Law Abiding Citizen (mild spoilers): when his wife and kid are murdered and the legal system fails him, a disgruntled everyman with nothing to lose spends years engineering his quasi-legal revenge. Gerrard Butler (Shut up, Butt wad), WTF are you doing man? You’re all over the place and why the fuck did your character get nude when you were arrested? The Fantastic Mr Foxx is OK, doing what he does (normal guy in a moral quandary) but his character’s role is unbelievably wonky: supposed to be a prosecutor, but does loads of detective work. The film starts off interesting – and the opening in particular is powerfully violent – the set-up is theatrically gruesome, but once Butler is in prison it turns absolutely ridiculous – and when you hear about his previous employment it’s like being slapped in the face with a big silly stick. However, it’s quite funny and enjoyable despite being so bizarrely cheesy and shockingly stupid. Deliberately 18-rated, over-the-top B-movie with an A-list cast.
Chronicle: found footage sci-fi flick following three guys who become close friends when they inherit telekinetic/psychokinetic superpowers, and how it changes them. The first ~70 minutes are pretty sweet and the story’s built up well; with solid acting and slap-dash characterisation of three teenagers, who are surprisingly smart (and far more believable) when compared to those of other super-power films. You see them slowly discover and develop their strange new powers which is equally entertaining and fascinating – there’s a few good comedy moments. It’s somewhat disappointing that on the home stretch, one character becomes a ridiculous ‘baddie’ figure (at the mention of the phrase Apex Predator) and the ensuing smash-em-up action-fest feels gratuitous, quota-filling and budget-busting. A quick explanation into the cause of the powers – the hole in the ground – would have been nice, but it’s not a dealbreaker. Overall, Chronicle is a good idea, well executed, boasting smart effects, loads of product placement, feels refreshingly all-American, and in the end, it’s both interesting & watchable; making this a surprisingly mature directorial debut for Josh Trank, who I suspect we’ll be seeing much more of…
The Adjustment Bureau: an aspiring politician accidentally sees behind the curtain of ‘fate’, and how he’s not fully in control of his own destiny, so he tries to re-write the books. This is the first romantic, heavily religious sci-fi thriller I’ve seen in a while… and juggling all those things hurts the film – but that’s only one of the minor problems. The ‘adjustors’ – who are never fully explained – are cringe-inducing. They wear old style clothing (ok), and their special powers are hats that allow them to walk through doors (ookaaaayyyy…..), and their Achilles heel is water (oh.)… Seriously – semi omniscient beings whose kryptonite is the most abundant compound on the planet! As for the other characters, there’s almost no attempt to develop anyone. It also feels like it’s been put together by the NYC tourist board, with no fewer than 10 photogenic locations. As the film went on some of the reveals and explanations were so stupid I was chuckling for minutes at a time. Emily Blunt’s totally watchable, but did I really just see Matt Damon in a big-budget b-movie?? Seriously, what’s he doing here? The final product is a totally ludicrous and non-sensical film; but you get the feeling that everyone involved knew that. It’s ultimately harmless, but totally stupid.