Viewed – 05 December 2020 online rental

I’ve been a long time fan of director David Cronenberg, and came to this unusual thriller blind, unaware at first that it’s directed by his son Brandon. However shortly into this I began to get those unsettling Cronenberg vibes, with its emphasis on the psychological effects of technology, not unlike Videodrome. This has a woman, Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) who works for a secret organisation who by using a device can transport herself into another person’s body in order to carry out an assassination.

Shot with a visual aesthetic that’s both beautiful and creepy, I was initially gripped by this concept and intrigued how it would play out. We learn early on that Tasya is in a relationship and has a young son, but is away on ‘business’ a lot so finds it hard to relate to them naturally, almost playing a part whenever she’s with them. Therefore she dives into her role as an assassin, mentored by Jennifer Jason Leigh’s agency figure.

However the is let down by a lack of meaning to Tasya’s increasingly brutal kills, seeming to lose control whenever she has to complete her mission. The violence here is drawn out, incredibly graphic and I’ll say … unnecessary. The themes the movie explores of identity, sanity, technology etc are interesting but they get overwhelmed by the gore. This leads to an ending that just didn’t make sense. Director Brandon Cronenberg has many of his father’s sensibilities but little of his depth going by this example. Disappointing.

Verdict: Poor

Welcome To The Punch

Viewed – 12 September 2013  Blu-ray

James McAvoy has so far impressed me with enjoyable turns in outrageous action flick Wanted and despite reservations, Xmen: First Class.  So a Brit crime thriller with him as a damaged but relentless cop and everyone’s favourite Brit bad guy, Mark Strong (Kick-Ass) as a master thief / bank robber … this can’t go wrong, can it?

McAvoy plays a tough detective on the mean streets of London whose relentless pursuit of a skilled, ruthless criminal is cut short when said criminal leaves him injured after a chase – but doesn’t kill him.  Switch to 3 years later and the criminal is called out of semi-retirement when his son is injured in mysterious circumstances, sparking the interest of metropolitan’s finest and soon it turns out both cop and criminal may have a mutual enemy.

Although extremely stylish and peppered with some impressive shoot-outs, this is let down by a very familiar setup – think Heat, Fast & Furious or even John Woo’s Hard-Boiled and you get the picture.  The two main characters are also pretty much stereotypes, lacking in depth beyond being grizzled and handy with a gun – and was that a homoerotic vibe I sensed?

There’s good support however from Walking Dead’s David Morrisey and also Andrea Riseborough, and director Eran Creevy shows no lack of skill by delivering cool action, beautifully framed shots and making London look like a cyberpunk anime fan’s wet dream.  Yet the clichéd ideas mar what is otherwise a fun, occasionally surprising thriller, greatly in need of imagination.  At least when Hot Fuzz attempted this, it was a satire.

Verdict:  3 /5

Brighton Rock

Viewed – 23 July 2011  Blu-ray

A remake of the 1947 brit-gangster movie of the same name, replacing Richard Attenborough with relative newcomer Sam Riley, and transports the story to the 60’s Mods & Rockers era.  Pinkie Brown is a small time hoodlum who is involved in the murder of the man responsible for his bosses’ death, and attracts the attention of not only the cafe owning friend of the victim (Helen Mirren) but also an innocent waitress, Rose who happened to be the last person to see the victim alive.  Pinkie chooses to go after the young waitress and ask her out in an attempt to keep her from going to the police, but his violent background and those close to Rose conspire to come between them.

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