With the tagline "A Star Wars Story", this first spin-off from the saga isn't actually a stand-alone movie. It requires some understanding of the context as it chronicles events that lead directly into 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope. It's also a seriously rousing action film with a riveting cast of characters and a surprising willingness to embrace even the darkest elements of storytelling. In other words, it might be the first Star Wars movie made specifically for grown-ups.
It opens as the Empire is systematically crushing the rebellion, leaving them wondering if there's any point to continuing the fight. Rumours are swirling that the Empire is building a massive Death Star, and rebel Jyn (Felicity Jones) discovers that it was designed by her long-lost father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen), who sends her a message saying that he left a flaw in the system specifically for the rebels to exploit. So she joins a team to contact him, led by Cassian (Diego Luna), who doubts that Galen is on their side. They're accompanied by pilot Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and the sarcastic robot K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), plus the blind wannabe Jedi Chirrut (Donnie Yen) and his battling sidekick Baze (Jiang Wen). And as their mission goes rogue, they come up against the slimy Imperial Director Orson (Ben Mendelson) and the vicious Darth Vader (again voiced by James Earl Jones).
Director Gareth Edwards (Monster) packs the movie with visual references to A New Hope, cleverly matching the design work by avoiding fakey digital effects in lieu of more practical, battle-scared models and lively settings on a series of new planets and a familiar one. This gives the film an electric atmosphere that's edgy and unpredictable even though we all know exactly how this mission has to end. At the beginning, the plot feels a bit splintered, but the strands come together with power, building a gnawing sense of momentum and some real gravitas along the way.
Continue reading: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review
A gently comical undertone makes this thriller even creepier than expected, bolstered by sharp writing and directing from Dan Giloy and an especially clever performance from Jake Gyllenhaal. Comparisons to Taxi Driver have been obvious, as the lead character is a potentially dangerous sociopath on a very personal quest. And the film also taps into the current zeitgeist: how the media panders to a public that increasingly screams for blood. It's a thoroughly unnerving film that often feels more like a very grim satire than a proper thriller.
Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a loner who is desperate to make his mark on the world. Searching for something to do, he stumbles across the people who prowl the city streets after dark in search of an event they can film and sell on to a TV news outlet. Learning from a veteran (Bill Paxton), Lou gets his own camera and a police scanner and starts chasing car crashes, house fires and violent crimes all over Los Angeles. And when he finds that TV news director Nina (Rene Russo) wants to buy his footage, he hires Rick (Riz Ahmed) as an assistant, getting even more aggressive about arriving on the scene before the competition. But Lou isn't willing to settle for that, and starts manipulating the news to get even better stories.
Where this goes from here is pretty unimaginable, as Lou reveals himself to be utterly unencumbered by any hint of a moral compass. Of course, this is a central theme of the movie, as it explores the way audiences clamour for more explosive footage, which pretty much eliminates any sense of human decency in the way events are covered. Gyllenhaal portrays Lou as gaunt and hungry, but with an eerie charm that lets him get away with each audacious manoeuvre. Watching him snap at anyone who crosses him is truly terrifying. Although the way he quietly manipulates situations is even scarier.
Continue reading: Nightcrawler Review
'Nightcrawler' premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on Saturday (6th September) and its star Jake Gyllenhaal has been praised by critics for his depiction of a desperate and immoral crime scene journalist.
Jake Gyllenhaal's performance in Nightcrawler has been highly praised by critics ahead of the film's US and UK release.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.
Continue reading: Jake Gyllenhaal Receives High Praise For 'Nightcrawler'
Genetically altered government agent Aaron Cross (Renner) is part of Outcome, a parallel programme to Treadstone, which created Jason Bourne. Since Bourne's antics have lifted the lid on Treadstone, Outcome director Eric (Norton) decides to terminate his programme by brutally killing everyone involved. But Aaron slips through the net, as does geneticist Marta (Weisz), whom Aaron needs for the meds that keep him going. As Eric's team hunts them down, they head to Manila to find a solution.
Continue reading: The Bourne Legacy Review
The CIA is confronted with the consequences of previous events that have taken place involving Jason Bourne. They decide that they must shut down Operation Outcome (the subsequent operation to Operation Treadstone) which will involve the assassination of Outcome agent Aaron Cross and Doctor Stephanie Snyder who helped produce the agents. They must find an escape or be killed.
Continue: The Bourne Legacy Trailer
When the research assistant to brash young House member Stephen Collins (Affleck) dies in a mysterious accident, the press has a field day with the politician's possible adultery. Naturally, the Washington Globe and its crack staff, including reporter Cal McCaffrey (Crowe), blogger Della Frye (Rachel McAdams), and editor Cameron Lynne (Mirren), are exploring every angle. But there's a catch. You see, McCaffrey and Collins were college roommates, and they've maintained a strong friendship ever since. They've even shared the affections of the Congressman's current wife Anne (Robin Wright Penn).
Continue reading: State Of Play Review
The film starts with a quick meet-cute at an American consulate 4th of July barbecue in Dubai, where MI-6 agent Ray Koval (Clive Owen) is flirting with Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts). He doesn't figure out that she's a CIA agent until much later, long after she absconded from his room with a parcel of secret documents and he has woken up from the drugs she knocked him out with. Years later, the two are thrown together again when Koval takes a private security job with Equikrom -- a Unilver-like corporate giant that produces everything from shampoo to diapers -- only to find Stenwick already in place as a deep-undercover operative working for rival firm Burkett & Randle, which is on the brink of a delivering a paradigm-busting new product that Equikrom wants badly.
Continue reading: Duplicity Review
And then there is Michael Clayton, a gripping and complicated thriller with hush-hush undertones that would fit comfortably alongside similar films from the 1970s -- think of Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation or Alan J. Pakula The Parallax View, because Clayton writer-director Tony Gilroy certainly had pictures of this fabric in mind.
Continue reading: Michael Clayton Review
The Bourne Identity is based upon Robert Ludlum's famous series of spy thrillers about the elusive and extra-human Jason Bourne. Matt Damon plays Bourne, a spy who survives a shipwreck in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea but does not remember his identity or past. Implanted in his back are a series of bullets and a capsule containing an account number for a safety deposit box in Zurich. Once inside the box, he uncovers a supply of passport identities, money, and weapons - which only adds to his confusion.
Continue reading: The Bourne Identity Review
Consider the strange coincidence of Russell Crowe's character in Proof of Life making the moves on a distraught wife played by Meg Ryan's character in the film -- all while the real Russell Crowe was hitching up with married woman Meg Ryan in the outside world. I haven't seen this much chemistry between actors since McQueen and MacGraw teamed up in Peckinpah's masterpiece, The Getaway.
Continue reading: Proof Of Life Review
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