the terrorists next plans, she discovers that the bombers are planning another imminent attack. Placed in an impossible situation, Powell and her bosses must decide how to complete the mission without the loss of civilian life.
Anne (Garai) is the adopted eldest daughter of powerful politician Alexander Keyes (Nighy) and his wife (Agutter), who went on to have two of their own children (Redmayne and Temple). It's the glorious summer of 1939, when Britain felt like it had averted conflict with Hitler, so when Anne stumbles on hints of a government conspiracy, she turns to a fellow actor (Bonneville) and her boyfriend (Cox) for help. But the mystery only deepens, compounded by a sinister Home Office official (Northam) and the distracting presence of her Aunt Elizabeth (Christie).
Continue reading: Glorious 39 Review
The Victorians were well known for keeping a stiff upper lip about everything, and their romance was absolutely no exception. Their entire world was constructed around subtlety, and, in tune with that, the one word that can be used to describe An Ideal Husband is subtle.
Continue reading: An Ideal Husband Review
While it might make a charming book-on-tape for the Oprah crowd, this "love loves to love love" hokum masquerades as a real movie. The present day academics exist in counterpoint to the period movie flashbacks (basically Jeremy Northam donning his suit again and looking forlorn, intercut with shots of his beautiful mistress Jennifer Ehle looking voluptuous and forlorn). And they talk, talk, talk about subtext within the letters; but they're actually talking about each other. Yes, it's When Harry Met Sally in the Library. So help me God, Eckhart's emotional revelation is when he asks Paltrow, "Is there an Us in You and Me?" (If I were Paltrow, I'd say, "I'll call you.")
Continue reading: Possession Review
An ostensible Nazi-hunting thriller that's far too impressed with its supposed moral ambiguity, The Statement is about former Vichy militia Pierre Brossard (Michael Caine) who, back in 1944, helped the Nazis round up and execute seven Jews in a small French town. It's based on the true story of Paul Touvier, who ordered such an execution on June 29, 1944 in southwestern France, and was sentenced to life in prison in 1995.
Continue reading: The Statement Review
The same issue plagues Enigma, based on Robert Harris' best selling novel. There are so many details about how military codes are broken, the equipment that's needed, and so on that background information overwhelms the movie's plot of intrigue. And that's a pretty hefty accomplishment, considering the talent involved.
Continue reading: Enigma Review
Date of birth
1st December, 1961
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