Predestination [no spoilers]: an elite time-hopping agent who has saved thousands of lives by preventing disasters is struggling to catch his final target – the Fizzle Bomber. After one brief action scene the 50-minute setup is a big gamble that could potentially lose the audience… however, it pays off big time as bucket-loads of seemingly throwaway details come together to form a sublime ‘penny-dropping’ finale that may well melt your tiny, panicking brain. It’s a very tight story, played out through an exceptional pair of performances from both Hawke (who is making some great film choices at the moment) and Snook (who comes out of nowhere); proving that, although difficult, you can fuse both high-concept sci-fi and low-level personal drama. Storytelling aside, the film looks and feels fantastic – given the modest ~$7M budget – with stylish retro, retro-future and retro-sci-fi vibes, paired with strong framing and camerawork / camera tricks. I also liked the subtle references to other time travel movies, but to mention them may be spoiler-tastic. Put this all together and you have the most complex and intelligent time travel story since Primer, that feels like something a young Christopher Nolan would have done. Predestination is a fresh, original, and smart time-travel thriller: if most movies had even a 10th of this film’s ambition, the film industry would be a much better place. If this sounds up your street don’t read another word or review before you check it out.
Repo Men [Blu Ray]: when organ replacements are bought on hire purchase, people who miss payments have said organs removed by repo men. Jude Law is in the future again, hanging out with cyborgs again, sporting an awful accent… again. Live Schreiber is a snake oil salesman / shark in a suit… again. So the casting’s not very imaginative. Storywise, it hurts your head to watch such an incoherently directed film: three months pass in 5 minutes. One character goes from rich to unwell, to a hobo, then finds hobo love, then becomes an action hero, then a blood fetishist… Then from out of nowhere someone gets a conscience. It’s generally hard to know what’s what in the mangled plot, as well as how much time has passed and what’s supposed to have happened between the scenes. There’s some heavy flow gore (done well), cheeky product placement, a ridiculous voiceover, and it’s the only film I’ll probably ever watch and shout “Scan her tits!” at the screen. Things eventually pick up with a semi-redemptive OTT knife-and-saw fight near the end, followed by an insane blood orgy and a half-decent ending that made me add a 1/2 mark out of pity. The other two points are for Whittaker and the soundtrack. Blu Ray picture and sound are both solid – but just don’t waste your time with the film! Repo Men is a classic case of great idea with batshit terrible execution; rendering it the definition of idiotic.
Submarine: Oliver Tate just got his first girlfriend, right as his parents marriage begins to crumble – so he tries to give them a hand… For being a one-boy show, the central character’s great; despite being a little clichéd he’s good fun to watch, and his monologues / voiceovers are a solid way of pushing the story forward. The scriptwriting scores in two ways: the dialogue is offbeat yet manages to stay below the annoying radar; and the humour is so dry, deadpan and dark that the two elements really complement each other. For being his first time behind a camera, it’s strongly directed, and has some surprisingly cinematic moments – given that it is intentionally an indie-feeling film. The casting’s spot on and despite each character having a hint of the absurd, you can still buy in to them as they’re all very human. What’s best about this coming-of-age tale is that it captures the awkwardness of youth like you rarely see; even though these exact events didn’t happen, it’s all too easy to relate to the story, and Oliver. Despite bring painfully indie Submarine remains very watchable and entertaining for the duration.