Film Review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Director Patrick Hughes’ The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an action comedy with two likeable leads. Despite the talent however, the film is not as amusing as viewers may wish.

Michael Bryce’s reputation as the world’s top bodyguard is dented after an unfortunate incident. He is asked to take on a perilous task; safely taking a notorious hitman to the International Court of Justice in time to testify…

Written by Tom O’Connor, The Hitman’s Bodyguard boasts a good premise for an action comedy. Nevertheless, the marketing is better than the film itself. Although it is entertaining, the film does not have the frequency of laughs to make it memorable. More comedy and less emphasis on tension and action would have made for a livelier film.

The action crosses a number of countries thanks to the race against time premise. The set up works well to create a sense of momentum, with tension increasing as the film progresses. The action sequences are relatively full-bodied, although they are often relied upon for comic effect. Bryce’s personal life plot does not really hit the mark, although it allows for Darius to impart some amusing knowledge. In the second half of the film, there are certain scenes which could have been edited to aid momentum.

Samuel L Jackson and Ryan Reynolds have good chemistry in the odd couple set up. Reynolds plays it fairly straight to allow Jackson to flourish in a more outlandish role. Salma Hayek is great in each scene she appears in. Unfortunately these are not frequent enough. She is the funniest character in the film, it is a shame that filmmakers do not capitalise on this. Gary Oldman is sufficiently hammy as the cartoonish antagonist.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is never boring, but there are few belly laughs. Perhaps the film’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t live up to the potential suggested by the marketing campaign.

Previews: Flatliners Trailer, Girls Trip, More!

This week’s preview of coming attractions features the new Flatliners trailer, Girls Trip, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and more…

Flatliners Trailer

Is it a remake of the 1990 movie, or is it a sequel? This new Flatliners trailer reveals a lot about the plot, but does not answer the question resolutely. The film stars Ellen Page and Diego Luna as medical students who decide to experiment with near-death experiences. Flatliners will hit UK cinemas on 29th September 2017.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard Trailer

This movie looks like a lot of fun. Action comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard is about a notorious hitman who has to be guarded Trailerby a top protection agent. The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L Jackson, Salma Hayek, and Gary Oldman. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is out in UK cinemas on 18th August 2017.

The Mountain Between Us Trailer

Here is the new trailer for The Mountain Between Us. The film is a thriller about two strangers who become stranded on a mountain following a crash. Based on the novel of the same name, the film is directed by Hany Abu-Assad, and stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. The Mountain Between Us is released on UK screens on 6th October 2017.

Girls Trip Poster

Here is the new poster for Girls Trip. The film is about four long-time friends who head down to New Orleans for the Essence Festival. The film stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish. Girls Trip is out in UK cinemas on 26th July 2017.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Featurette

This Spider-Man: Homecoming featurette focuses on the Spidey Suit. The film stars Tom Holland in the title role. He is joined by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, as well as Michael Keaton, Zendaya, and Marisa Tomei. Spider-Man: Homecoming launches onto UK screens on 5th July 2017.

Scribe Trailer

Here is the trailer for political thriller Scribe. The film is about a middle-aged man who is hired by a mysterious employer to transcribe phone-tapped conversations. François Cluzet, Scribe is released in UK cinemas and on demand from 21st July 2017.

Film Review: Tale of Tales

Tale of Tales

Director Matteo Garrone sumptuously depicts gothic stories in Tale of Tales. Both amusing and horrifying, Garrone captures the essence of the genre.

In one of the kingdoms, the Queen is desperate for a child, and will sacrifice anything to achieve this. In another, a King becomes obsessed by a flea. In a third, a King is enchanted by a beautiful voice, unaware of where it comes from…

Tale of Tales features three individual strands, which director and co-writer Matteo Garrone cuts between in lengthy sequences. Each of the stories concentrate on a different aspect. Nonetheless, there is an overarching theme of desire which runs through the film.

Each of the stories has an element of mystery to them. It is difficult to predict the outcome, which makes Tale of Tales an engaging film. There is some slack on the film; some of the sequences could have been trimmed slightly to keep momentum. Nevertheless, the stories themselves are intriguing. Moreover, the film has a mesmeric quality thanks in large part to its visuals.

Art direction in Tale of Tales is superb. The use of colour is striking, producing engorged imagery. Cinematography is also great; the film is distinct in its appearance. Sound design in Tale of Tales in suitably effective.

Performances in Garrone’s film are good overall. Toby Jones delights as the King of Highhills. Shirley Henderson is also memorable as Imma. Vincent Cassel appears to be having fun in an outlandish role, and Salma Hayek delivers a commanding performance.

The stories exhibited do not offer the cautionary redemption of many fairy tales. But this is Tale of Tales‘ charm; the film shines a light on the grotesque, inviting the audience to view the unfolding spectacle. Tale of Tales is a must-see for gothic fans, and should also enchant casual viewers.

Film Review: Savages

Oliver Stone’s Savages does not feel like an Oliver Stone film. That is not to say that it is a bad film, but merely that it feels like a departure from the director’s best known work.

Best friends Ben and Chon live in Laguna Beach with their girlfriend O, and are known for growing a potent strain of marijuana. When a Mexican cartel wants to move into their territory, the pair are not keen to a make a deal. Ben and Chon are forced into a perilous position when the cartel threatens the thing they both love…

Savages is a crime thriller that remains light for the most part. The film never gives the impression that it is taking itself too seriously. And because of this, it is an enjoyable watch. The pacing of the film accelerates appropriately, although the running time could have been trimmed.

The most striking element of Savages is that it bears little resemblance to earlier Oliver Stone films. Based on Don Winslow’s novel, Stone is also one of the screenplay writers. Yet it feels almost whimsical; a far cry from the weighty drama of JFK or the socio-economic commentary of Wall Street. It is as if Oliver Stone has taken a holiday, brushing aside more serious concerns for a thriller with a tongue-in-cheek attitude.

Much of the lightness is garnered from the dialogue. Savages is narrated by O, whose delivery is inconsequential. Given her age, background and location, this is not surprising. Nevertheless, the dialogue negates any illusions of Savages being a serious crime thriller. At times the film feels more Sweet Valley High than anything else. This is not really a bad thing.

There is some commentary to be found in Savages, regarding the legalisation of marijuana. This takes on an overt appearance, rather than being subtly hinted at. However, this message is delivered concisely, leaving the rest of the film to get on with its purpose of entertaining the viewer.

The villains in Savages are portrayed in a caricature manner, which makes them most enjoyable to watch. Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro appear to revel in their roles, offering amusingly over the top characters. Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch meanwhile are well cast in their straight roles.

Savages may not be to everyone’s taste, but those prepared for the lightness should be entertained. Fans of Stone’s more hard-hitting work may be bemused.

Trailer Round-Up

This week’s pick of trailers include horror movie Silent House, the George Lucas-produced Red Tails and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted.


Savages combines a number of enticing elements. Directed by Oliver Stone, the film is based on Don Winslow’s best-selling crime novel. Savages boasts a stellar ensemble cast that includes Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Blake Lively and Taylor Kitsch, who has very much been on the radar in 2012. The action thriller is due for release on 28th September 2012, in the UK.

Red Tails

Red Tails is based on the true story of World War II’s first African American fighter squadron. The first thing that struck me about the publicity for the film was the hot 80s-esque type font. Produced by George Lucas, Red Tails is directed by Anthony Hemingway (who has a solid career in television, including The Wire). Red Tails is released on 6th June 2012.


Just like the trailer suggests, as a child I always wanted my teddies to come alive. Actually, as an adult, I still wish for this. Ted is a new comedy from Family Guy-creator Seth MacFarlane. Written, directed and voiced by MacFarlane, the film is sure to offer the same brand of close-to-the-bone humour. Ted, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, is released on 3rd August 2012.

Silent House

Silent House is a horror film that takes place in real time and in one continuous take. I recently watched Rope again, which truly mastered the long take in the late 1940s. It will be interesting to see how Silent House compares. The film is a remake of Uruguayan film La Casa Muda. Silent House, which stars Elizabeth Olsen, opens on 4th May 2012 in the UK.

Film Review: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is as amusing as its title. The animated comedy is tremendous fun.

In nineteenth-century Britain, Queen Victoria hates pirates, who are the scourge of the seas. Captain Pirate is beloved my his crew, despite paling in comparison to his rivals Black Bellamy, Cutlass Liz and Peg Leg Hastings. When he enters the Pirate of the Year competition, Captain Pirate must travel far in search of treasure…

A film that should satisfy adults perhaps more than it does children, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is a bright and wholly amusing affair. The film retains its own sense of humour for the entire duration. The comedy should amuse children, although a number of the jokes seem aimed squarely at an adult audience.

Set in the nineteenth century, The Pirates features several well known characters. The film is smart to subvert commonly held depictions of these characters; this generates many of the laughs. The characters are parodied with humour, rather than an underlying nastiness. The Pirates is populated with an interesting cast, both fictional and those based on real people. Darwin and Mr Bobo in particular are great fun.

The Pirates has a distinct British feel to it, no doubt thanks to the crew and cast involved with the production. This feeling pervades the entire film, from the style of comedy to the characters and soundtrack. This aspect should go down well with British cinemagoers. Notwithstanding, the film has the charm and universal appeal to please audiences throughout the world.

The animation in The Pirates is solid, as one would expect from an Aardman Animation film. As with most animation in this format, the 3D works well. There is a good use of music throughout the film, including one particularly amusing song. The Pirates boasts a fine British voice cast, including Hugh Grant in his first animated film. Imelda Staunton stands out as Queen Victoria. Brian Blessed and Salma Hayak are a lot of fun in supporting roles.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is thoroughly enjoyable. It is unlikely that anyone will come away feeling that they have not been entertained.

Film Review: Puss in Boots

Shrek is a franchise that began brightly, but diminished in quality with more recent instalments. Thankfully spin-off Puss in Boots bucks this trend, offering an entertaining movie that should please family audiences.

Puss in Boots is an outlaw; his face appearing on wanted posters all over town. When he hears about some magic beans, Puss is determined to seek them out, even if it puts him in danger. As he tries to obtain them, Puss finds he has a masked rival after the same treasure…

Puss in Boots works successfully as a origins tale of one of the best-loved characters in the Shrek franchise. Although the character first appeared in another film series, Puss in Boots functions as a stand-alone film. The film launches into the action almost immediately, before a lengthy flashback fills in Puss’ background. The narrative has some predictable aspects, but pacing is good.

Like the franchise that spawned it, Puss in Boots is made enjoyable through its use of humour. The comedy operates on different levels, with something to appease a wide age demographic. The universal humour is great; it is sufficient in quality to amuse adults as well as children. References and jokes geared towards older viewers also work well, for example the allusion to James Bond at the very beginning is an amusing introduction. Like Shrek, some of the humour relies on knowledge of fairy tales, with well-known characters being altered to suit the narrative and generate laughs.

Antonio Banderas does a fine job voicing the title character. Salma Hayek rises to the challenge as Kitty Softpaws, while Zach Galifianakis is perfectly cast as the voice of Humpty Dumpty. Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris offer their talents as a very alternative Jack and Jill.

The animation in Puss in Boots is luscious. Particularly striking is Puss’ fur, which appears incredibly realistic. Like a lot of CGI animated films, the 3D works well in providing depth. The soundtrack provides a great accompaniment to the on-screen action, with music integral to the bar scene.

Puss in Boots will give viewers what the expect; a fun, family animation which offers all the ingredients to entertain this audience.

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists Trailer

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is a mind-boggling title. One that is sure to be abbreviated to The Pirates, leaving the poor scientists out in the cold. The film features Hugh Grant in his first animated role, as well as Brendan Gleeson, David Tennant and Salma Hayek. The trailer is a lot of fun, particularly the monkey. The Pirates is due for release in Spring 2012.