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May 21, 2003


Heist thriller with unlikely romance included

Little needs to be said about the plot of this star vehicle for Catherine Zeta Jones and Sean Connery. They play high tech thieves, who steal very expensive things, mostly for the challenge, but also looking for that big haul that will make them the top criminal, and allow them to retire forever. Jones is also an insurance investigator, and she is investigating Connery to try and catch him red-handed. In true double agent style, we never know whether she will betray Connery, or her firm, or both. Connery however knows he is being double crossed.

We see them do a couple of stylish and clever heists. The training and execution of Jones' gymnastic feat of avoiding invisible laser beams is the highlight of the film; that skintight black catsuit probably doubled the boxoffice gross. But in the end Connery turns out to be working for the FBI, and betrays Jones to them. In a very unlikely finale, they both declare their love for each other, and escape with $1 billion.

All in all, a fairly pleasant two hours. Sean Connery plays himself, Catherine Zeta Jones does a passable American accent and looks good, and the action is good, and the tension actually does feel real in places. The love story was unconvincing though, and the plot, especially the computer hacking, and FBI and insurance company ineptitude, meant that it should really be treated more as a romantic comedy rather than a thriller.

AE 0

Posted by se71 at 06:21 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2003

The Outlaw Josey Wales

Real western life at the end of the Civil War

Clint spits his way through this film with his usual blend of grit and humour.

During the American civil war Josey Wales is just a simple farmer, then one day 'Red Legs' come (soldiers on the side of the union) and kill his wife and son, and leave him for dead. He survives, and joins the rebels trying to avenge his family. Several years later, and he is one of the most feared outlaws in the south, when the rest of his gang decide to surrender, realising that the war is over. They are betrayed and massacred by the Unionists, but Wales gets his own back by killing many of them, and so a chase begins.

Wales is pursued across the Indian nation; along the way he picks up a growing band of misfits including an old Indian man, a squaw, an old lady and her young beautiful granddaughter (Sondra Locke). Finally they reach a safe haven, a farmhouse, and decide to make their stand. A battle ensues, Wales wins.

If you were to point to the epitome of '70s westerns, this would probably be it. It's a bit slow in places, but the pace gives you time to immerse yourself fully in the world. It's genuinely funny and tragic at the same time. The transition from earlier treatments on film of Red Indian savages to noble Native Americans in almost complete; in fact they are treated as normal human beings with good and bad sides. And just when you think it's getting a bit serious, Clint spits on the dog, which never fails to amuse.

AE 0

Posted by se71 at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2003

Blade II

Stylish follow-up vampire action

Wesley Snipes returns as Blade, accompanied by loyal sidekick Chris Kristofferson whom he rescues in the first 15 minutes. Didn't Chris die in the first one? No, he didn't. We thought he shot himself rather than be captured by the vampires, but he was kidnapped by them, turned into one, and kept alive chained in a vat of blood. A quick injection later and he's as good as new, inventing cool gadgets for Blade to kill vampires with.

Back to the real plot though. A new kind of vampire is on the loose. His prey is not humans, but other vampires. He has an extendable jaw, an bit like a cross between Predator and Alien. He uses this to bite his victims and turns them into strange bald creatures that just seem to want to eat vampires, and bound around like chimps the rest of the time.

The real vampires are scared, and recruit Blade to work with them to try and get rid of them. These new vampires are a bit hard to kill though, and eventually after silver bullets and swords have failed they discover that only UV light does the business. Many battles later, and we discover that the leader of the vampires created this new breed, and their leader is his disowned son. He kills his father, and Blade eventually kills him, and that's about it really.

Everyone wears black leather. The music is pumping techno and rap. It's slick, it's stylish, it's fast. It has lots of Kung Fu type fighting, and vampires exploding in blazes of fire, and it's a lot of fun. It's Blade II, what else did you expect?

AE 0

Posted by se71 at 04:11 PM | Comments (1)

The Game

Dark thriller that almost works

Michael Douglas is a successful businessman, very successful, very rich, and very bored.

His brother buys him a birthday present, a very strange one, it's a part in a game designed for him personally. Reluctantly Douglas goes for the detailed personality testing required to enter the game, and then forgets about it.

A few weeks later, he is caught up in a dangerous situation, and helps a woman escape from some bad people. A lot of this goes on, and Douglas isn't sure, and we're not sure whether what is happening is real, or is part of the game. Then the attempts on his life get even more serious, his brother gets involved and begs him to help him escape the game himself. Then all his wealth is moved out of his bank accounts, and finally he gets drugged and kidnapped and dropped in a foreign country with no identification and no money.

Driven almost to madness, he makes his way back home to try and get his life back. He believes the game's original aim was to do this to him, and he wants revenge, and his life back. And this is where everything falls apart, and the film's twist in the tail spoils everything. What happens is that he finds the headquarters for the game's organisers, and goes there with a gun. Blinded by fury, he accidently shoots and kills his brother, then discovers that the whole game really was a game, and that all his money is fine. This is too much for him, so he walks to the edge of the tall building and throws himself off. And then he lands on a big balloon in the banquet hall on the ground floor, where all his friends have been gathered to give him a big party.

It's just too neat, nothing could be planned so carefully. Driving a man to suicide as a game to spice up his life is too bizarre, and maybe he will never recover from the shock. And the game itself nearly killed him so many times they could have never been sure he would stay alive until the final denoument. It's a great idea, and very well made and enjoyable right up till the endfinale, but the double twist, and the way that you don't believe it could really ever happen like that, spoil an otherwise excellent film.

AE 0

Posted by se71 at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

Terminal Velocity

Ludicrous action thriller, but fun too.

Charlie Sheen plays a parachute trainer who takes on the job teaching a pretty girl how to take her first jump. In the plane she distracts him, and jumps, but very quickly he notices and jumps after her. He nearly catches her, but she plummets to her death. The authorities try to close his business down, but suspicious of the dead girls motives, he searches her bag and finds a photo proving she could already skydive. He then finds her address and goes to search her apartment, which is where it starts getting a bit silly.

It all ends up that she is a Russian spy, who has tried to fake her own death. The body found on the ground was a decoy dropped by another plane. She is trying to recapture Russian gold, and Charlie finds her and they have many adventures involving skydiving and rocket powered cars and really bad people who want to kill them for the gold, including an early appearance by James Gandolfini.

There is some good action, and a great stunt where he rescues the girl from the locked trunk of a car that is in freefall from a plane, but there is an unreal feeling about it all. It seems like a spoof action film, like Hot Shots, which Sheen starred in of course, and it's difficult not to think of that film while you watch this. It's quite enjoyable for all that, but I do wonder why I've actually watched it twice now, maybe Natassja Kinski as the mysterious Russian spy has something to do with it!

EA 0

Posted by se71 at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)