Justified: The Final Season (Season 6) – Old-school kick-ass US Marshall Raylan Givens tries to put his lifelong nemesis Boyd Crowder behind bars before he gets re-posted to Miami. I didn’t get round to writing up reviews of Seasons 4 & 5 as they felt like the show was resting on its laurels – but Season 6 brings back all of the elements that make Justified a great show to watch; well written storylines and characters, fantastic dialogue, and a thick streak of humour – it’s entertaining TV in its purest form. The writing is particularly special in this season, which boasts an intricate, overlapping and multi-layered story that sees the upper hand continually shift between the law, and Harlan’s various quibbling crime factions. Everyone that’s still alive gets drafted back in, and because it’s the final season there’s no shortage of people being written out either – usually at the behest of Boyd, to make him seem more dangerous than the last few seasons. The only thing that is missing is a baddie that matches the villainous heights of Quarels or Maggs Bennett – or even a consistent henchman – but with all of the other fireworks going on, it’s not as big a deal as the previous seasons. The final 20 mins our may divide people, as it plays out in an ‘X years later’ fashion, trying to round everything off. Season six had a major legacy to uphold and close out, which it managed comfortably, while staying true to the characters, which are the biggest draw to the show – Olyphant and Goggins will always be Raylan and Boyd to Justified fans. Season six is a satisfying conclusion to one of the most enjoyable and truly entertaining shows on TV – sad to see it hand over its gun and badge.
Red 2: a Retired, Extremely Dangerous (RED) agent Frank Moses is back on the radar when an APB goes out to every contract killer in the world, with a tasty bounty on his head. First off, although he’s in a restrictive role (and – skeptically – probably only to sell tickets in Asia) I like the gamble of casting a Korean megastar that is relatively unknown in the West. Even delivering phonetic/over-dubbed lines Lee Byung-Hun steals his scenes, and raises the action bar – peaking in the impressive and innovative fridge-door fight in Moscow. It’s also as funny as RED was, but every single laugh is John Malkovich – “If there’s one thing I know, it’s women and covert operations”. Hopkins is entertaining, Louise-Parker & Zeta-Jones are both hyphenated surnames, and dame Mirren also enjoyable company. The setup is rrrrrather contemporary for a comic – a’la WikiLeaks, but the overall story (and film) don’t flow particularly well as they’re determined to have a James Bond style travelogue element – popping up here, there, and everywhere for no real reason: London, Moscow, Paris, America… despite this, it’s hard not to switch off by the end as the required ‘twisty-turny’ but overall a fairly predictable story arc plays out – what’s wrong with goodies being good and baddies staying bad?!?!? Basically, Bruce Willis doing a dialed-in ‘wise guy’ with diluted attitude, surrounded by people you’d rather be watching – all reminding you of that film ‘Paycheck’, but for the wrong reasons. Less Die Hard, more Die Soft and wrinkly.
Coco Before Chanel: follows the early life of Coco Chanel, who would become one of the most important fashion designers in the world, like, totally, ever! So she starts out as an orphan, and slowly grows up / whores herself into the most ungrateful super-leech in the world; this character is so unlikable that you wonder why anyone in the film tolerates her, let alone why all of the men are fawning and fighting over Coco. Early 1900s France is a lovely setting but the story, and eventual romance, are tedious. I never, ever thought I’d watch a film like this and be craving more dress-making, tailoring, and general fashion talk… but that’s how boring everything else in the movie is. Above all else the snail’s pace destroys any hint of momentum; as the film dwells on gentry lifestyle, a sulking brat-like Coco and boring class-struggles.
I scraped through the first 90 minutes, couldn’t have given less of a crap about the final 20.
Alternative plans: left my lady to it and made my supper early – mentally filed this in my crammed cabinet of boring period dramas. Couldn’t get the Stellastarr* song ‘My Coco’ out of my head… so not all bad. Other walkouts…
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec: Based on the Jacques Tardi comic books, this follows a female adventurer in 1911 Paris who is traveling the world to find a cure for her comatose’d sister. With pterodactyls, mummies, bandits, hunters and a ton of other stuff, it’s all a bit crazy – landing as a PG adventure not a million miles from Indiana Jones / Jumanji / The Mummy etc… Louise Bourgoin is a great match for the quirky, strong, sexy, determined, action heroine, and to top it all of, out of nowhere… BOOM… nude bath scene (in a kids film!?!?). With Luc Besson behind the camera the film’s in good hands, it’s executed interestingly, but even he couldn’t put all of the randomness together seamlessly. It’s French, it’s crazy, and it’s quite an enjoyable adventure romp despite the absurdity.