Netflix have been going from strength to strength of late, what with hit Netflix original programming like Stranger Things and then the occasional Netflix original movies … it seems to be a great time to be a Netflix subscriber. One such movie that caught my eye was this little tongue-in-cheek horror. It tells the tale of Cole, a stereotypical nerdy loner kid in suburban American who is bullied at school and a bit of a mommies’ boy. Thing is too despite not being that young, Cole still has a babysitter – helps then that she’s super-hot. Step in Margot Robbie look-a-like Bee (Samara Weaving) who is not only the kid’s best friend but also keeps a watchful eye over him and helps fend off bullies. When the girl across the road however points out she thinks said Bee is probably inviting ‘boys’ around once the kid is tucked off to bed .. the kid decides to find out if it’s true – and is in for the shock of his life.
Directed by McG this has the same heightened reality, comic-book feel he brought to the two Charlie’s Angels movies, and there his epileptic style with wacky editing and mad-cap characters suited such a venture. However here it feels for the most part over the top. Told primarily through Cole’s eyes it makes sense from a kinds point of view but for what turns into a gory horror comedy, it creates a rather silly vibe that although fun makes it pretty throwaway too. The characters you see, are not all that engaging and it all gets very predictable. That being said the gore is at times spit your pop-corn out surprising and inventive, there’s some fun pop-culture references and social media obsession digs, and at least does kind of turn into Home Alone meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer (at least tonally).
For 90 minutes entertainment, this doesn’t out stay it’s welcome, has some good jokes and plenty of the red stuff, and performances are adequate, and sometimes that’s good enough. Unlikely to become a genre classic though.
So it seems to be another acclaimed actor’s turn to do the whole Taken thing with this Paris set thriller written by Luc Besson and directed by McG. Costner plays a CIA agent, who returns to Paris after a job goes wrong. Sound familiar yet? Oh but wait, Costner’s character has brain cancer and only an experimental drug and one last contract can save his life. Does he trust the sexy femme fatale CIA agent offering him a miracle cure, or does he settle for the quite life with his estranged wife & daughter? What do you think?
Costner handles the action well but also has to deal with a script that awkwardly juggles comedy and family bonding (let’s teach the daughter how to ride a bike, and yes there’s an African family squatting in Costner’s apartment…). It’s a strange tone for sure considering that some of the action is pretty full-on, fairly violent and intense. Amber Heard’s CIA agent is cool, mean and sexy but looks like she’s wondered off the set of an anime movie, lending little other than eye-candy and a lot of pouting. Oscar winner Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit is also quite wasted here, but tries her best. Thankfully then Costner who is probably mostly known as a supporting actor these days plods his way through very silly material fairly unscathed. But where’s the danger? Why doesn’t the daughter or ex-wife ever get kidnapped? And what’s the point other than for Costner to take a drug he accepts purely on good-will from a very dodgy woman with a gun?
With a couple of exceptions, these kind of European action movies are getting very tired, how the once talented Luc Besson pimps out script after script to once major actors clearly just after a pay cheque, is bordering on insulting. We as movie goers deserve better, and all the talent involved can certainly do better.
Cartoon faced Chris Pine (Star Trek) and walking muscle Tom Hardy (Warrior, Inception) are two highly trained CIA assassins who fall for the same woman, Reese (the jaw) Witherspoon, and soon find their friendship put to the test as they attempt to sabotage one another’s chances. Meanwhile a terrorist who survived an earlier mission is hell-bent on revenge.
Director McG (Terminator Salvation, Charles Angeles) has crafted an immediately ‘fun’ concept here with a likable cast and plenty of humour, romance and action. Although his flair for pop-corn thrillers livens up the movie with some beautiful sets, slick cars and cool gadgets, he seems most at home with the entertaining love triangle. Witherspoon is equal parts sexy and ditsy and has always been a favourite, whilst the two male leads are perfectly cast; Hardy playing the more in-touch-with-his-feelings type, whilst Pine is the charismatic womanizer with all the right moves. At times the action, which should have been the highlight, seemed forced and to be honest distracting – McG’s approach making me feel like the movie had been put into fast forward every time something kicked off. Add to this a clichéd villain that was all but an afterthought – and this often felt like a movie playing a tug of war with its own ideas.
So as you can probably imagine, it’s the banter between the three principal players where this shines (the dialogue positively bouncing off the screen), and it was still very entertaining. Just a shame McG felt the need to pad it all out with a weak terrorist subplot and badly handled action.
Well what can I say here? Lets begin by my thoughts on the Terminator franchise. The first is a genre defining thriller that set the bar for chase movies. The follow up is one of the most well executed, jaw-dropping action movies ever made. The belated third film certainly has its moments, and hey, a naked Kristana Loken in place of Michael Biehn or Arnie’s naked butt is gonna be a keeper every time. But let’s be honest here. T2 wrapped up things so well, I don’t think for a second director and series creator James Cameron envisaged further sequels, and therefore I am always left wondering how on earth the war against the machines is still playing out, than for any other reason than a money making scheme?
So here we are with the latest entry. Arnie is out of the picture this time round, and the setting is the near-future apocalypse of a desert landscape and rebel resistance headed by John Connor (Christian Bale). This time we have a mysterious drifter seeming from the past (Sam Worthington), who befriends a young Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn’s character in the first film, and future father of John Conner … please try and keep up). Meanwhile John himself is searching for Kyle after discovering that Skynet have his future father targeted, and he therefore must rescue him and keep him safe if he himself is ever to exist and eventually save the day.
This is convoluted stuff that seemingly relies on the viewer having a cast-iron memory of the previous films, no easy task when they were complicated enough to begin with, and Bale although looking the part adds very little to an iconic character that Edward Furlong didn’t deliver much better in T2. Thankfully new hot-property Sam Worthington lends some emotional weight to proceedings and pretty much steals the show. Director McG handles the brilliantly realised action with style & panache, and is definitely an action director to watch, coming fresh off his fun but brainless Charlie’s Angels movies into something, that at least on the surface has more depth. I say on the surface, as there are some majorly stupid plot developments here, especially Skynet’s ridiculous plan to capture Kyle when killing him would much more easily solve their problems with Connor (but then again, we wouldn’t have a film, would we?). Yet we do have some great tongue-in-cheek references to the earlier films that made me smile, and it ticks along at a cracking pace that even if this does feel pointless as far as the whole Terminator mythos is concerned … it remains great entertainment.