Richard Suckle

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Wonder Woman Review

Excellent

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome balance of comedy, flirtation and a sense of righteous justice. And at the centre, Gal Gadot is a hugely engaging hero with a refreshing moral clarity to her actions. So even if the movie dissolves into the usual murky digital mayhem in its final act, there's a bright light at the centre that holds us in its grip.

While the Great War rages in Europe, life carries on as usual on the secret island home of the Amazons, where Diana (Gadot) has been raised by her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and trained by her aunt General Antiope (Robin Wright). When American spy Steve (Chris Pine) crash-lands there, Diana quickly agrees to return with him to war-torn Europe, track down God of War Aries and put an end to the fighting for good. Awed by her fighting prowess and skimpy outfit, Steve agrees to take her. They return to London to confront a smug politician (David Thewlis) and assemble a team so they can return to the front on a mission to take down the nefarious German General Ludendorff (Danny Huston) and his chemical weapons scientist Maru (Elena Anaya). But Diana is still looking for Aries.

Director Patty Jenkins tells this story like an old-fashioned war epic, following a rag-tag group of good guys as they go through a series of battles on their way to the big confrontation. Along the way, there's plenty of comedy banter, dark emotion and even some lusty romance. Putting a woman at the centre of the action gives the movie a strongly resonant slant, especially because she's surrounded by men who always underestimate her.

Continue reading: Wonder Woman Review

Suicide Squad Review

OK

DC Comics' villains team up for an overcrowded action movie that never quite finds its tone. Writer-director David Ayer takes a serious approach to an absurd premise, while the actors inject sparks of bitter humour. But with a thin plot and characters that are only superficially developed, the film struggles to grab hold of the audience. At least there's plenty of whizzy action mayhem.

With everyone worried that the next Superman might turn out to be a terrorist, government agent Amanda (Viola Davis) has a crazy idea to turn the most violent criminals in prison into an elite black ops team. These include gruff marksman Deadshot (Will Smith), mentally unstable sexpot Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), archaeologist-turned-enchantress June (Cara Delevingne), Aussie killer Boomerang (Courtney), fire-maker Diablo (Jay Hernandez), swordswoman Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and man-monster Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje). Each of these psychos has a personal weakness Amanda and team leader Rick (Joel Kinnaman) plan to leverage to keep them under control. Meanwhile, Harley's main squeeze Joker (Jared Leto) is trying to help her escape. Oh, and a meta-human wants to decimate humanity.

Ayer introduces each character with his or her own mini-montage, including snippets of back-story and cameos from the likes of Batman (Ben Affleck). These flashbacks continue throughout the movie, stirring emotion into various characters' decision-making processes. But that's about it as far as depth goes, and the script never imagines anything more original than pining after a lost love, missing a child or feeling guilty about past mistakes. While this adds a bit of interest, it never generates any proper connections, either between the characters or with the audience.

Continue reading: Suicide Squad Review

American Hustle Review


Essential

David O. Russell deploys his deranged genius to explore the real events behind Abscam, cleverly focussing on the inter-relationships rather than the details of the elaborate sting operation. So under the wild 1970s hair and costumes, we have a series of characters who are never very likeable but are still hugely engaging. Which makes this one of the most prickly, exhilarating movies of the year.

As the opening caption says, "Some of this actually happened". It's set in 1978 New York, where lowlife conman Irving (Bale) is making a decent living with his girlfriend Sydney (Adams). Although his wife Rosalyn (Lawrence) knows something is up. Things get even more complicated when Irving and Sydney are cornered by FBI agent Richie (Cooper) and forced to co-operate in a complex scam to entrap mobsters and dirty politicians, including the likeable Mayor Polito (Renner), with whom Irving strikes up a friendship. As things develop, the sting continually threatens to spin crazily out of control. And Irving starts to worry that Sydney is getting far too close to Richie.

Intriguingly, even as the story gets more and more insane, Russell keeps the story grounded in the characters and the way they interact with each other. So their shifting relationships, power struggles and internal jealousies take centre stage, blurring the details of the undercover operation into the background. This may annoy viewers who want clear insight into Abscam, but it makes the movie much more involving. And it gives the actors a lot to work with. Each of them delivers a powerhouse performance that blends the character's distinct physicality with a complex inner life.

Continue reading: American Hustle Review

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Richard Suckle Movies

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Suicide Squad Movie Review

Suicide Squad Movie Review

DC Comics' villains team up for an overcrowded action movie that never quite finds its...

American Hustle Movie Review

American Hustle Movie Review

David O. Russell deploys his deranged genius to explore the real events behind Abscam, cleverly...

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