It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off the character before the 2005 sequel. Both films were pretty terrible, mindless action connected by the thinnest imaginable plots. And this franchise relaunch is just as random, with a nonsensical thriller storyline that exists merely to string together a sequence of explosive stunt trickery. Thankfully, this time the cast and crew make it clear that they know how preposterous this is.
No, Xander (Diesel) isn't dead. He's whizzing around the jungles of the Dominican Republic, wooing sweaty, scantily clad babes and keeping the locals cheering at his exploits. Then CIA black ops director Marke (Toni Collette) appears to draft him back into the XXX programme, because she needs to recapture a gadget terrorists are using to drop satellites from orbit onto carefully chosen targets. OK, sure. X assembles a team of his old pals (actually newcomers, played by Kris Wu, Ruby Rose and Rory McCann), plus a hot computer geek (Nina Dobrev), and chases down the team of equally extreme baddies (Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone, Tony Jaa and Michael Bisping). And as they head to London, the Philippines and Detroit, everyone realises that there's something else going on here.
There probably isn't a law of physics that isn't broken in this movie. These characters fly, are shot, fall from great heights and are blown to smithereens, but emerge unscathed, apart from their excessive tattoos (Xander has somehow redesigned his logo neck art for the reboot). Refreshingly, everyone keeps their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks, winking at the camera at each ridiculous moment. Such as the chase in which motorcycles magically transform into water-bikes. Or when Xander does a spot of Alpine skiing through a rainforest. Or the frankly jaw-dropping weightless fight scene in a power-diving airplane.
Continue reading: XXx: Return Of Xander Cage Review
First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on a true story, he avoids the usual cliches and formulas, which makes it an unusually thoughtful film. On the other hand, this means that it lacks the excitement we expect as events spiral into some extremely stressful situations. Instead, the film relies on underlying tension, strong thematic resonance and another committed performance from Daniel Radcliffe.
Radcliffe plays Nate, an FBI agent who is a bit of a loner, teased by his colleagues for his nerdy lifestyle. But this is what his superior Angela (Toni Collette) notices about him, and she thinks he'd be perfect for an undercover assignment infiltrating a neo-Nazi group that might be planning a horrific terrorist bombing. So Nate shaves his head and studies up on the white supremacist cause, befriending a racist skinhead (Seth Numrich) and his trigger-happy pals, then meeting their leaders Gerry and Andrew (Sam Trammell and Chris Sullivan). Nate's main target is the underground radio broadcaster Dallas (Tracy Letts), who is stirring up his listeners by channelling bigotry into conspiracy theories. Is he the one planning to explode a dirty bomb somewhere in Washington DC?
The film has a dark, gritty tone that remains internalised all the way through, focussing on Nate's perilous job: if he betrays his true feelings about these reprehensible white-power ideals, it's more than likely that these men will kill him. Radcliffe is excellent in the role, quietly convincing these thugs that he's committed to the cause while still maintaining his friendly, helpful personality. Since there are no women in the movement, it's great to have Collette in such a pivotal, powerful role. Angela is a feisty blast of energy in the film. And Letts is also remarkable as a man whose complexity deepens the more we get to know him. In many ways he's the true villain of the piece, encouraging hatred among his vulnerable audience.
Continue reading: Imperium Review
Xander Cage has led quite a life, he's been an extreme sports celebrity with his own TV show, worked as an undercover spy for the National Security Agency and saved the world from a deadly toxin being released. Xander wasn't exactly the most obvious person to become a spy as his celebrity status made him know around the world but his arrogance and known run-ins with the cops are will publicised.
He was recruited by NSA Agent Augustus Gibbons who saw potential in the daredevil. To test his skills, Gibbon's dropped Cage into a number of life threatening situations including an armed robbery and an escape from a cocaine plantation run by violent cartel bosses. Having successfully completed his tests, Xander found himself face to face with a Russia mobster who was planning to release toxic matter which is capable of killing millions. His mission was a success and he also found love with a Russian FSB agent called Yelena. Realising that the life of a spy isn't all it's cut out to be, the pair retire to Bora Bora.
Years later a crooked agent called Cobb is thought to have assassinated Cage leading to Gibbon's to find a new XXX agent - a title that only seems temporary for its holders.
Continue: xXx: Return of Xander Cage Trailer
Blinky Bill has always considered himself an explorer, the kind of Koala that's willing to put everything on the line to take the next adventure. Some might say he got his wild streak from his father who left home to go and find The Sea of White Dragons. Everyone in Blinky's home town of Green Patch say that Blinky's father is no longer alive but Blinky is convinced that his dad IS alive and a recently uncovered clue could just be the thing that leads Blinky to his father.
Setting out on his Outback adventure, Blinky is joined by two friends, a Koala from a zoo called Nutsy and a frilled lizard called Jacko who's happy to exclaim 'I'm Jacko who can track-o' and also likes to think that his frilled neck helps hone is radar skills. As much fun as the trio have together, they're also being chased by some nasty feral cats who want to ruin their adventure.
Blinky Bill The Movie is based on the 1933 childrens books by Dorothy Wall.
The latter would've done anything for the role, and the former can't wait to show it to her kids.
In Catherine Hardwicke's new film Miss You Already, Toni Collette plays a lively woman who is diagnosed with breast cancer just as her lifelong best friend, played by Drew Barrymore, is starting infertility treatment. But this certainly isn't the usual chick flick, which is what drew Collette to the role.
Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette are firm friends after epic drama 'Miss You Already'
"When I read the script, it's so clever and witty that I got lost in it. It's almost like I had no choice," she says. "It just spoke to me in ways that I really couldn't understand at the time. I loved that it seamlessly moved between moments that were very poignant, moments that were very deeply moving and those that were hysterically funny and had me screaming with laughter. It represents the way we really exist in the world. And I loved that my character was kind of spiky - she deflects any kind of sympathy."
Continue reading: Miss You Already Bonded Drew Barrymore And Toni Collette For Life
This may be a drama about breast cancer, but it's astutely written and played with a jagged sense of humour that makes it thoroughly entertaining. Anchored by energetic, emotionally resonant performances from Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette, the film is also a sharp depiction of lifelong friends who travel through some enormous events together. And by keeping everything so funny and honest, it's even more moving than expected.
Jess and Milly (Barrymore and Collette) have grown up together in London, outsiders who always had each others' backs. Their respective spouses Jago and Kit (Paddy Considine and Dominic Cooper) have become part of their extended family, as are Milly's two sparky kids (Honor Kneafsey and Ryan Lennon Baker) and Milly's diva mum (Jacqueline Bisset). Jess has never been able to get pregnant, so she and Jago are undergoing fertility treatment. And just as Jess finds out that she's pregnant, Milly is diagnosed with cancer. Both are understandably nervous about sharing their news. Then things get even more strained when Milly's relationship with Kit falters, and she starts flirting shamelessly with a local barman (Tyson Ritter).
Morwenna Banks' screenplay may have a fairly standard structure, but its details are fresh and unusually balanced, cleverly deepening the characters and never letting the movie fall into sentimental sappiness. Indeed, as the emotions get more intense, the interaction gets edgier and the jokes dirtier. Both Barrymore and Collette shine in their roles. With the showier, more wrenching character, Collette brings a raucous feistiness that's utterly infectious, even when Milly does something she knows is wrong. She is certainly not a cancer "victim"! And Barrymore digs much deeper than usual as Jess, deploying her impeccable comic timing to draw out the character's inner yearnings. Opposite them, both Considine and Cooper are excellent in roles that are more textured than the usual long-suffering husbands.
Continue reading: Miss You Already Review
For a lot of kids, the Christmas holidays is their favourite time of year, all the family is together, Christmas day usually brings gifts from Santa and the thought of time off school all amount to smiles in most homes. Max's family is one of those who've got together for the holidays and you'd think that he'd be a happy boy, but when he has a change of heart about the Christmas period, he accidentally evokes the wrath of an ancient force who punishes ungrateful people over the Christmas period - the complete opposite to that of the children loving, gift giving, Saint Nicholas.
Max and his family must team together to find a way to survive the Christmas period without Krampus and his little helpers destroying their entire family.
You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, I'm telling you why: Krampus is coming to town.
Milly has rather a modest life as a community gardener, living on a boat in London with her long term boyfriend Jago with whom she is trying for a baby. And while her relationship with Jago is at its peak, Milly's real soulmate is in her best friend Jess; a rather more outspoken woman with a booming career, husband and two children, and who has been by Milly's side since they were very small children. They have always been there for each other despite how different they are, but their friendship is about to be tested for the first time when Jess is suddenly diagnosed with breast cancer. Now with mortality threatening to break the duo apart, they must find a way to keep on smiling even when things get even harder with Jess' treatment, and the stress that comes with having a potentially terminal illness.
Continue: Miss You Already Trailer
Even the lighter moments in this dark Irish drama are tinged with sadness, including a scene in which a tormented mother and son escape through dancing together ... to the strains of Soft Cell's Tainted Love. But the film is anchored by such a solid performance by Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction) that it's definitely worth a look.
Reynor plays John, a young guy in Dublin working extra shifts as a cab driver to support his alcoholic mother Jean (Toni Collette) and his younger brother Kit (Harry Nagle), who has been institutionalised with Down's Syndrome and is never visited by his mum, not even on his 18th birthday. But then she's too busy drinking herself into serious illness. John's only support comes from his best pal Sean (Will Poulter), who has problems of his own as his ex (Maria Carlton) is demanding cash to support their young child. When Sean opts to move abroad to find work, John decides to get his mother into rehab, consulting a counsellor (Michael Smiley) who tells him that she will require a lot more than the one week the state can provide.
Things take a bizarre turn from here that isn't very clearly defined, but then writer-director Gerard Barrett isn't interested in explaining all of the details, mainly because he's telling the story from John's frazzled perspective. John lives through all of this a moment at a time, so the past is irrelevant, he seeks brief moments of joy wherever he can find them, and he just gets on with the job at hand, however freaky it may be. Through all of this, Barrett keeps things intense and unsettling, never quite letting the audience get its balance. This bold approach makes us feel almost as overwhelmed as John does.
Continue reading: Glassland Review
Rich Cline looks back over 2014 and shares some of the biggest let downs of the year.
Most of these movies feature actors, actresses and filmmakers who really should know better...
10) Dumb And Dumber To - After 20 years we had finally forgotten the resolutely unfunny first movie. And now they're back. Sadly, they haven't learned anything about comedy in the interim. Watch the trailer for Dumb and Dumber To here.
Continue reading: Contactmusic.com's 10 Worst Films Of 2014
Date of birth
1st November, 1972
It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...
First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...
Xander Cage has led quite a life, he's been an extreme sports celebrity with his...
Blinky Bill has always considered himself an explorer, the kind of Koala that's willing to...
Nate Foster is a young FBI agent who's selected to go undercover and infiltrate a...
Based on ancient mythology, this Christmas horror movie has a gleefully nasty attitude that makes...
This may be a drama about breast cancer, but it's astutely written and played with...
Milly has rather a modest life as a community gardener, living on a boat in...
Even the lighter moments in this dark Irish drama are tinged with sadness, including a...
A triumph on a variety of levels, this staggeringly detailed stop-motion animation has a wonderfully...
With an approach so saccharine that it makes Eat Pray Love look like an edgy...
Melissa McCarthy is clearly in a rut: the title character in this film isn't very...