La Femme Nikita [Blu Ray]: a young drug addict street punk is given the choice to die or train for the French secret service – surprisingly, she opts for the latter. The most striking thing from the opening frame onward is how horribly this film has aged – not unlike a nylon shell suit, it may have been smack-up-to-date at the time but it somewhat limits the ‘timelessness’ factor being so deliberately 80s. In saying this, it gives the film an authentic retro feel, and coupled with the cyber-punky tone & Besson‘s peculiar visual style, it’s definitely unique. Gear and tone continually change as Nikita flips between the perfect assassin, a normal girlfriend and broken down cry baby. Story has some awful comedy moments, but is balanced out with tense action scenes and over-the-top graphic violence. Blu Ray picture and sound are both solid, but never really jump out, and don’t leave a lasting impression. It’s strange that for a film which is unique and powerful enough to define a director and influence most of his subsequent works – not to mention becoming the benchmark of modern assassin, especially female assassin, films; it’s surprisingly not-that-great. Much like Leon (who puts in his first appearance here as The Cleaner) it’s still an enjoyable film, but I remembered it far more fondly than it stands up today. Proof that Besson’s target audience is exclusively teenage males? La Femme Nikita is a solid nuts ‘n’ bolts action piece, but for every good aspect, there’s a counterbalancing disappointment!
Blitz: a crazed killer is knocking cops over like skittles in London, but focusing only on one police station… Story-wise, this follows the tried and tested formula featuring an alcoholic on-edge loner cop, a really bad man and some cat-and-mouse games. It looks quite good, but because of the story and realistic feel you’d associate it more with TV shows like The Bill or Luther. Action scenes are the only parts that remind you it’s a movie, although there’s a cracking chase sequence and several brutal / graphic incidents executed really well. Considine is great (as always) in an understated hero cop role, Gillen does a solid bad guy and Statham nails another Statham-type role, although he’s a bit grittier than usual. There’s absolutely no new ground covered, but for a solid cops vs cop killer story this is a cracker.
Rock ‘n’ Rolla [Blu Ray]: Guy Ritchie introduces another bunch of dodgy geezers that you would find in ‘everyday Britain’… honestly! There’s a huge section of Basil exposition at the start; although goes with the territory of having 20 storylines and around 400 characters. There’s more narration by a LANDAN GEEZA – and the script’s full of more cockney slang / gangster limericks; I wouldn’t blame non-Brits for requiring subtitles. (Ewe go’ mo’ feet on thu street van coppas on thu beat – etc). There’s more Tarantino-esqué styling with wipes, swipes, fast cut editing, dialogue in boxes. There’s more people acting trivially when surrounded by or cut between senseless violence – which is becoming old hat. There’s also more dark comedy elements, which are quite good: a homosexual sub-plot, S&M, botched robbery, comparing scars, indestructible Russians… Where this succeeds is the stunning Brit cast; Hardy, Strong, Elba, ‘Superhands’, Butler, Kebbell, and Newton. The Blu Ray’s worth the extra pennies, with a slick picture and some tasty HD-audio. If you can’t tell from the above, Rock ‘n’ Rolla is more of the same ol’ Guy Ritchie tricks, although it’s all totally passable, and in the end, quite entertaining & watchable. It was planned to be the first of three films and – surprisingly – I’d like to see the other two.
Red Road: at the weekend and really enjoyed it. It’s about a Glaswegian CCTV operator – an unusual filming location, and probably made it more interesting for a Scot to be watching it. Top drawer acting from most involved and the story really draws you in as the film progresses, leaving you guessing a lot ’til the end. In true Scottish cinema style, it doesn’t really portray us in a great light, but is worth picking up! Only after watching this did I realise that Lars Von Trier was involved in the concept and, in his style, it’s going to be a trilogy.
(On a Scottish Cinema theme, Sweet Sixteen is also a brilliant film.)