Ulrich Thomsen

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A Second Chance Review


From Denmark, this morally complex drama is urgent and provocative even if the story is full of lapses that make it feel oddly implausible. It's a reteaming of director Susanne Bier and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen, whose breakout 2004 film Brothers (remade in 2009 with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire) had similar problems: a high-concept premise that makes the dilemma more important than plot coherence.

Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau returns home to Denmark to star in the film. He plays Andreas, a detective who is horrified when he and his partner Simon (Ulrich Thomsen) find badly neglected infant Sofus in the home of lowlife ex-con Tristan (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his junkie girlfriend Sanne (Lykke May Anderson). But there's no legal way to remove the baby from his parents. This hits Andreas especially hard since his son Alexander is the same age and his wife Anna (Maria Bonnevie) is struggling emotionally with motherhood. Then Alexander dies unexpectedly and Andreas hatches a plan: he swaps the dead Alexander for the abused Sofus. Obviously both of the mothers notice this immediately, but Anna accepts it and no one will listen to Sanne's outcry. And Tristan is preoccupied with trying to cover up what he thinks is his son's death.

Bier and Jensen work diligently to set up this premise, with details that try to address each aspect of the story, but it simply never holds water. For example, we never believe that Andreas' action is something any caring husband would do, especially one who works for the police. Or that Anna and Simon would go along with it. So as the story becomes increasingly entangled, everything begins to feel like it's heading for the only conclusion possible. Thankfully, Bier and Jensen are skilled enough to make all of this compelling, challenging the audience to confront each decision the characters make and consider the moral repercussions of everything they do.

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Mortdecai Review


Despite a superior cast and terrific-looking production values, this mystery romp is a misfire on every level. The only vaguely entertaining moments come in some snappy wordplay that's presumably all that remains of Kyril Bonfiglioli's beloved novel Don't Point That Thing at Me. Otherwise, the film feels clumsy and outdated, and even Johnny Depp's quirky schtick seems halfhearted. So even though it looks great and elicits a few giggles, it's such a mess that it's hard to imagine why anyone got involved.

Depp plays Lord Charlie Mortdecai, an art expert whose immaculately kept manor house is at risk of foreclosure due to unpaid taxes. So he leaps at the finder's fee when his old pal MI5 Inspector Martland (Ewan McGregor) asks him to investigate a murder linked to a missing Goya painting. The problem is that Martland still holds a torch for Charlie's wife Joanna (Gwyneth Paltrow), a brainy bombshell who launches her own investigation into the case. With his trusty manservant Jock (Paul Bettany) by his side, Charlie is taken to Moscow and Los Angeles in search of the Goya. And it all boils over in a chaotic encounter with a smirking art collector (Jeff Goldblum), his man-crazy daughter (Olivia Munn) and a sneaky killer (Jonny Pasvolsky).

Despite quite a lot of adult-aimed innuendo and violence, director David Koepp (Premium Rush) shoots the movie as if it's a hyperactive kiddie flick, all bright colours and shameless over-acting, with whooshing digitally animated transitions and a series of awkwardly staged car chases. None of this is remotely amusing. Even the constant double entendres are painfully overplayed, while the cartoonish Received Pronunciation accents put on by Depp, Paltrow and McGregor are more distracting than humorous. All of this leaves the characters impossible to engage with on any level; they aren't funny, endearing or even interesting.

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The Thing Review

The makers of this reboot couldn't be bothered to come up with a new title. Or anything else for that matter. Despite a potentially interesting premise, everything about this thriller feels overfamiliar.

At a Norwegian base in Antarctica, a scientist (Thomsen) has assembled a crack team to investigate the discovery of an enormous flying saucer under the ice, complete with an alien creature frozen into a nearby block of ice. But palaeontologist Kate (Winstead) barely has time to examine the specimen before it explodes into the night with some secret weaponry that's rather tricky to fight against. Kate and her colleague Adam (Olsen), along with tough-guy American helicopter pilots (Edgerton and Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and the Norwegian team are all at risk now.

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Picture - Ulrich Thomsen Los Angeles, California, Monday 10th October 2011

Ulrich Thomsen Monday 10th October 2011 'The Thing' Los Angeles Premiere held at The AMC Universal City Walk in Universal City Los Angeles, California

Picture - Ulrich Thomsen Los Angeles, California, USA, Monday 10th October 2011

Ulrich Thomsen Monday 10th October 2011 'The Thing' Los Angeles Premiere held at The AMC Universal City Walk in Universal City Los Angeles, California, USA

Ulrich Thomsen
Ulrich Thomsen

In a Better World Review

This gorgeously assembled Oscar-winning Danish drama explores the nature of violence in a deeply unsettling way. Watching the events unfold is often painfully intense, as we see through the eyes of a variety of conflicted characters.

After his mother dies, 12-year-old Christian (Nielsen) and his father Claus (Thomsen) move from London back to Denmark. Christian is angry at the world, and lashes out at the bully (Holm) in his new school. He befriends the bullied Elias (Rygaard), whose parents Marianne and Anton (Dyrholm and Persbrandt) are splitting up, partly because Anton spends large periods of time working as a doctor in rural Africa. Then after a local bigot (Bodnia) slaps Anton, Christian hatches a plan to get revenge in a very violent way.

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Season of the Witch Review

It's not easy to understand why anyone agreed to fund this film, as the box office drawing power of Nicolas Cage is a bit suspect after a string of stinkers like this bizarre, unscary medieval thriller.

After 12 years murdering men, women and children in the Crusades, Behman (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) have a crisis of conscience and desert the army. They end up in a remote town, where they agree to escort an accused witch (Foy) to a distant monastery that has the only incantation that can destroy her and halt the Black Death. They're accompanied by a resolute priest (Moore) and his sidekick (Thomsen), then joined by an altar boy (Sheehan) determined to become a knight. Of course the journey is fraught with surprises.

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Centurion Review

With a raucous, gruesome tone, this Roman-era British action movie takes us back in time in such a vivid way that we often feel a bit queasy while watching. If the story were stronger, we'd be glued to the screen.

Quintus Dias (Fassbender) seems to be an unusually lucky centurion. Stationed in the nastiest outpost on the edge of the Roman Empire in Britain, he's the only survivor of a Pict attack by the vindictive Gorlacon (Thomsen). So he teams with General Virilus (West) and heads back into the hot zone. Again, the Picts launch a devastating attack. This time seven Romans survive, and it becomes a cat-and-mouse chase as mute huntress Etain (Kurylenko) tenaciously tracks Quintus and company across the Highlands. Can they make it back to safety in the south?

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Season Of The Witch Trailer

Watch the trailer for Season Of The Witch

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The International Review

Tom Tykwer's The International can trace its bloodline back to the paranoia peddlers of the 1970s --- think The Parallax View or Three Days of the Condor -- but benefits tremendously from our current predicaments. After all, can you think of a better time to open a globetrotting thriller that casts a morally bankrupt financial institution in the villainous role?

This isn't just any bank behaving badly, though. The fictitious International Bank of Business and Credit is a global (yet eerily faceless) entity with employees who are experts at covering the shadow organization's tracks. When necessary, the IBBC can make court records, police documents, and even people disappear. The IBBC established its wealth laundering money for terrorist groups and organized criminals. Now it's bidding to broker a major arms deal with China that would supply weapons to Middle Eastern military factions.

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Hitman Review

Gamers typically get all gooey when supposed console-less critics nitpick the big screen adaptation of their favorite platform title. It's part and parcel of the joystick jockey's mantle. Hitman, based on the popular series from Eidos Interactive, is the latest attempt to bring the PlayStation to the Cineplex. Begun in 2000, and with four gaming titles under its belt, players act as a hired assassin, working their way through various levels of intrigue and crazy, chaotic firefights. The purpose, clearly, is to slaughter everyone who's in your way. It's all bloodlust and cloying cat and mouse. Sadly, someone forgot to tell screenwriter Skip Woods about this. Instead, he's crafted something that plays like John Woo drained of all his slo-mo energy and drive. Even worse, it's then turned over to a director who further weakens the material's inherent excessiveness.

For three years, a top Interpol agent (Dougray Scott) has been chasing an elusive, unknown assassin. When a Russian politician is murdered, the cop clearly suspects that Number 47 (Timothy Olyphant) has struck again. The paid killer is informed that a prostitute named Nika (Olga Kurylenko) witnessed the crime. He is ordered to take her out. Of course, it's all a setup. Belicoff (Ulrich Thomsen), the supposedly dead candidate, shows up for a speech, and the Russian Intelligence community is out rattling 47's cage. Our antihero saves Nika from a bullet, travels to Istanbul to interrogate Belicoff's drug running brother Udre (Henry Ian Cusik) and returns to the scene of the initial shooting to discover why he was framed. Turns out, it has more to do with one man's paranoia and ambitions than a simple contract hit -- and 47 is destined to play a part in it all.

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Brothers (2004) Review

In an intelligent psychological drama, director/co-writer Susanne Bier shows us some sure-footedness in developing a complex story and engaging us with characters that make the traumatic stress disorder resulting from war revealing. Though her film doesn't entirely avoid some clichés and borders on melodrama, it doesn't spoil the timely interest of its core subject and the level of tension that it generates.

Add to that a fine ensemble cast to bring us into it. The two brothers of the title are Michael (Ulrich Thomsen), a career military man who seems to excel at everything, and his no-good brother Jannik (Nikolai Lie Kaas, Reconstruction), for whom Michael is both a role model and an impossible standard to live up to. Jannik's love and respect for Michael, on the other hand, is intertwined with the rebelliousness that comes of this inadequacy. To make the point and to make the relationships clear, the film starts with Michael picking Jannik up when he's released from prison and suggesting, on the ride home, that he should apologize to the victim of his crime. Such propriety. Jannik's prison time wasn't adequate punishment for Michael's high standards.

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Killing Me Softly Review

Hey, remember when Joseph Fiennes was a big artsy star after Shakespeare in Love? No. Well, neither does he. Today you're more likely to find him in a film like this, a bizarre erotic thriller from Chen Kaige, best known as the director of a variety of Chinese historical epics. Killing Me Softly features Fiennes as a maybe-he's-a-creepy-rapist/maybe-he's-not kinda fellow, and Heather Graham is the woman who falls in love with him at first sight. What develops is a story about a lost mountain expedition (which Fiennes was part of), missing ex-girlfriends, and lots of blind clues (think typewritten letters shoved under the door) that suggest Fiennes is a really bad dude. In the end the film comes across like a kind of cheap knockoff of Basic Instinct, right down to the string-heavy score. Fiennes even has a taste for kinky sex, and as a fearful Graham is tied to the kitchen table she says, "Sometimes I feel like I don't know you." It's pretty campy-silly, but it's surprisingly watchable for some reason, maybe because of the name-brand actors sleazing it in this Skinemax would-be classic. Who knows. Just check out the unrated edition for extra fun.

Max Review

Going into Max I knew nothing at all of what it was about. With such a title (and let's face it, a truly awful one at that), Max could have been a story about anything. The last thing I would ever have expected would be that it was a semi-fictionalized tale of a young Adolf Hitler after the close of WWI, when he was trying to make it as an artist.

The Max in question is Max Rothman (John Cusack), an amalgam of various art dealers and teachers who mentors the young Corporal Hitler (Noah Taylor) in the ways of art. Max himself is an artist too (an early performance artist, it seems, based on a bizarre skit seemingly inspired by Pink Floyd: The Wall) and sees potential in the young Adolf, urging him on while watching him grow more political as forces turn him in the direction he ultimately took. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Max is a Jew (not to mention a one-armed cripple), the hatred of which becomes the centerpiece of Hitler's ideology.

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The Inheritance Review

The Inheritance is a haunting look at how a sudden death in the family -- and the inheritance that comes with it -- can wreak havoc on a man's life.

Christoffer (Ulrich Thomsen) is happy to run his Swedish restaurant, far away from the demands of his ultra-rich family, but when his father dies, it's a matter of hours before he's sucked back in to run the family business, a high-pressure steel factory, rife with all manner of closet skeletons.

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