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The Drop Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov, Michael Esper,

The Drop: when his bar is robbed on a ‘drop night’ – when illegal bookies stash their winnings for gangs to collect – a bar owner, and bartender need to figure out who’s ripped them off. This is a film that’s been designed to be a quiet slow-burner with sustained tension. It’s the kind of film where someone asking for directions or talking about a dog has multiple meanings and veiled threats. There’s a lot of additional detail thrown in to deliberately set up every character as being potentially dangerous, giving you just enough information about their life to explain their circumstances, and making them feel more authentic. The mood is carried expertly by a strong central cast – Hardy plays a blinder as a slightly simple bartender, Gandolfini was engrossing but because it was his last role it would have been good to see him doing something that wasn’t a ‘Soprano lite’ job. Rapace and Schoenaerts are also very impressive in their supporting roles. it’s so well made and acted that it reminds you of other ‘hefty’ films like Mystic River or Prisoners. The only couple of missteps were that the Chechen gangsters felt like they were straight out of Taken; and because it’s set in religious Brooklyn, the thick accents were a little bit iffy across the board. It’s clearly meant to be an actor’s piece, but when it’s this well-presented and finely tuned, you’ve got to tip your hat to director Michaël R. Roskam and Cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis. Despite being intensely low-key and a touch dreary, The Drop is ultimately a gripping character-driven crime drama, and I’m surprised there’s not been a bigger buzz about it.

Score: 8/10 The Drop Noomi Rapace Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov, Michael Esper, The Drop James Gandolfini, Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov, Michael Esper,The Drop Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, James Gandolfini, John Ortiz, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Michael Aronov, Michael Esper,

Prometheus: a team of crack scientists travel to a distant planet to discover humanity’s beginnings, however, what they find could finish us all off! The opening aerial shots of breathetaking, sweeping landscapes are geography porn, it’s so beautiful that it’s worth the entrance fee alone. The rest of the film looks just as great, with sumptuous visuals, well-designed costumes & sets, and totally seamless impressive CGI. To match this, the acting roster’s impressive, although it’s absolutely owned by Fassbender‘s portrayal of David the android; he’s efficient, calculating, and believably robotic – surprisingly, he’s also by far the most interesting character, and the film’s biggest driving force. Charlize Theron’s role disappointingly amounts to nothing more than “hottie in a cat suit”. Frustraitingly, the film spends most of the runtime raising, contemplating and flirting with massive questions & themes – religion, evolution, why are we here, meeting our makers… – It’s just a shame that it spends next to no time resolving or answering any. As for being an Alien prequel, it feels intentionally distanced, with not much more than a fleeting post-script that is clunkily added-on. All in, I think Ridley’s hoping that the big loud grand spectacle will serve as a distraction from the fact that the story is neither strong, nor particularly original – which is epitomised best in Fassbender’s time in the fancy, flashy galaxy simulator thingmy-bob.

Score: 6/10


The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest: final part of the Millennium trilogy, following on from the Dragon Tattoo and Played with Fire. Continuing the downward trend, this looks and feels as bland as most TV movies – 0% cinematic and very little excitement or tension. The plot slowly meanders down two paths: a rehabilitation / courtroom saga for Lisbeth and yet another investigation for Mikael. It’s far, far too long (147 mins) given how little the plot progresses and how pedestrian the story is. While the acting’s still great and there’s a tiny bit of steam left, the focus here is entirely on wrapping up the 2nd film; which was already well below the brilliant stand-alone whodunnit, Dragon Tattoo. Most telling, even when walking out of the cinema I could only recall a handful of good scenes. Fire and Hornet could probably be edited together, cutting out all of the bloated story & characterisation and focusing on the excitement and drama that’s been so diluted in these behemoth instalments. The Fincher re-makes will have trouble competing with the first film, but the other two are his for the taking. A dreadful final chapter, and for closing up a tale that’s over 7 hours long the ending was such an anti-climactic disappointment.

Score: 3/10

The Girl Who Played with Fire: Lisbeth heads back to Sweden after becoming the number one suspect in a treble murder – she tries to get to the bottom of the set-up while Mikael is out to prove her innocence. The writing is a lot sloppier than Dragon Tattoo with a few cheap characters written in for no reason other than making the story a bit more interesting – particularly the real-life boxer guy and two biker goons. In saying this, the story is still decent, even if it is all geared at backgrounding Lisbeth. Once again the two leads carry the story with enviable ease, Rapace in particular gets a lot of time to shine; the smaller presence of Nyqvist lets the film down a little. It also feels a lot more fictitious, with Mikael main guy out-foxing the police at every turn and Salander’s espionage / fighting super-skills. With a different director behind the camera the tone of the second film is worlds apart from the Dragon Tattoo; couple this with the weaker story and it’s nowhere near as gripping or memorable, as it unfolds somewhat predictably. As a stand alone film this would have been a good effort but after Dragon Tattoo this just seems so much more tamer and safer. Despite this review sounding hella negative Played with Fire is a good film, and does a solid job of keeping the trilogy going, while setting up the third installment.

Score: 6/10

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: (Blu Ray) Film adaptation of the eponymous novel – follows an investigative journalist and a computer hacker as they investigate a 40 year old disappearance, which in turn unearths much bigger crimes. The one thing that grabs you for the duration is the performances offered up by the cast, particularly the two mains: Rapace is great at portraying an enigmatic character, who is strong and smart, yet damaged and vulnerable; Nyqvist on the other hand effortlessly portrays a determined journalist and dedicated researcher with incorruptible morals. Mains aside, nobody else really drops the ball either and the strong cast definitely make the film more believable, engaging and gripping. As for the story, you’ve seen it a thousand times before, but never done like this: it’s essentially a Miss Marple ‘whodunnit’ murder mystery served up with a huge wedge of modernity – metro setting, bit of snuff, bit of action, bit of romance, and lots of graphic scenes & descriptions of terrible crimes – add to this a bunch of critiques (violence against women, corrupt big business, modern Sweden…) and you have a very busy film. My favourite aspect of Dragon Tattoo is how the story’s told – it obviously helps to have great source material – but the direction is outstanding, and no matter how hard it gets to watch, or how long it goes on for, you simply can’t stop watching.  My only major nitpick was the constant flashbacks as everything else about the film batted a lot higher. The BD picture is decent enough but typical Scandinavian washed out bleak pallet means that nothing really jumps out – sound again is alright, but nothing special. The final product is a modern facelift of the classic murder mystery that continually makes you wince, yet keeps you hooked through to the very last scene

Score: 8/10