Film Review: Cold Pursuit

Director Hans Petter Moland’s thriller Cold Pursuit is sufficiently entertaining but ultimately inconsequential. 

A man of few words, Nels Coxman is a snowplow driver in a small ski town. When his son is killed, Nels sets about finding those responsible, and enacting his revenge…

A remake of the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance (also directed by Moland), Cold Pursuit is a revenge thriller with a simple premise. The narrative does offer a little more than this, with action stirred up between rival gangs and a family strand. Other aspects seem at odds however.

Cold Pursuit’s main problem is the thinly written characters. There is no one to sympathise with. Nels is a stoic protagonist, but his lack of personality means that it is difficult to root for him and become fully engaged with his mission. Viking is a caricature villain, an antagonist befitting a pantomime rather than a thriller. Other characters are given little to do. The film seems to spend time on a few supporting characters to no end, such as the multiple scenes with the police officers that never actually go anywhere. It seems as if they were of more consequence, but this has been edited out. The dark humour works well at times, but film is tonally uneven. The shift from dark comedy to bleak violence and slightly back again is jarring. 

Liam Neeson is not stretched in this role. Neeson has carved out a niche in the genre, with Taken on a Plane (Non-Stop) and Taken on a Train (The Commuter). Cold Pursuit could be Taken in the Snow, if it wasn’t for the darker tone and less punchier action. Tom Bateman hams it up as Viking with a less than convincing accent. Laura Dern is wasted in a minor role.

Cold Pursuit has some good sequences, and holds the attention sufficiently well. Yet the film is very forgettable.

Film Review: The Commuter

Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Commuter is very much a Liam Neeson action thriller. As such it is a bit silly but entertaining throughout.

Michael MacCauley is an insurance salesman who has done the same commute to work for ten years. On his way home one day, he is given an intriguing proposition. Yet things aren’t quite what they seem…

One of the more unexpected genres to emerge in the last ten years is the Liam Neeson movie. The characteristics are clear; Neeson is the gruff antagonist (with the specific set of skills) put in an unlikely but dangerous situation. These films have had varying degrees of success.

The Commuter is director Jaume Collet-Serra’s fourth collaboration with Liam Neeson. And the film does suffer from some of the same issues as its predecessors. Like Non-Stop and Unknown, viewers will have to suspend their disbelief with the increasingly far-fetched narrative. Nevertheless, whilst the incredulity can get tiresome in the earlier collaborations, The Commuter plays on this in an effective manner. The plot offers an interesting premise, which quickly stretches the realms of believability with every twist. Yet as this occurs, Collet-Serra ramps up the action and intensity to keep viewers engaged.

The film delivers an air of mystery with its premise, and protagonist Michael’s search for the mystery passenger. The screenwriters attempt to evoke a Hitchcockian level of suspense, and indeed there are parallels with The Lady Vanishes. Although The Commuter does not quite match the style it emulates, it is still very enjoyable. The dialogue offers lines which can only be tongue-in-cheek. The action is well executed, and the momentum is build effectively. Liam Neeson does his regular gruff action hero schtick. Vera Farmiga is decent in a small role.

Jaume Collet-Serra is clearly growing and improving in the action thriller genre. Whilst The Commuter is at times predictable and silly, it is finely paced and a lot of fun.

Previews: Game Night Trailer, The Post, More!

Lots of cinematic wonder in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Game Night trailer, The Post, Sherlock Gnomes, and more…

Game Night Trailer

Here is the new Game Night trailer. The film is about a group of friends who get together for a game night which becomes a murder mystery party. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Kyle Chandler. Game Night is scheduled for release in cinemas on 4th May 2018.

The Post Trailer

The trailer for The Post exudes quality. The film features a stellar cast and crew, and focuses on team behind the The Washington Post taking a stand for free speech during the Nixon administration. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is written by Josh Singer and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson. The Post is released in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

The Greatest Showman Poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming The Greatest Showman. The musical is all about the spectacle, focusing on the ambition of P.T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman heads the cast, and is joined by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. Featuring music from the Oscar-winning Pasek and Paul (La La Land), The Greatest Showman hits UK screens on 1st January 2018.

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

Sherlock Gnomes is a follow-up to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. The film sees the couple arrive in London and enlist the help of the famous detective to find out who is kidnapping garden gnomes. The adventure comedy features the voices of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Johnny Depp, Maggie Smith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Sherlock Gnomes is set for release next year.

The Commuter Image

Here is a new look at the upcoming action thriller The Commuter. The film stars Liam Neeson as an insurance salesman who is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger before the train reaches its final stop. Neeson is joined by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill. The Commuter arrives in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

Previews: The Commuter Trailer, Tomb Raider, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the brand new The Commuter trailer, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Tomb Raider, and more…

The Commuter Trailer

Here is the brand new The Commuter trailer. The action thriller is about a regular commuter who is forced to find a hidden passenger on his train. The film sees director Jaume Collet-Serra reunite with Liam Neeson following Non-Stop and Unknown. Also starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill, The Commuter launches onto UK screens on 19th January 2018.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Trailer

Here is the new Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle trailer. The film is a new adventure based in the world of Jumanji. The film is about four teenagers who are sucked into the jungle world, and stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is set for release on 20th December 2017.

Tomb Raider Trailer

This is the trailer for the new Tomb Raider film, a reboot of the game-set series which starred Angelina Jolie in the early 2000s. Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft, and the film focuses on the character at the beginning of her career. Also starring Dominic West and Walton Goggins, Tomb Raider is scheduled for release in March 2018.

The Glass Castle Clip

Above is a clip from The Glass Castle. The film is based on the memoirs of Jeannette Walls, focussing on her relationship with her unconventional father. Starring Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, The Glass Castle is out in cinemas on 6th October 2017.

Better Watch Out Trailer

This looks like a lot of fun. Better Watch Out is a Christmas time-set horror comedy about a babysitter who must defend her tween charges from an intruder. The film looks like it has all the ingredients of an entertaining movie, from the trailer above at least. Starring Levi Miller and Olivia DeJonge, Better Watch Out hits UK screens on 8th December 2017.

The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Poster

I was non-plussed about The LEGO NINJAGO Movie but this cat is making it much more appealing. The third LEGO movie, this film is about a group of secret ninja warriors. Featuring the voices of Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, and Justin Theroux, The LEGO NINJAGO Movie is out in UK cinemas on 13th October 2017.

Previews: Patriots Day Featurette, Rogue One, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a Patriots Day featurette, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Silence, and more…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Featurette

Here is Diego Luna talking about working on the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Luna plays Cassian Andor, a Rebel Alliance officer. The Star Wars spin-off features a stellar cast, including Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, and Forest Whitaker. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story hits UK screens on 15th December 2016.

Patriots Day Featurette

This Patriots Day featurette focuses on J.K. Simmons and the character he plays in the film. Patriots Day is an account of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the aftermath that followed. Also starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, and Kevin Bacon, Patriots Day is set for release in 2017.

Silence Poster

Silence Poster

Martin Scorsese’s latest film Silence revisits some of the themes prevalent in his earlier pictures. Starring Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as Jesuits priests who visit Japan to locate their mentor. Also starring Liam Neeson and Ciarán Hinds, Silence will hit UK screens on 1st January 2017.

Fences Trailer

Here is the second trailer for Denzel Washington’s Fences. This one reveals a little more about the plot and the main characters than the first look at the film. Based on August Wilson’s award-winning play, the film also stars Viola Davis and Jovan Adepo. Fences will be released in selected UK cinemas on 10th February 2017, and everywhere from 17th February.

 

Passengers Clip

Here is a brief clip from the upcoming Passengers, which showcases the special effects that the film offers. Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, the film is about two passengers on a voyage to a new colony who wake up early in space. Passengers jets into UK cinemas on 21st December 2016.

Power Rangers Image

alpha 5 Power Rangers

Here is the first look at Alpha 5 from the upcoming Power Rangers movie. As with other images released from the film, the character looks pretty different from the 1990s TV show.  Alpha 5 is voiced by Bill Hader in the film. Also starring Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston, Power Rangers is scheduled for release on UK screens in 2017.

Hidden Figures Clip

Here is a brief clip from Hidden Figures. It is based on the true story of a group of black women who worked at NASA during the space race of the 1960s. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, and Kevin Costner. Hidden Figures is out in UK cinemas in February 2017.

Film Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls is an emotional fantasy drama. It is a film about storytelling, and it is wonderfully crafted.

Conor is struggling to deal with his mother’s illness, whilst having a tough time at school. When a monster comes to visit him just after midnight, hoping to teach Connor the truth through stories…

Based on novel by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls it perfectly blends a genuinely emotional drama with fantasy elements. The two compliment each other very well in director J.A. Bayonne’s capable hands. The story unfolds at a good pace, as Connor must come to terms with his mother’s illness. The opening dream sequence gives a small taste of things to come, and is a startling beginning.

A Monster Calls has an feel of A Christmas Carol in its set up of the repeated visits. It is refreshing to watch a family film that deals with serious issues without shying away or sugarcoating themes. Some aspects are predictable, but the film is crafted in a way which makes this not matter.

The film is a combination of live action, CGI and animation. The animated sequences are wonderfully rendered, give a real fantasy tone to the film. There is a lot of symbolism in the film. There are also repeated motifs, which tie in neatly to the overall narrative. The score works well, although it is slightly overblown in the finale. These scenes are emotional enough without requiring the extra push. Indeed, some of the scenes without it are the most effective.

Lewis McDougall delivers an impressive performance as Conor. Sigourney Weaver also puts in a good turn as his grandmother. Liam Neeson is a great choice for voicing the monster. Performances throughout the film are strong.

A Monster Calls conveys the difficulty in facing uncomfortable truths in unfortunate circumstances. J.A. Bayona has delivered a poetic and engaging film.

A Monster Calls is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.

Previews: The Boss Trailer, A Monster Calls and More!

A plethora of trailers in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the first The Boss trailer, A Monster Calls, Zoolander 2 and more…

The Boss Trailer

Melissa McCarthy plays a successful businesswoman who falls foul of the law in this first The Boss trailer. McCarthy’s latest vehicle is a comedy with seemingly a similar tone to her last few films. The actress is on a roll, so it will be interesting to see how this film does. The Boss is out in cinemas on 26th February 2016.

A Monster Calls Trailer

Liam Neeson unmistakable tones narrate this teaser trailer for A Monster Calls. The film is based on the critically acclaimed novel, and also stars Felicity Jones and Sigourney Weaver. A Monster Calls is about a 12-year-old boy who attempts to deal with his mother’s illness and the bullying of his classmates. The film is set for release in October 2016.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV Spot

Here is the second US TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Most of it is footage that has been seen before, but it is an exciting little preview of the film. Director J.J. Abrams has been careful not to reveal to much about the actual plot of the film, despite the various trailers and clips that have been released. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is out on 17th December 2015.

Concussion Trailer

It is strange to hear Will Smith doing an accent. Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a sports-related brain trauma, in a pro American football player. Concussion will hit the big screen on 12th February 2016.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War Trailer

A follow-up to 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman, The Huntsman: Winter’s War tells the story of Queen Ravenna and her connection with the huntsman long before Snow White. Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth return, and are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. The film certainly looks appealing; time will tell whether it will eschew the pitfalls of its predecessor. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is set for release on 22nd April 2016.

How To Be Single Trailer

How To Be Single is a new comedy about being single in New York. The film stars Rebel Wilson and Dakota Johnson as single friends navigating life in the city. Also starring Leslie Mann and Alison Brie, How To Be Single will be released in time for Valentine’s Day on 12th February 2016.

Zoolander 2 Trailer

Zoolander 2 looks like it will be as silly and funny as its predecessor. The film reunites Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell, and introduces Penelope Cruz and a very different-looking Benedict Cumberbatch. Zoolander 2 struts its way on to the big screen on 12th February 2016.