Strike Back: Project Dawn (Season 2) (Mild Spoilers): following on from the action-heavy British mini-series. Sky TV teamed up with Cinemax (aka skinemax) for season two, and as if by magic there’s more tits and ass in the first 5 minutes than the entire first season (and sex / tits / nudity at every possible opportunity moving forward!) Replacing believable badass John Porter with two new faces was a risky move, and it takes a while to adjust to the change, but they really shine from the mid-way point of the series: the British agent (Stonebridge) is played a touch too straight, and American Delta Force (Scott) a tad on the caricature side, but their chemistry, and “yo mama” style banter is thoroughly entertaining – like the highlights of a drunken Lad/Pub chat. Whereas the first season played out as a tight, tightly focused, serious political drama, season two is basically an action romp around the world – where everything explodes, everyone gets shot, and the American guy bangs every hot local in sight. The generic plot-lines only serve to deliver piece after piece of over-the-top action – chases, shoot-outs, sieges, espionage… it’s all there, it’s all good, and there’s 4 more episodes than the first outing! There’s very little resemblance between Season one and this, but they’re both great fun and totally entertaining in their own ways.
Episode 1-2 “Die Hard in India”
Episode 3-4 “Blown Away in South Africa”
Episode 5-6 “Taken in Darfur”
Episode 7-8 “Rambo in Kosovo”
Episode 9-10 “Every episode of 24 in Budapest”
Hardcore (2004): two young prostitutes meet in a brothel and help each other through their tough lives. Packed full of nudity, sex, prostitutes, guns, cars, drugs and lesbians – it feels like it’s going for an overly-outrageous/sensational DVD-shifting Baise Moi vibe, although this is far less nasty. The story’s quite unique in that it’s about young girls that aren’t forced into the sex trade, which makes the two central ladies feel more rounded. I think the film would have worked better if they switched the roles around as they made the prettier girl ‘frumpy/damaged’ and the more average lass ‘sexy manipulator’. However, the person that shines most is the director, who uses a lot of tricks and techniques to make the film more visually interesting, and some hard & fast editing to hold your attention. Despite this it’s all fairly average; the melodrama and ridiculouness gets heaped on heavier and heavier until the Open Your Eyes/Vanilla Sky style finale. Best Greek film I’ve seen? Probably, but I’ve not seen any others.
Click here for the 1979 George C Scott film Hardcore
Looper: when time-travel is invented the mafia use it to send people back in time to be killed by hitmen called ‘Loopers’. The first 30 minutes of Looper is a stunning, high-concept, fast-paced, interesting sci-fi/physics thriller; last 15 minutes is an action-packed, satisfying finale; the problem lies in the middle hour, which is a bog-standard – stretched-out – farmyard drama, where any notion of sci-fi takes a back seat. The future is sensibly crafted, rooted in today’s world but with more decay/poverty – the setting, technology and small details are great at fleshing out the era. Not unlike Brick, there’s a bit of a retro/Noir vibe running through the props, locations, names etc. JGL absolutely steals the show, not only with a solid performance, but by convincingly echoing the mannerisms of a young Bruce Willis – even if the make-up looked way more like Buster Keaton. For a while, I thought that Looper was going to out-do Primer, but it went off-track for far too long. There’s no arguing that there’s a great concept at the heart of the movie, however it feels like the balance between sci-fi and drama had been made less even in order to widen the film’s appeal. Would have been an unbeatable 80/90-minute hard sci-fi film, but at 2 hours it feels unnecessarily long.
Con Air: a released prisoner (former U.S. Ranger) gets caught up in a plane hijacking carried out by the criminal cargo. This is one of the best examples of ridiculous, over-the-top 90s action films (homage to 80s). There’s something about the huge fiery explosions, big loud action and epic weeping / heroic guitar licks that plunges me right into these films. Cage, despite being laughably shit and doing THE worst accent in the history of cinema, holds the film together surprisingly well. Malk is the perfect villain – whose calmness only makes him more terrifying – and his band of crazy henchmen are all gratuitously evil. Cusack is good, but his dashing young looks always make him feel miscast as an authority figure. Everything towards the end of the film (In Vegas) is beyond excessive, ludicrous, and poorly cut – but I guess that’s Vegas for you! Held together by the supercast this is a solid, big action, big entertainment, film that still holds up well.
The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon: Richard Gale’s ten minute short that’s a pseudo-trailer for what would make an absolutely awesome film. Despite the descriptive, yet modest, title this short has explosions, beards, guns, the undead, tanks, global locations and spoons… what more could you ask for? Genuinely funny and very well produced this one is well worth checking out – ‘It will kill you. Even if it takes the rest of your life!’ No need to go anywhere though as it’s on Youtube in HD! LINK: