Film Review: Coriolanus

Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus is a modern-day adaptation of the Shakespeare’s play using the Bard’s original language. The film is skillfully produced but unfortunately rather dull.

Caius Martius is a respected member of the Roman army, well known for his bravery. Succeeding on his most recent mission to defend Rome from the Volscian uprising, the soldier is bestowed with the name Coriolanus and encouraged to run for consul. Angering the populace and with politicians as enemies, Coriolanus is in for a rough ride…

Coriolanus is a solid debut from Fiennes. Notwithstanding, there is a major problem with the film in that it can be a little boring at times. It feels too drawn out as a whole to hold one’s attention for the entire duration. While the battle scenes are frenetic, some of the dialogue-heavy scenes are far too prolonged. There are sine good scenes, such as the crowd polling one, but others go on for too long and slacken the entire film’s momentum.

The contemporary setting of Coriolanus works well, although it is unusual and unintentionally humorous to hear news reader Jon Snow speak in Shakespearean verse. Some of the issues covered by the film, such as the duty of public servants, are very pertinent for modern audiences. The battle scenes are full throttle, with Barry Ackroyd’s cinematography reminiscent of his work in The Hurt Locker.

Ralph Fiennes delivers a powerhouse performance in the title role. Excellent support is provided by Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox. Jessica Chastain is also decent as ever, but underused in her minor role.

In one way, it was a wise move to adapt Coriolanus; unlike a lot of Shakespeare’s work, not all will be familiar with it. There is an element of unpredictability which is missing from adaptations of the Bard’s more famous works. Nevertheless, Coriolanus is not the most interesting of stories as not an awful lot happens in the two-hour running time.

Coriolanus is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.

Coriolanus Trailer

Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus is due for release on 20th January 2012. I saw footage from the film at Empire Big Screen, and it looks pretty interesting. Although Shakespearean dialogue in the modern day has been done before (1997’s Romeo + Juliet for example), it still appears a little unusual. Nonetheless, it is refreshing that Fiennes has chosen to adapt one of Shakespeare’s lesser know works. I for one will have no idea how the narrative will pan out. The film stars Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Cox.

Film Review: Red

Bruce Willis proves he is still a bona fide hero in this enjoyable action romp. Red provides enough high-octane sequences and amusing interactions to entertain throughout, but there is nothing that hasn’t been done before.

Retired CIA agent Frank Moses is enjoying his free time when he is the target of an assassination attempt. Moses decides to track down his own team to discover who is out to get him. As the group are attacked, they prove they can still hold their own, despite their advancing years…

Red keeps a steady pace; there is never a real lull in proceedings. There is nothing remarkable about the film, however. Robert Schwentke’s movie features actions and explosions, humorous banter, and the obligatory love story. None of this is particularly original; the action scenes are reminiscent of numerous films in the genre, and the humour seems to hinge almost entirely on the age of the protagonists.

Bruce Willis calls in his performance; there is nothing showcased in Red that we haven’t seen from him before. In the actors defense, however, the script does not really call for him to be stretched. Frank Moses is typical of many of the characters Willis has played before; a tough guy that overcomes despite being outnumbered, and protects those he cares about. In this case, his love interest is Mary-Louise Parker’s Sarah, who provides humour as the unwitting civilian caught up in the action because of her association with Moses.

John Malkovich is great as Marvin, Moses’ paranoid former colleague. His eccentricity is the perfect antidote for the conventional action hero Moses. Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren add some weight to the action, with Mirren playing up the refined English lady persona with her choice of vocation. Elsewhere, Brian Cox gives a robust performance as Russian agent Ivan, adding lightness to some of the film’s more tense moments.

Red‘s action set pieces are slick, and combine well with the thumping sound to produce enjoyable spectacles. The film is rated 12A, and most of the violence is in keeping with this certification. Nevertheless, Red features images of humans exploding. Although these shots are more cartoon-like than realistic, they may be quite shocking for younger viewers.

Red is an entertaining affair, but ultimately disappoints with its lack of imagination. Enjoyable enough, but not indelible in the slightest.