Category Archives: Thriller

Split

Brand New, Old School

I find it interesting that M. Night Shyamalan films have shouted incredibly loudly that HE is the director. He has become the label, the brand, of his own films.

Thanks to the success of the Sixth Sense his brand recognition rapidly increased with Shamalangadingdong’s name featured prominently on every trailer since Unbreakable. Yet, whilst this was happening the brand quality took an equally dramatic turn in the opposite direction.

Let’s face it, he has pumped out some crap films. After Earth? Give me a fucking break? The brand became toxic. The brand is Mega Bloks or U2.

Now I didn’t see The Visit – I’ve been assured it’s not total crap so that’s a start! – but Split is a very real attempt to get back to basics by making a decent film rather than rely on branding to sell pond slime dressed up as nutritious wheatgrass.

The trailer still features the brand name but doesn’t dominated it. The budget is much lower than some of his more recent projects and that only works in Split’s favour.

Split is not a horror movie. There are no jump scares. It’s a thriller and as a non-horror fan that was errr… thrilling because we are treated to a film that tries to build a solid plot, steady character progression and decent acting instead of a singular clutch moment: “AHA! The village is an experiment!”. No-one cares.

The trailer shows three girls are kidnapped by Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy); a man with multiple personality disorder. Crumb has a whopping 23 different personalities and some of his personalities are preparing the girls to be offered to  the suppressed 24th personality known as “The Beast”.

Split cleverly focuses on only a few personalities allowing the viewer to analyse, identify and even connect to them yet we still get fun glimpses of the others.

James McAvoy is clearly loving every minute and gives him an excuse to display the range of his abilities. It’s the little character traits that make it all so believable and without McAvoy this film would lose much of its appeal.

The reason for this is that the scripting and the acting of Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy), Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula) are at best acceptable.

There is also a sub plot of one of the personalities liking young girls and forces the trio to remove clothing. A couple of lingering shots of cleavage and mid-rift seemed unnecessary and uncomfortable to watch and come in place of any genuine feeling of threat to the safety of the girls.

Still, those moments are fleeting in what is genuinely an intriguing concept. The fact that one personality might be diabetic and another might need glasses suggests that the brain can change the physiology of a person, essentially making them superhuman.

The biggest takeaway though is that the film is old school Shyamalan and thanks to that it manages to breath new life into the brand.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ It’s an M. Night Shyamalan film that’s not shit!!!
+ James McAvoy clearly having fun
+ Interesting concept

Side note: Pay close attention to the end scene!

– The girls
– Some questionable cinematography
– Doesn’t feel threatening enough

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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

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Midnight Special

Zero Hour

……………Sometimes it’s better to go into a film completely blind. These films tend to keep their trailers deliberately ambiguous. 10 Cloverfield Lane is an excellent example of this. Obviously the downside is that you are never sure if the film will be any good.

……….Whilst the trailer for Midnight Special reveals quite a lot about the film it’s still remarkably vague, leaving the viewer to peer into the unknown. It’s a method of building intrigue and suspense and Midnight Special is desperate to prove it can do this.

…..If you are wondering why each sentence starts with a long pause it’s because I’m mocking every line of dialogue in the film. Mock may be the wrong choice of word because the scripting is totally acceptable I just wish each line didn’t start with [dramatic pause].

The story follows Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) who is a special child – and not like “oh he is one of god’s special children” – as some believe him to be a saviour and some a destroyer. Father Roy (Michael Shannon) and friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) kidnap Alton in order to bring him to a mysterious location. 

Dramatic pauses serve the early parts of the film well by drawing out the question of who or what Alton is, how his ‘ability’ has put him on an FBI list, who is telling the truth and who knows what exactly?

When you start to piece together what is going on this becomes very quickly irritating as plain time wasting. Get on with it. Say your fucking lines!

The more I watched the more I wanted the film to cut to the chase the more detached I got from the characters and therefore ended up being not quite as gripping and intense as it probably should have been.

It’s also problematic because the film briefly touches upon a fascinating concept that would have been brilliant to explore further but it simply doesn’t have the time to do this. So rather than theorising about what could be a revolutionary cultural phenomenon it is like the end of the 10 o’clock news: “and finally, in other news…”.

To it’s credit though it is well acted and the slow pacing allows a degree of thinking time  for both players and onlookers alike that is missing from a lot of Hollywood films.

In fact, whilst it has the slick production of a Hollywood film there is very little in the way of glamorising the main cast which keeps it feeling ground in reality if not quite gritty.

Midnight Special could have been a really great thriller that holds eye-opening concepts – a zero hour for humanity if you will – but this aspect of the film is barely visible. It’s a shame that it’s also the most special part of it.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Starts well
+ Interesting theme
+ Well grounded


– Dramatic pauses [dramatic pause] everywhere!
– Theme not explored enough
– Less gripping as it progresses

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10 Cloverfield Lane

All Clover Again

In 2008 Matt Reeves directed a relatively low budget monster movie called Cloverfield. It was like Godzilla and The Blair Witch Project had a baby which sounds weird but it quickly became a cult classic thanks to this unique blend of genres. I suppose it helped that 2008 was before found footage was as played out as auto-tuning pop songs for audio ‘style’.

Cloverfield was a well packaged film, giving you only rare glimpses of the monster only to reveal it’s true nature at the end of the film. This is how the best horror films tends to work. The thing is though; we have seen the monster now so the mystery is gone. How then do you make a sequel without making it Pacific Clover Rim-field?

Well that’s simple. You get different people to write the film, you change the director, remove that shaky camera nonsense, you don’t set it in a city, keep exactly none of the original actors, get rid of the original monster and having the new title as the only reference to the original.

10 Cloverfield Lane is not in fact a sequel; it’s a spiritual successor. It’s important to set expectations here because it is very different to the original Cloverfield. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a psychological thriller more than a horror, monster or disaster film but it’s also important to go in knowing as little as possible so this will be 100% spoiler free.

The set up is simple. Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is running from her problems and in the process is involved in a car accident. She wakes to find she has been apparently kidnapped by Howard (John Goodman) but it’s not that simple because something has apparently happened to the outside world. Russian invasion? An atomic bomb? Chemical weapons? Aliens? Who knows, perhaps the apes have finally risen or One Direction fans are running riot. Terrifying.

So Michelle is holed up in a bunker along with Howard and, to her surprise, a local called Emmett (John Gallagher Jr). The film follows Michelle trying to make sense of the situation.

The majority of the film is set in the confines of the bunker so it is reliant on the script to take most of the strain. Writers Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken have done a fantastic job in this respect. They have managed to find a delicate balance between developing the characters and to keep you guessing what the hell is going on.

Of course any good script is also dependent on its delivery and all three of the actors excel in this regards but it’s Goodman who stands above all. This is easily one o the best performances of his career. He effortlessly flirts between a begrudging host, a strict ex-military serviceman, an under-appreciated good samaritan, threatening patriarch and oddball, end of the world conspiracy theorist.

I think the film should have ended with  the words “Oh come on!” and that’s about the only complaint I can go into without spoiling what is otherwise a finely crafted thriller.

Whilst the film holds very little in common with the first Cloverfield it does capture a similar feeling of mystery and intrigue. It’s definitely worth a watch but try not to read too much into it before you see it.

 

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ John Goodman’s performance
+ Keeps you guessing


– Ending is too drawn out
– Err… Other stuff

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Triple 9

Triple OK

Remember the Ridley Scott version of Robin Hood? It had everything; great visuals, great cast, great costume design, great everything except… it was a bit shit.

If you were to believe the recent adverts on TV you would believe that this is a 21st century classic and like Robin Hood it does have a lot going for it but Triple 9 falls into mediocrity similar to Scott’s 2010 retelling.

One thing it does have going for it is a great cast. I think Anthony Mackie is excellent and have done so ever since I first saw the Adjustment Bureau and Triple 9 only solidifies that belief. You then have Chiwetel Ejiofor who was deservedly Oscar nominated for being whipped for 2 straight hours in 12 Years A Slave.

This is enough to fill a movie in its own right but Triple 9 also has to squeeze in Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame, Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead fame, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet… oh and Gal Gadot.

It sounds easier to squeeze Bigfoot into a tutu rather than give each of the above relevant screen time but Triple 9 balances each cast member adequately by firmly and wisely relegating some of the cast to supporting roles.

With the exception of Gal Gadot who is purely there to wear skimpy outfits and make male audience members revert into stupid one-dimensional cave men (not that I sat I sat there thinking “duurrghh. Woman. Hot!”… honest!?) none of the above cast ever feels left out. However, there are still a lot of characters who need back stories and motivations fleshed out and there simply isn’t enough room to do this.

The most obvious is Kate Winslet who plays the wife of a mob boss who pulls strings but we never find out who she is, to what extent she is involved, how she met the others, why she is pulling strings, who the mob boss is and how powerful or important is he.

Thankfully you don’t feel let down by the story but it’s just not as good as its cast and therefore has to rely on the film’s style to pull it through. In this respect it’s clear that director John Hillcoat has taken inspiration from various sources but this leaves a slightly incoherent vision of what the film is trying to be.

The moment you see Affleck and Mackie in a car it is hard not to think of Training Day. Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus play incredibly similar characters to their infamous TV counterparts. When someone dies you get the nostalgia for Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and the plot seems to unfold similar to the likes of Taken.

That said, it is a well produced film. It contains enough plot twists and action to keep you entertained even through moments of deja-vu. If Triple 9 had kept its storyline a bit more concise and paid a bit more attention to why things were happening then it might have been the modern classic the adverts proclaim it to be.

As it is; the story is just OK, its style is just OK and its use of a great cast is ultimately just OK. In other words it’s triple average.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Great cast
+ Decent production
+ Entertaining enough


– Overall vibe feels confused
– Plot not fleshed out well enough
– Could be more concise

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The Revenant

Bear Skills!

Let’s get right to the point. The Revenant is two and a half hours of Leonardo DiCaprio being cruelly knocked down then pulling together all his strength an ingenuity to get his hands on that Oscar for best actor.

Even the title suggests Leo’s march towards Oscar stardom as The Revenant means: Someone who has returned to Oscar nominations… OK, I might have added a few words.

From start to finish this film can be best described as torture porn because the plot is incredibly simple: Red Indians attack a troupe of frontiersmen working for a fur/pelt trading company. During the escape Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) gets attacked by a bear, then his colleague John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), then the cold, then, then, then.

If death by a thousand cuts means lots of small bad things happening then The Revenant needs it’s own saying. Maybe: death by a thousand Mike Tyson’s wearing sharks instead of boxing gloves?

The biggest and most shocking of these cuts is the bear scene that you briefly see in the trailer. Unlike the trailer though this scene goes on for at least ten, unflinching, brutal, jaw-dropping minutes.

This scene is really incredible not because only because the effects are incredibly realistic but it also highlights Director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s willingness to put the audience in a state of discomfort which in turn shows a self confidence about the movie’s direction.

That fact that the direction doesn’t waver in it’s depiction of horrifying imagery is invaluable because this is the path that the movie continues on with Leonardo DiCaprio putting in an incredible physical performance, braving freezing water and raw meat in search of his Oscar.

Personally though I found this performance to the detriment of subtlety in what little dialogue he has. In fact I thought DiCaprio was out shined by Tom Hardy; even if his role of Bane has proved an influence due to some semi-inaudible dialogue.

As good as Hardy is within The Revenant the star of the show belongs to the atmosphere that start at volume ten and never really gets turned down. This is thanks in part to the bland yet somehow overbearing soundtrack that rumbles in the background as if danger is just round the corner.

Once this was layered on top of the bleak surroundings, the merciless on-screen brutality and a thoroughly calculated pace I found it a truly captivating experience.

In my opinion the rate at which the film progresses is absolutely necessary to that feeling of dispair that drips from each scene adding a sense of honesty that feels sorely lacking in many a Hollywood film that tends to err on the side of sensationalism after all that shot of someone spilling a drink would look much better with an explosion behind it right!?

That said, I can fully appreciate that the pacing within The Revenant is not going to be everyone’s cup of mead as it is very slow so it’s one of those films that if it grabs you you’ll be hooked but if it doesn’t then you might find it more interesting to fight that grizzly bear yourself.

I’ve not looked into how much of this is based on real events but amazingly it IS based on real events. However true it is, Mr Glass has had one hell of a bad time, thankfully it’s given us a really good time, that is if you like seeing people desperate for Oscars!

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ That bear scene!
+ Brutal, honest, graphic
+ Tom Hardy
+ DiCaprio’s acting


– Too slow for some
– DiCaprio’s acting!?

 

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The Gift

Personal Space Invaders


The Gift is one of those films that is easily slept on. I’m sure lots of people haven’t heard of it and those who have probably weren’t trembling with anticipation for the film.

Like the 2011 film Limitless this is a surprisingly good film. It holds a lot more depth and subtlety than the trailer would have you believe. More importantly it has something that is notoriously rare: a stunning ending.

The best way to see this film is without knowing much about it which makes my job here super difficult. I need to convince you that this film is (nearly) a must see film whilst telling you as little as possible.

The film’s plot is simple. Simon (Jason Bateman) and his wife Robyn (Rebecca Hall) moves in close proximity to his old childhood home where he happens to bump into ‘Gordo’ (Joel Edgerton); an old school acquaintance of Simon’s. Gordo quickly becomes a bit too forcefully friendly verging on stalker-ish. Why? Well there is some buried history between the two… That’s all I’ll say.

If you watch th… No. When you watch this be sure to stick with it because it’s a slow burn. The film is all too happy to build up with only gentle, rolling, ebbs and flows. Tense scenes within the new house do just enough to keep your interest and the slow build up of animosity between Gordo and the new residents will routinely pique your intrigue with these characters.

In this respect I found it had a similar vibe to this year’s excellent Ex Machina. At some point this slow build up seems to stop and settle into an overly tidy and subsequently disappointing conclusion. It’s only later you realise this tepid section of the film is used for a higher purpose: to emphasise one of the most striking endings you have seen in a film.

Not only is the ending powerful and unerving but it holds such a simple concept that it buries itself deep under your skin.

Only because of the ending did everyone, and I mean everyone, exit the screening vocalising how good the film was, how creepy the ending was, how it was not like what they were expecting but in a good way.

There’s not a lot to dislike about The Gift. If might be a little but slow for some people but it’s beautifully scripted, shot and edited.

The only minor complaint I can come up with is that the characters are more complicated than you first imagine yet there is little evidence of this throughout the film to support this. Adding a few subtle hints throughout would allow minds to wander, trying to guess what’s going to happen and attempting to fill in the blanks. That’s part of the fun with a thriller, right?

If I was to be picky, and seeing as how I’m writing this I guess I am, I’m not sure Jason Bateman was the right person for the role of Simon. His performance was perfectly fine but his face doesn’t fully fit his on screen persona just like my face doesn’t fit a clean shave!

The whole film has that uneasy and eerie vibe like Gone Girl which should be compliment enough for you to go see The Gift. When you realise this was written and directed by Joel Edgerton (Gordo) as one of his first films it’s a shame that more people aren’t getting up close and personal with this film.

Go See

  • Worth it for the ending
  • Decent build up
  • Technically solid

Avoid

  • Too slow for some
  • Doesn’t feed you enough clues
  • Bateman mis-cast perhaps

Overall

4-stars

Nightcrawler

Creepy Crawlings

Jake Gyllenhal is a good looking dude right? I could be wrong – my girlfriend certain’t doesn’t think he is – but he’s not unattractive, perhaps that’s a better way of putting it. In this film however he looks properly creepy. He looks a little bit like a crack addict doing an impression of Jack Nicholson from The Shining.

It’s for this reason alone that you should see the film. Jake Gyllenhal’s portrayal of Louis Bloom is surely Oscar fodder and the script and production are not far off either.

Louis has this quite unassuming rage that makes him instantly unnerving to watch. Right from the beginning he is identifiable as an out and out sociopath committing minor crimes in order to make a quick buck. If you want to play the lottery you have to make the money to buy a ticket he quickly reminds us.

The most scary part of his character, apart from the way he looks and a tendancy for violence and traits of a kleptomaniac, you know apart from that, is that he is smart. Not only is he smart but he likes learning, which makes him especially dangerous.

It’s early on into the film that he witnesses a car crash where someone from the news is filming the police rescue effort. After learning that he can earn money from filming fatalities he setc about learning good cinematography practices and employing them to his job.

In one such scene we see him moving the victim of a car crash just to get a better shot and in another he is moving pictures on a fridge to juxtapose better next to bullet holes.

Whilst this behaviour is mildly freaky at best it’s when he applies his knowledge to manipulate and control people that the film makes you feel awkward to be watching it. This is all enabled through some fantastic writing which allows Jake to ellocute some great monologues.

This film, as a piece of art, is a must see for anyone interested in the constrcuts of a film but as a piece of entertainment it is going to be hit and miss.

There is a slow pacing to the film which some will find a turn off and there is not really any perceived threat to the main characters so it misses some of the beats that makes other thrillers truly great.

If you like being made to feel awkward when watching a film, or you are into indie/art-house films then I highly recommend this but if you are looking for a palatable slice of movie going then the turtles might still be showing?

Go See

  • Jake’s performance
  • Well written
  • Well produced

Avoid

  • A little slow
  • Not as tense as some thrillers
  • If you don’t like awkward films

Overall

 

4-stars

Gone Girl

Love and Marriage go Together Like a Missing Carriage

Ben Affleck is at h… WAIT!! don’t go!?

Still here? OK. Ben Affleck is at his best when he plays a vulnerable/troubled character as he did in the brilliant Argo or when he plays the loser like he did in Good Will Hunting.

When he is playing almost any other character role, like most people, I find him kind of dull to watch. I mean he doesn’t have the natural smarm that makes me want to punch George Clooney and he doesn’t have the I’m-awesome-and-I-don’t-care style that Robert Downey Junior carries.

In short and without spoilers; Gone Girl is about a girl who is gone. OK, that was dumb. It’s about the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) and is not so much a whodunnit mystery but rather a “did her husband do it” mystery. Ben Affleck is actually a really good casting choice for the role of Amy’s husband Nick and it has to be said; he was very good in Gone Girl, only out-shined by Rosamund Pike.

The reason he is a good casting choice is because the film starts with a smarmy and confident Nick Dunne finding out that his wife Amy is missing, which at first he seems rather unfazed by. At this point you can’t help but find him as annoying as those jeb-ends who take photos with iPads at famous monuments but that suits the character. As the film progresses we learn more about Nick’s life and he becomes more and more of a conflicted character which brings out his best performance and really keeps your attention again suiting the character.

In case you didn’t know the film is based on a book of the same name. Now, I haven’t read… a book… so I can’t tell you how closely it follows the novel but I can tell you to avoid any plot spoilers (don’t worry this review is spoiler free). If you hear someone talking about the film then put your finger in your ears, sing “la la la”, run away and go watch this film for the plot twists because it’s brilliant and ironically one of it’s only minor downfalls.

We actually find out who did it about the half way through the film – thankfully that is not the end of the story by any means. This is undoubtedly one of the high points in the movie but it does means that the next 15-20 minutes fell like a bit of an anti-climax; it’s almost like a mid-season break in TV series.

Then, like a good wine, the film keeps getting better the longer you leave it. We find out more about what makes Amy tick and what makes her explode. Rosamund Pike delivers a full-bodied performance – quite literally in some cases – but these fruity notes give way to a refined ending, which is left frustratingly open making you salivate for more.

A lot of David Fincher’s work holds social statements to decorate his films narrative and Gone Girl is no different. It poses questions around the sanctity of marriage, the interpretation of domestic abuse and it also pokes fun at the fickle nature of shitty talk shows and biased news casts. These social statements are subtle enough so that it doesn’t clutter or over-power the film but adds depth not only to the screenplay but also to the characters on screen.

The only minor criticisms I had were that many of the supporting characters had jarring accents and the editing at the start of the film seems a little ‘choppy’. Others may find the film a bit long at 149 minutes but I never felt bored because once again David Fincher has given us a fantastic film.

Go See

  • Rosamund Pike
  • The twist
  • It’s another fantastic Fincher film… what more do you need to know.

Avoid

  • It’s long
  • It feels like there are 2 endings
  • Some grating accents and acting

Overall

4-5-stars

A Most Wanted Man

Subtle But Unsatisfying

Those of a weak constitution may want to skip the next line or two. So… apparently Philip Seymour Hoffman was difficult to work with on set. #Gasp# I hear you exclaim. “A film actor who is difficult to work with?” I hear you question. “Surely not” I hear you protest.

Well yeah, apparently so. Apart from generally being difficult he liked to drink and smoke continuously on set. Given that he died of an overdose of various drugs, its perhaps not entirely surprising that Hoffman tried to avoid sobriety on set. Now, before you berate me for making assumptions about the man’s preference of libation I have a point so bear with me.

In A Most Wanted Man Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a dour German ‘spy’ who is constantly drinking or smoking. There are lingering scenes of the downtrodden spy supping a single malt or giving a cigarette the Dot Cotton treatment. So the point is, is he acting throughout the film or is he just doing what he likes to do?

It’s unfortunate that he died so recently – that probably reads wrong – because I continued to wonder if I was watching a video diary of a man slowly killing himself. This, of course, overshadowed my interpretation of the film and is something that wouldn’t have happened if hadn’t have passed away or if his on screen character had been jumping around like Jim Carrey walking on hot coals and bees!

If you can look past these parallels then something you might not be able to look past is the accents of most of the actors. It’s strange as I would prefer actors to at least have accents if the film is meant to be set in a different country but in A Most Wanted Man I found the accents surprisingly grating and probably would have preferred either a straight up American accent or even just German with subtitles.

But if you look past all of that you are greeted with a well presented film. The film is well shot and builds a rather bleak but enjoyable atmosphere. The locations within this film stray away from typically Gothic buildings which fits with the overall style of the film. You see Hoffman stars as Günther Bachmann who leads a strictly unofficial counter-terrorist team in Hamburg Germany. Because their activity is of a shady nature the film would loose any sense of realism if the film was littered with pin-sharp images of stunning architectural feats. The wardrobe department have also done a great job to build upon this atmosphere by rooting the characters in the environment they inhabit.

Unfortunately the film is ultimately let down by it’s title as you never get the feeling that the bad guy is a most wanted man but then I guess “A man who would be nice to capture at some point if we get the resources to investigate properly” is a far less snappy title.

The problem runs deeper than just the title though because you never get the feeling that the bad guy is really all that bad you therefore never get that “oh shit!” feeling that any of the main protagonists are ever in any sort of danger like you would in a truly great spy film. Because of this the build up is incredibly slow to the extent that some people will find bordering on the verge of tedium and the pay off rather underwhelming – much like when I tell jokes!

The ending to the film is actually the best bit and is the point where you take notice of how good Philip Seymour Hoffman is as an actor and in this film at least, he was the most wanted man.

Go See

  • Well prudced
  • Decent ending
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman

Avoid

  • Slow, slow, slow
  • Missing the bad part of the bad guy
  • Abrasive accents

Overall

3-stars