Category Archives: Action

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Return of Fun

This is one of the most confusing sequels in recent years. The first xXx was bad but xXx2: The Next Level is even worse. In fact I hear it’s now used as a form of torture in some countries but I guess people must have liked them though? Otherwise why would there be a sequel?

Imagine my surprise as I walk into the screening and it is jam-packed, wall to wall… with empty fucking seats. Who signed off on this film to get made?

Even co-stars like Donnie Yen and Ice Cube would have been expensive to bring onboard let alone Samuel L Jackson and Vin Diesel. Clearly someone was banking on rebooting this as another mega-franchise like Fast and Furious because at an estimated cost of $85 mill this gamble is going to lose some serious dollar.

And rightly so. It’s a crap film. It’s offensive to all senses, even Bruce Willis in the sixth sense is offended! Spoiler alert: He’s the ghost.

 Yet for all its stupid bullshit I really enjoyed watching it.

There are a five reasons for this and three of them are Donnie Yen. If you don’t know Donnie Yen he fights like Jackie Chan only a bit less campy. Donnie Yen is such a bad-ass action star that he makes everything look effortlessly cool. Thankfully he holds a lot of screen-time.

The rest of the film makes no sense. Why would Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) want to bring a DJ or a brain damaged guy whose “thing” is to be terrible at driving into his crack team of anti-heroes? Or why is he skiing down a forest or racing motorbikes in the sea? In the fucking sea?!

I don’t have those answers. I can tell you it’s a beautiful chaos. Sort of like the Lego movie that features a magic cat that lives in a rainbow land. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t have to – it’s a magic rainbow cat. Some times things can just be fun for the sake of being fun; of bringing a smile to one’s face. That can’t be all bad, right?

xXx knows that this isn’t the next Bourne franchise so it rolls with it’s own stupidity, poking fun at itself along the way. I wish it wasn’t 14 year old boy fantasy fun though. If you are a feminist… probably skip this one yeah!?

Literally everywhere Xander Cage goes there are scantily clad women throwing themselves at Xander Cage and him taking full advantage of it even though we know that Donnie Yen is the real deal here!

The film does try to be progressive with the inclusion of Adele Wolff (Ruby Rose) who is a hardcore and somewhat gender neutral sniper with green hair and nice tats – I mean tattoos, not boobs – but this seems like a token gesture even if Rose owns her role.

The Return of Xander Cage seems to have been met with a box office flop. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The film is tongue-in-cheek rubbish but with the world seemingly going more crazy by the day why not return some fun to it?

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Donnie Yen
+ Ruby Rose
+ It’s actually really fun to watch!

– Hugely sexist
– Pure crap
– Nonsensical plot and action scenes



Underworld: Blood Wars

Old Meat, New Blood

January is a weird time to release a brainless action flick about sexy vampires punching gross wolf people… yet on some level it’s also the perfect antidote to the heavy going Oscar bait that is currently flooding the cinemas here in the UK.

Blood Wars is an entertaining yet wholly unsurprising addition to the Underworld series. The film focuses around the eternal conflict between vampires and lycans touching upon the internal power plays of the two factions and shockingly Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is sandwiched between right in the middle. Again.

When you break it down to the bare bones this is almost the same film as the last two or three and once again only progressing the storyline and characters in small increments. Normally that would be a damning critique but Underworld sticks to what it’s good at: kicking ass in style.

It is still has excellent production design. It still has the familiar plot threads as outlined above. It still has hoards of werewolves. It still has Kate Beckinsale looking hot in tight leathers for us Neanderthal males (Theo James for the Neanderthal ladies). It still has some really well choreographed fight scenes.

There’s arguably only two surprising elements to Blood Wars. The first of which is Clementine Nicholson who plays Lena – a high ranking vampire from a different covenant.

Nicholson manages to capture your gaze whenever she is on screen. I mean, sure, it helps that she is strikingly beautiful but there’s more to it than that. She exudes star power which isn’t uncommon in Hollywood but Blood Wars is her first ever feature film. It’s an impressive role to snag as a debut. She didn’t let the casting team down.

New blood and a talent to look for in the future. You heard it here first.

The other surprising part about Blood wars is how little the plot moves. The crux of the whole film is that Marius (Tobias Menzies) – head of the l – wants to get his hands on Selene’s half-vamp half-lycan daughter. Selene doesn’t know where she is. They have play a game of fisticuffs and… well… that’s about it.

Selene’s daughter is one of the most important threads that weaves Blood Wars to it’s predecessors. It starts with “I don’t know where she is” and ends with “I don’t know where she is… meh, maybe I should!?”.

As far as pushing forward an overarching narrative goes it would be like you upgrading from a 2 bed house to a 2 bed house… with a shed. Or living in a city suburb then going on a holiday to the city centre for two weeks.

Underworld Blood Wars is nothing to get excited about unless you are a fan of the series. It does enough of what it’s good at to keep such fans from feeling disenfranchised and although Clementine Nicholson injects some new blood into the series the real meat filling is the same old stuff you’ve had before.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Stylish
+ Decent action
+ Clementine Nicholson debut

– Nothing new
– Plot doesn’t really go anywhere


Assassins Creed

Bad Ass-assin

There are some really beautiful sweeping vistas of sepia toned Spanish cities from the middle ages in Assassins Creed that emblazens your imagination. Why the art director decided to hide these views under thick layers of fog and smoke and dust is not only beyond me but it’s symptomatic of the film simply missing the fucking point.

If you’ve played the games then you should probably avoid the film because it focuses more on Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) and his relationship with his dad than it does the perpetual fight between Templars and Assassins which is disappointing.

If you haven’t played the games then good luck because the lore is publicised as well as your local drug dealer’s P&L accounts.

Let me help.

There is an order of people called the Templars. You can think of them as your current government; they are the ruling classes and could care less about your liberties but hey, they do get shit done.

The Templars want rid of the Assassins who are rebels and freedom fighters. The good guys… as long as you are happy to overlook the whole merciless killing of power figures and any grunt foolish enough to do their job and try to keep the peace. Obviously you’re happy to do that because assassins are cool as shit!

Whilst this dichotomy of values between the two factions and indeed within themselves is only skirted over in the games it’s non-existent in the film. Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard), Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) in fact all Templars are one-dimensional “seedy” types and all the Assassins are moody and unlikable.

In the film the Templars are chasing the Apple of Eden which, again, isn’t really explained but it is a literal mind control device of mysterious and unknown origins. It’s been lost since the 1300s.

The Animus is a device that will help locate the Apple. It scrubs your DNA looking for “memories” of your ancestors and allows the user to re-live past events. In this case Cal’s ancestor was the last known person to hold the Apple so relive his life, find the Apple, control the people, rule supreme.

In the game you have to synchronise these memories which provides a loose set of universal laws to the game. You can’t wander too far from your intended location or die or fulfil your inner psychopath by killing everything in sight… unfortunately. Try it and you de-sync. Game over. Start again.

This could have been so brilliant to play with on screen. Think about how wonderful Edge of Tomorrow (or even Groundhog Day!) was simply by failing to fulfil your destiny. Lynch could have tried to run away at first. De-sync. Tell his fellow assassins they are ass hats. de-sync. Be rubbish at assassinating. De-sync. Started disco dancing in front of the town guard. De-sync.

What actually happens is he gets put in the Animus and instantly he is a total badass. What a let down. Where’s the learning curve? Where is the fun?!

At least, being a total bad-ass, means that you get to see some really cool action scenes and to their credit it does convey the freedom of movement and elaborate fight scenes found within the game but that isn’t good enough.

Director Justin Kurzel has managed to strip out almost everything that was interesting and unique about the Assassins Creed game series and settle for a middle of the road generic blockbuster. This film puts the ass in assassin and the mustn’t in Animus!

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Unlikable characters
+ Epic scenery hidden by smoke and fog
+ Doesn’t explain the animus or the Templars or anything

– Awesome fight scenes
– Free running
– Some nice costume designs


The Accountant

Something Doesn’t Add Up

I think whatever you believe this film is… It’s probably not that.

I went in with expectations of an autistic kid who is excellent with numbers being used by the mob to make their operations look as legit Lehman Brothers financial services… or at least pre-2008 Lehman Brothers.

Obviously the social ineptitude that comes part and parcel with autism would provide reason for him to use violence without feeling remorse and along the way we would explore autism, we would learn something about the condition and about ourselves, we would grow and become better human beings.

None of that happened.

To be honest I don’t actually know what we got. It was sort of part action film, part crime thriller and part family drama. The Accountant’s biggest failing is its lack of commitment to any one genre.

The bonkers plot is straight out an action film. If you don’t really want an accounting problem solved then I’d suggest you hire someone who graduated at Billy Ballbag’s school of shoddy accounting… don’t just jump in at the deep end and hire the love child of Albert Einstein and Stephen freaking Hawkins.

Then again, the action scenes are quite good and Ben Affleck plays the role with relative conviction. I’ve always thought that he is best when he is playing the social outcast or someone who life has on the back foot. This is exactly the case here.

However, this type of verbally challenged character doesn’t particularly make for good interactions with other characters.

The result of this is that the moments that Affleck is communicating with his brother Brax (Jon Bernthal) or his boss Lamar Black (John Lithgow) are as empty as my dad’s promises to do the washing. You just sit there waiting for something interesting to happen.

The same is obviously true of his co-worker Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) which is a shame because Kendrick’s character is actually an enjoyable one to watch. Perhaps if the film had decided what it wanted to be then maybe there would have been room to further develop the relationship between Kendrick and Affleck.

Perhaps it could have also truly explored what it would be like to live with Autism rather than just use it as a mechanism to further the convoluted array of subplots. If, like me, you were expecting to learn anything from The Accountant then it’s simply this: autistic people don’t like social interactions but love ceiling mounted miniguns.

Ordinarily you could add up all of these parts and it would equal a truly impressive turd of a film yet there is something really watchable about The Accountant. Give it a watch. Just don’t hold me accountable if you don’t like it.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Some decent action
+ Anna Kendrick
+ It’s actually surprisingly watchable

– Confused genre
– Nothing really to do with Autism
– Bonkers plot with too many subplots


Doctor Strange

Marvel – Still Alive and Kicking

Let’s jump right to it. This is a Marvel movie. Sure, they are as common as Mars bars at the minute but god damn if they aren’t as delicious as those Lindor truffles!

I say it in almost every Marvel review but the foresight of Marvel studios is astonishing. Building out the wider Marvel universe is one thing but the real magic is keeping viewer fatigue at bay especially since doctors orders was to take 1-2 films, twice a year for 10 whole years!!

Charlie Sheen might disagree but you can have too much of a good thing!

However, by drip feeding us new characters like Black Panther and changing the style of films with Captain America being more of a drama and then along comes Ant-Man as a comedy crime caper.

So where does the Sorcerer Supreme fit in?

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a rockstar doctor who can do no wrong but after being involved in a horrific accident he has to look for unconventional healing methods after western medicine fails him. It’s here in this quest that he finds The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who introduces him to, essentially, a new way of living.

If you strip back all the mysticism and Inception style visuals you are left with a film that is incredibly similar to Iron Man.

I really wish the structure and character journey could live up to the name the doctor’s last name and taken us to mind bending places but that’s not the case. It is another Superhero film, but it’s an excellent one!

Doctor Strange, without question, packs in the greatest acting talent ever assembled in a Marvel film and because of this we are treated to some of the best performances in a Marvel movie accompanied by some of the hardest god damn names to write correctly.

Obviously Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo are both excellent but the supporting cast are just as excellent – if not better. Benedict Wong as err… Wong… is brilliantly placed as the hilariously humourless head of the Hong Kong sanctum whilst Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius is instantly one of the Marvel’s best enemies if slightly underutilised.

In my eyes though it’s all about the ladies. Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One was endearing, creepy, captivating and untrustworthy all at the same time. It’s another perfect piece of casting. There has been a lot of negativity over Rachel McAdams’ role as Christine Palmer and yeah, absolutely, more could’ve been done but at the same time she represents the viewer in being on the fringes of an unknown world where things don’t quite make sense.

I’ve neglected the real star of the film though: THAT CLOAK!

Oh man. I have never wanted a cape/cloak more than after watching the film. I won’t say anymore for fear of spoilers but I want one, I want one, I want one.

You should probably also give this a watch for some really interesting CGI. Doctor Strange really packs it in. Freezing time, rewinding time, one-take teleports, kaleidoscope visuals all take second place to a fight scene with Kaecilius that is like watching an M C Escher painting come to life.

It’s a shame that Dormammu was probably the worst of the film’s CGI repertoire because if you Google him he looks like a cool flaming head hell beast but in the film he’s mostly a disembodied cloud with glowy eyes.

I would fully understand if you thought this was a 3 star film but to me it still felt fresh, it was funnier than I was expecting and with such a good cast I think it’s up there with Marvel’s best.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ New Cape-abilities
+ Excellent supporting cast
+ Interesting CGI

– Strange Iron Doctor Man
– Rachel McUnderutilised
– Dormammu


Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Reacher Round Again!

He’s back! Tom Cruise once again picks up his role as Jack Reacher after that film he was in once. Was it a year ago? No two? It was the one where he… well, he had that bit at a quarry? Something about a shootout.

Never Go Back is exactly as memorable as the first Jack Reacher film thanks to an extraordinarily obvious plot that is a re-treading of almost every other action/espionage film.

The plot kicks off with Reacher having the worst blind date after arranging to meet Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) at the military HQ only to find the butch and grizzled Colonel Morgan (Holt McCallany) sat in her place. Turns out that Susan has been arrested for espionage. Something doesn’t add up so Reacher goes rogue to prove her innocence.

Insert government conspiracies, inside jobs, the threatening of loved ones, hiring of trained killers and enemies becoming friends. It’s all there. If this was a Friday night a Gala you would have shouted Bingo by now.

You know those times where you plan a meal, you spend ages prepping/cooking and it’s all going perfect. Then you realise the potatoes aren’t done, the gravy is bland as Jeremy Corbyn and now the meat is turning leathery. All the ingredients and the enthusiasm were there but it just didn’t come together.

One of the key ingredients is of course Tom Cruise who can still draw in punters with ease – including me obviously – but this is to the detriment of the film because this is Tom Cruise playing Tom Cruise in “The Tom Cruise show: starring Tom Cruise”. All other actors are sidelined.

Most notably is Coby Smulders which is a shame because she has a number of key, powerful moments. At one point she lays into Reacher, poignantly reminding him that not only is she “not just a woman” but she is the victim here. If anyone, ANYONE, wants to take down those responsible for her incarceration then it is undoubtedly her.

She says that… then let’s Tom Cruise continue on a solo mission to end the film by himself and literally fuck all to help. Couldn’t have been that important then, right?!

Mix in Samantha (Danika Yarosh) as Reacher’s is-she-isn’t-she my daughter and there is certainly potential to expose Reacher as a vulnerable and lonely male and one that has more than two dimensions: punching people and shooting people.

I actually found Yarosh incredibly irritating to start off with but the more her story of a  young, isolated girl from a broken home is drip fed to the audience the more important her role becomes.

Make no mistake though; no-one is going to outshine Tom Cruise in his second Reacher round. If you find him as enjoyable as smearing jam on your junk and hanging out around wasps nests then obviously avoid this like the plague. If you can’t help but succumb to his natural on-screen charisma then sure; give it a watch… even if there is literally nothing new to see here.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ The plot has potential
+ Danika Yarosh
+ It’s still a Tom Cruise film!?

– Generic action
– It’s the Tom Cruise show
– Nothing you haven’t seen before


The Magnificent Seven

Unlucky For Some

I tend to dislike a lot of things that other people seem to love. The Apprentice? That programme is just a shameless re-skinning of Big Brother filled with egotistical ball bags. They don’t even get a job now. They just get given 20k, told to fuck off and never to speak to Lord Sugar-tits again.

Then again, I like a lot of things that other people hate like blue cheese – how could you not like sweaty mouldy cheese slopping around your taste-buds?! Perhaps that’s why I like The Magnificent Seven even though it’s not a brilliant film.

I guess I’ve never felt at home with whatever “normality” is so I tend to gravitate to films that feature characters that don’t seem to fit in and especially ones that are self-aware about it.

If you don’t know, The Magnificent Seven is based on a remake of a re-imagining of Seven Samurai which is not just one of my favourite films but one of the best ever made. Don’t take my word for it – it’s currently number 19 on IMDB’s top 250 films.

What made this 1950’s black and white Japanese language film so incredible was partly its incredible cinematography but more importantly its almost unparalleled characterisation of each of the 7 characters, even by today’s standards.

I was really pleased to see this was a key focus in this latest offering. You only need to see the star power thrown at the film to know this is true with Denzel Washington being the effortlessly cool and focused bounty hunter Chisolm and flavour of the month Chris Pratt playing the mischievous gambler Josh Faraday.

Admittedly, making each of the main characters different nationalities is an easy way to differentiate your main cast but they work really well together whether it be Red Indian scalp hunter Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and the disavowed Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) or Civil War vet  and sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his mysterious, badass, east asian protector Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee).

The film even manages to portray a vile and threatening villain in Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) which is a welcome break from some recent lacklustre offerings from the Superhero genre.

The rest of the film however is middling to bad and the main culprit  is the lack of any quality writing which is ironically the problem with my blog too. Much of the dialogue is only there to push forward the story and is at times clichéd and obvious so treat this like every Christmas day after the age of 21 and don’t expect any surprises!

Haley Bennett is the only female character of note and plays the maiden in distress who initiates the help of the magnificent seven but is offered precious little screen time even though she has been well trained with a rifle and could have easily have been worked in as a replacement or addition to the one of the seven.

The action scenes at times try to feel gritty and traumatic but the need to appeal all creatures great and small by getting that juicy 12a rating means it has to pull its punches and therefore has a weird disconnect between scenes of humour, futility and devastation. Scenes that are so much more saccharine in Seven Samurai.

Yet for the same reason there is an over-riding joyousness to much of the film making incredibly fun to watch even if it’s technically not a great film but again don’t trust me I’m not normal.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Characters
+ It’s fun!
+ The Bogue-y man

– Poor dialogue
– Haley Bennett under-utilised
– Could have been grittier


Suicide Squad

The Best of the Worst

Suicide Squad. If you listen to some DC super fans this was an incredible achievement that is only paralleled by unicorns shooting rainbows out of their horn and pooping skittles. On the other hand if you listen to a lot of critics they will claim it’s an affront on film as a medium and something that is so bad that your eyes will crust over and your brain will dissolve and leak out of your ear.

In reality it’s somewhere between the two. There are absolutely worse films than this. There are absolutely worse superhero films than this. You only have to re-wind a few months to the drab BVS or a few months further to have the Fantastic Four confirm this.

Suicide squad is structured a bit like Craptastic Four in that it starts quite strongly but then gives up half way through, hides at the bottom of a well and gently sobs itself to sleep.

The initial recruitment montage is pretty good. It holds that fun, fast paced bubblegum hyper-violence that the trailers promised and apart from a rather awkward and forced cameo from the Bat it’s exactly the sort of thing we were looking for.

Very quickly we are introduced to the best of the worst of humanity and characters that you’ve probably never heard of unless you read DC’s fiction. Diablo (Jay Hernandez)? Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney)? How about the commander in chief Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) anyone? No?!

These quick introductions are great because it provides a surprisingly good basis from which to build the characters whilst keeping it fun and fresh. However, equal screen time and story is given to everyone and as a result exactly none of our anti-heroes ever truly feel whole. In fact those who do get less screen time such as Katana (Karen Fukuhara) feel as deep as a PowerPoint presentation. “Name: Katana. Japanese. She traps souls in her sword and cries. This graph shows our cumulative growth patterns and here’s a motivational quote.”

On the flip side is Deadshot (Will Smith) who is incredibly likeable and how could he not be? This is the most “Will Smith” performance from Will Smith in a long time.

Thankfully it’s not overpowering. This isn’t Will Smith and a bunch of other losers because we also have Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) who is almost certainly the best thing in the movie.

Not only because of her skimpy outfits, but man… them outfits!

Harley Quinn injects fun into the film even when it’s plummets into a pool of sewage towards the end. I just wish that her loud and kooky attitude was included as part of the squads background noise and not just that the comic-relief countdown timer has hit zero.

This is symptomatic of a film not really knowing what it wants to be. Guardians of the Galaxy had an unlikely cool team spirit but then again it should be grim and grizzly like BvS but then again… Deadpool was great. “Add in some comedy… and whilst you are at it you may as well add a world threatening enemy. X-Men did.”

Towards the end of the film the script needed to be tightened, the slow mo needed to be removed and most importantly the villain needed to be low-key, not all powerful. Strong enough to need superheroes but not powerful enough to need Batman and company. A perfect excuse to put the leashes on the squad and give them an introductory test run.

Instead, we get Enchantress (Cara Delavinge). The worst, overpowered, super villain who is defeated too easily ever depicted on film. She is a bullet proof, belly dancing, young/old smoke lady spirit thing with a swooshy whirlpool of death who can turn anyone (except the suicide squad apparently?!) into half granite, half blackberry people. And why? Because fuck you that’s why! Brilliant. Cheers for the explanation Warner Bros.

Suicide Squad is, however, worth a watch. Just set your expectations accordingly. I did, and when I left the cinema I felt entertained enough to not be disappointed. I am very much looking forward to a solo Harley Quinn film yet at the same time sceptical of any future DC film.

Has the DCEU thrown itself off a bridge? Not quite, but it is starting to feel like it’s hanging by a thread.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Will Smith
+ Cool recruitment montage
+ Harley Quinn

– Abysmal villain
– Some terrible scripting
– Doesn’t know what it want’s to be


Jason Bourne

One Hundred Bourne Every Minute

Did I fall asleep and somehow wake up in the late 90’s? No? Well then I must have missed the memo saying that the whole shaky camera and epilepsy inducing editing was back in vogue because I thought we collectively agreed that style of film making was a bad fucking idea.

I can’t deny that there is something incredibly visceral and brutal about this style of film-making but it’s all in the imagination. There’s no way your brain can fully keep up with a hundred cuts per minute or make sense of what you are seeing so you fill in the gaps.

I realise I sound like your 90 year old neighbour complaining about your hippety-hop music but it’s not just me. I heard at least two or three other people leaving the cinema sharing the same sentiment: yeah it’s good but I couldn’t get on with all the shaky camera stuff.

If for some reason you actually like watching films in the middle of a tornado then you might really like Jason Bourne – especially if you liked the other films.

Don’t be turned off if you haven’t seen the previous films though because Jason Bourne seeds just enough flashbacks for anyone to follow the story without being too obtrusive. It’s a perfectly good place for newcomers to join the series.

That said Jason Bourne doesn’t really do very much at all to progress the story with the general plot being along the lines of “oh, Bourne has resurfaced and he still knows too much”. In fact some of the scripting is almost that generic as well with many of the main characters talking in pseudo-spy. A key example of this is another government agent like Bourne (Matt Damon) who is simply called “Agent”. How stupid would it be to have a dog called “Dog”? Fuck it, from now on just call me “Nickname”.

Thankfully; Agent (Vincent Cassel) is a greater than his alias suggests. He is essentially a grittier and more remorseless version of Bourne with Cassel playing the character with laser focus.

It’s not just Cassel who produces an excellent performance. Alicia Vikander is excellent as ever in her role as Heather Lee a young, determined member of the CIA who is determined to prove herself and rise through the ranks underneath the Director of the CIA Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). It’s a bit of a weird pairing but the constant power struggles between these two frenemies is often more interesting than the on-screen action which has historically been Bourne’s strong point.

Overall this really does feel like another well produced and (mostly) well written film from Paul Greengrass. It has the right ratio of political intrigue, action and drama but it really does suffer from very convenient espionage, the action being filmed inside an earthquake simulator and death by a thousand cuts.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Remorseless Villain
+ You don’t need to see the previous films
+ Alicia Vikander

– Too many edits per minute
– (Un)Steadycam work
– Generic spy film dialogue


Star Trek Beyond

Team Me Up Scotty

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away was a completely different franchise.

I don’t mean that to be some sort of self-ironic play on intergalactic movie series, what I actually mean is Star Trek Beyond is almost unrecognisable from Star Trek: Into Darkness and if it wasn’t for Captain Kirk and Spock you would be forgiven for thinking they were two different franchises.

If you are one of those people who hated the second film then you’ll love Star Trek Beyond. If, like me, you are one of those emotionally inept morons who actually really liked Star Trek: Into Darkness then good news! you’ll still really like this film.

Beyond is a solid film. As solid as the USS Enterprise. Actually, scrap that. The Enterprise gets torn open quicker and easier than a pack of Jelly Belly jelly beans in the hands of a fat kid in one of the films most visually stunning and exciting scenes that sets the tone for the rest of the film: it’s big, it’s fun, it’s what a big budget Star Trek film should be.

The destruction of the Enterprise comes at the hands of Krall (Idris Elba) who is a bit of a mixed bag. As a villain Krall is fantastic. Menacing, unforgiving and relentless. As a character he’s about as interesting as an insurance salesman because his motives and history simply don’t match up to his intent.

Krall isn’t the only disappointing character. There is too much screen-time for Scotty (Simon Pegg) who is best utilised as an exclamation mark – the odd moment of comic relief.

It’s quite funny that the script was written by Simon Pegg because I wonder how much he wrote himself in the film: a few extra lines here a bump of the paycheck there and voila!

The problem is that Scotty isn’t the enigmatic character that the camera really wants to linger on. Previously that accolade would have gone to captain Kirk (Chris Pine) or Bones (Karl Urban) but in Star Trek Beyond it’s all about Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who is a new addition to our intrepid band of explorers.

What I loved about Jaylah is not only her instantly recognisable look that wouldn’t be out of place in a Star Wars film but also her rebellious streak which cuts right through the crew’s often stuffy dynamic yet is somehow complimentary at the same time. I would love to see her being a recurring character.

Director Justin Lin – famous for not much more than some of the Fast & Furious films – has clearly tried to bring more of a team dynamic to this latest adventure making it more than just the Kirk and Spock show. Whilst it’s not perfect it’s better than the tributes that are paid to Anton Yelchin and more specifically to Leonard Nimoy.

Ironically; Nimoy’s tribute is only marginally better than Fast & Furious’ tribute to Paul Walker because it has all the subtlety of an American on holiday. But don’t be put off by that because there is still a lot of other worthwhile things to see.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Visually impressive
+ Jaylah
+ Great team dynamic

– Krall’s back story
– Too much Simon Pegg
– Tributes