Film Review: 4.3.2.1

07/06/2010

Writer and Co-Director Noel Clarke delivers up another teen drama with a gritty urban backdrop. 4.3.2.1 takes the some of the action transatlantic, however, and posits four female protagonists at the centre of the narrative.

4.3.2.1 tells the story of each of the four friends, after a chance encounter with a group of diamond thieves.  Taking place over an eventful three days, each of the girls find themselves in unusual circumstances…

Noel Clarke probably sees his film as offering a positive depiction of four strong female characters. Whilst this is in part true, it is largely undermined by the voyeuristic views offered of these young ladies. So on the one hand they are portrayed as heroines of female empowerment, but on the other, they are attractive young females so they are shown parading around in skimpy underwear. Girl Power then, but only to a certain extent.

Barely any of the numerous side characters in this ensemble cast are depicted in a positive light. The message seems to be trust only your friends; a pessimistic but perhaps understandable proclamation in this day and age.

The varied cast comprises of British unknowns, more familiar faces from British television, and a handful of American stars; Emma Roberts, Eve and Kevin Smith, for example. Overall, the cast performs well, accurately conveying the authenticity of Clarke’s London-derived dialogue.

Location is a pretty important element of the film, and the production design and cinematography work well to offer gritty imagery of working-class London, a world away from the glitzy Times Square that is visited.

Clarke has done a good job in mixing the danger and energy of a crime caper with the angst of a teen drama. Whilst 4.3.2.1 is entertaining, it falls short in its contradictory depictions of the female leads.

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Film Review: Cop Out

24/05/2010

Reviews of Cop Out have been mediocre overall. By no means a classic, nonetheless, Cop Out is not as bad as the reviews suggest either.

Jimmy and Paul, two NYPD detectives, happen upon a Brooklyn drug ring after Jimmy’s prized baseball card is stolen. A simple mission to recover the card by the duo becomes much more complicated after they discover more than they were expecting…

 The fundamental problem with Cop Out is that the film is not as funny as you’d hope it would be. While there is humour, it is not as consistent as one would expect from a movie directed by Kevin Smith and starring Tracey Morgan.

The pairing of Morgan with Bruce Willis works well; with Willis playing the straight man to Morgan’s funny guy. Elsewhere Seann William Scott plays an annoying but genial thief. Although Scott does well in these side character roles, it will be interesting to see whether he will eventually break out of the archetype Stifler mould.

Smith continues with his cinematic-referencing preoccupation in Cop Out, in an overt and sometimes humorous manner. In a sense, Cop Out is a film about wanting to be cops, in a brashy, television/film way. This is most evident through the detectives played by Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody; two back office cops who jeer at Jimmy and Paul, but long to do the dangerous, action hero thing themselves.

Cop Out does not do anything to redefine the buddy cop genre, but it is unlikely the film intended to. Instead it serves as a fun addition to the genre. A few more laughs would have been welcome, though.