Archive

Tag Archives: Jeffrey Wright

Broken City Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez, Michael Beach, Kyle Chandler, James Ransone

Broken City: A cop-turned-P.I. is out for revenge after the corrupt Mayor of New York attempts to frame him for murder. This film is a lot of things, some of them not what you’d expect, but for all the shortcomings, it’s always quite fun to watch, if you go along with it. The casting is top-notch, and for the most part, everyone’s giving it welly – particularly Crowe, who’s clearly having a ball. Marky Mark is playing short-tempered Marky Mark, Barry Pepper is – as always – a solid minor character, Zeta-Jones is a seductive MILF… that’s all fairly standard. My biggest issue is that it’s an out-and-out 40s/50s noir script, but set in contemporary New York. It wants to have all of the classic genre elements, but in a modern setting – but it just doesn’t sit well: unlike something like Brick, which has more of a timeless feel. There’s also a ridiculous sub-plot about his model/actress wife, that doesn’t really go anywhere – he should have just been hardboiled. Although not quite as good as you’d expect from this caliber of actors, it’s nowhere near bad – more like the kind of film that you would see being re-re-re-re-repeated at 11pm on a weeknight on some far-flung channel, but with a stellar cast and decent director.

Score: 6.5/10

Ides of March: a brief glimpse behind the cameras and curtains of American politics as an idealist media mogul and presidential candidate get dragged through the dirt on a campaign trail. This has a serious political-thriller script and so many (old and new) big actors involved – which is why it’s unfortunately one of the dampest squibs of the year. The plot is strong, and a good insight into modern politics and politicians… but they’re somewhat of an easy target these days. There’s some great acting on display… but you’re still left wanting more screen time from the likes of Hoffman, Giamatti and Clooney. The direction’s good… but it’s nowhere near as slick or smart as direction of a political film needs to be. With all of these ‘buts’ The Ides of March is definitely weaker than it should be – sorely missing that additional thump that makes good films great, and political stories engaging.

Score: 6.5/10

Quantum Of Solace: we join Bond about ten minutes after Casino Royale, trying to bring his main lead – Mr White – to M for questioning. After the culprit is busted out of custody by double agents in MI6, 007 has to find out how deep the terrorist group Quantum has compromised their operations. Back to back viewings definitely aids QoS as it’s definitely not a stand-alone film.

... and here's the government worrying about texting and driving!

The movie expands and reinforces what we previously learned about 007. As before, he remains a violent (yet arguably successful) instrument, with no self constraint or controllability, and a tendency to leave a trail of destruction wherever he goes – killing off almost every potential lead. Sadly, because 007’s riding solo for much of the story, and his Russian pal is a lady of few words we don’t get much new information, other than an emphasis on his insatiable desire to avenge Vespa. Revenge hasn’t looked this good since Bittersweet Life – Bond looks very sharp; wearing stylish suits, jackets and the very best of London high-fashion!

Making sure hit kills go out with style!

The action set-pieces in this film are shockingly handed. The cuts are so short, editing so rapid, and camera movement so shaky that trying to establish what’s happening and where the people are in relation to each other – and their surroundings – is impossible. Definitely the most poorly constructed action of all the movies.

Someone's falling? Running? Rooftop? Behind the other guy? In front? WTF?!?!

The single biggest thing that Quantum of Solace has going for it is the story, carrying on from the previous film, it follows Bond’s quest for revenge, coupled with his Carmille’s similar story. These stories are tied in with the great, and scarily realistic, idea of a secret society – similar to SPECTRE but with more humble, profit-driven plans – that permeates every institution from the British secret service to the CIA and some rotten dictatorships in Latin America. Not content with slating the easy political targets, it also casts a cynical eye over the UK and US governments for the first time – with both countries stating that they’ll work with anyone that has oil, or any other desirable resources.

Corrupt businessman and corrupt politician... I miss the megalomaniacs

As with the past few movies this one harks back to some of the older adventures, although I’m not sure if these are smug and subtle self-referencial nods, or just a side-effect of the franchise having to recycle old ideas because after 22 films, there ain’t a whole lot left to work with. QoS has the classic suffocation scene from Goldfinger re-done with oil, two people one parachute and the good ol Citroen – among others.

Strawberry Fields - Bond's wondering if the carpet matches the curtains...

The lack of gadgets is also starting to get pretty uncool. I realise that the re-boot is firmly rooted in reality – and we definitely don’t need another battle suit or invisible car – but it doesn’t have to be this boring. The only remotely technological things are a normal phone and a few Minority Report style computers.

"Folks, how do we compensate for no gadgets? Ah, explosions"

Other reasons this film stands out: sandy credits (that stuff goes everywhere!), gunbarrel sequence appearing at the very end (insane!), and someone in photography having a hard-on for contemporary architecture with the Opera house, Bolivian Hotel and Desert Hotel given lots of attention. Most insulting, is the ridiculous collection of stereotypical fonts used to represent different countries. Serious London font. Stylish Italian font. Quirky Latin American fonts. ЯúSSIдN font! How dumb do they think new-age Bond fans are?!?!


As the follow up to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace is just not handled near as well, and while it’s not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, it would be somewhat unfortunate to end a 22-film legacy with this. It it’s well photographed, has a villain, some Bond girls, a henchman and a nasty plot, but they’re all just so boring.

Score: 6/10

Felix looking like a mean-ass mo-fo!!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: European, cool, short, hunched and limping, no talents. Booo! 3
Henchmen: Elvis – literally a secretary with a gun. Booo! 2
Babe: Sunburnt Russian girl. Ms Fields – a tasty toff. 7
Action: Car chase / Footchase / Boat chase / Aerial dogfight / Hotel fight at end (+ lift fight / bar escape). 5

With Bond 23 being kicked in to production James Bond January has done its job!

RELATED LINKS
The M0vie Blog
Battle Royale With Cheese
The Reviewer
Follow all the action here
Note: this was the very first ‘film review‘ I posted back in summer ’09!

Casino Royale: a novice spy, James Bond, seeks out the head of a global terrorist investment group, then tries to bankrupt him in a high-stakes game of poker in the world famous Casino Royale.

He may be the new Bond on the block, but boy can he pull off the Tux!

This installment bursts out the blocks with a B&W Noir film vibe of a 30s film, aspects of which continue to the end of the movie (jaunty camera angles, classic lighting, shadows etc). We join a rookie James Bond here, in the run-up to his second kill – a prerequisite for ’00’ status. There’s flashback to Bonds first kill in a toilet that shows us a sloppy agent, scrambling around in a rough fight, resorting to brutality killing his first target. No previous Bond would have done this, or even be capable of it. Make no mistake, this new Bond is a brute, a thug, firsts are his weapon, brains aren’t there.

Bond: clubbing some dude to death in a toilet...

As far as the casting of Craig is concerned, I think he was superb at showing us an unpolished, rough-and-tumble agent. Sure he’s strong, gets up after every punch and even seems to enjoy a bit of pain, but after one fight we see him genuinely hurt and confused, standing over a sink and scrubbing up like anyone else would (Although he does look like a million dollars in every next scene!). This new 007 isn’t really in to his post-dispatch quips, and the only funny moment comes in the middle of a torture scene where Bond goads the torturer by acting aroused – it’s genuinely laugh-out-loud, but totally bizarre. Still, we see Bonds wildly romantic streak when he and Vespa throw everything away. Top this all off with a chiseled body and as many gratuitious topless/skin-tight scenes as you can justify, and you’ve got yourself a new-age, emotional macho man that’s perfect for the 2000s.

New Bond: Open minded. He will suck your fingers for love!!

The line “I hear 00’s have a short life expectancy” is interesting because it means one of two things. A) this could be THE original James Bond, right back at the start of his adventures, or B) Every actor (and possibly film) before were all different agents using the 007 persona as a cover. Either way, this shit just got interesting!

WTF - James Bond, DOUBLE-O-7, drives a Ford? I feel sorry for him.

What’s more is that it’s not only the character and timeline that’s been re-booted… but someone’s meddled with the age old formula! It doesn’t open with the gun barrel sequence, there are no women in the titles (outrage!), there’s no gadgets (other than a sim card reader – zzzzz), he drives a reasonably priced car, has a normal phone, Felix has turned into a Brother, no Q, and no Monneypenny. Personally, some of it was refreshing, but they overdid the ‘next gen’ elements, shunning a lot of things that made the old Bond films… Bond films.

The 7th person to play Felix, and Leiter's got attitude here!

Yet there are still individual elements and themes lifted from the previous Bond legacy: the key characters have the same names, M is still Judy Dench, it’s as much a travel piece as any previous movie, he pumps numerous women, there’s some huge action set-pieces, we see a fat German with a gold car (!), and when 007 says “I Love You”, you’re still completely fucked. I feel that this film only carried on with the bare minimum required to pass this off as a genuine part of the franchise.

Why doesn't roadkill look like this in Scotland?!?!?

The action’s second to none and makes every previous fight, chase, and budget-blowing stunt look like amateur hour. The parkour/free running chase lasts around 10 minutes and never gets boring, the airport action is as tense as they get, hand-to-hand staircase fight is raw and superb, the car crash – although basic – is jaw dropping and Venice… that’s just off the hook. When the actual gambling begins, Casino Royale slows to a crawl, with very little tension for those that don’t gamble, however the film is literally revived, which also counts like action. There’s not a lot of the big scenes here, but they’re outstanding and well-placed to keep the film moving.

Cracking chase sequence

Other than being a Sony-sponsored assault on your retinas, 007 spending most of his time running between places (or after things), and Bond walking through Venice square – not in a shitty hover-gondola there aren’t any other aspects that stick out for being lame. Story wise, you couldn’t ask for a better one, and although it’s not dumbed down, it’s quite simple and straight-forward considering it involves the British secret service, British treasury, several one-man terrorist contractors, local police, a main villian, an african rebel army, the villain’s boss, a bunch of henchmen, and a couple of double-crosses…

Le Chiffre: couldn't have picked a meaner-looking Blodeldian bad guy!

Special kudos to director Martin Campbell saved the franchise once before with GoldenEye (ensuring Bond’s success post cold-war) and completely re-invented it with this installment – making him as crucial as any actor in the 007 seat. After the excess that most remember from Die Another Day it was the perfect time for a clean slate, and this is the perfect re-boot, shaking off the theatrics and putting the focus back on a tense spy thriller.

One of the many iconic images 'round a poker table in this film

It’s not a great ‘Bond film’ in the classical sense, in fact, you could barely even call it a ‘Bond’ film, however, this is the kick up the arse that the franchise needed to bring it in-line with modern attitudes & modern cinema, and in that sense, this is a brilliant 2000s action film, that happens to have James Bond at the centre.

Score: 8/10

Vesper showcasing her fantastic lungs!

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Scar eyed man – maths genius, blood crying, gambling and weak. 5
Henchman: Wet airport guy – kind of henchman. Parkour guy – kind of. Bald guy – kind of. 2
Bond Girls: Horse-riding exotica HOT!. Vespa – HOT!!!!. Blonde Baddie… HOT. 9
Action: Footchase in building site & consulate / airport / staircase fight / revival / Venice – 7

It's usually medievil guys that ride on horseback, but I guess she'll have to do...

RELATED LINKS
M0vie Blog
Go See Talk
The Athletic Nerd
Battle Royale With Cheese
The Reviewer
Follow all the action here

Looks. Sharp clothes. Style. Machine Gun. Sony Phone. Everything a spy needs...