Greyhound


Viewed – 14 July 2020 Apple TV+

Oscar winning actor Tom Hanks is the latest name to appear exclusively on a streaming platform and shows that the digital medium and subscription services are making quite the impact. This based-on-true-events WWII drama has Hanks as a commander of an American warship given the unenviable task of escorting a fleet of ships across the ocean in 1942. However, they are not safe in the waters as a group of German U-Boats make an appearance.

A fairly simple setup paves the way for 90 minutes of gradually building tension as Hanks attempts to out-wit the Germans over several days before air support can arrive. The movie felt very authentic from the off, with plenty of I’m guessing realistic naval terms, that I’ll confess went a little over my head. Hanks as expected, is mesmerising and delivers a highly nuanced performance of a man with no small degree of humanity in the face of war and death. Support comes from Stephen Graham and Elizabeth Shue, both of which get very little to do, which goes to highlight this movie’s only failing … that of fairly one dimensional support characters, although the movie still managed to make me care, despite a lack of personality. Battles are visceral and heart-pounding and effects work throughout is decent, which delivers a real foreboding scale to the action.

Not as epic as similar fair but this is right, to the point and effective. Even if Hanks wasn’t in this, I would still have found it edge-of-the-seat stuff, but he does elevate it still and because of that I give this a firm recommendation. Just a shame it’s Apple TV exclusive because it surely deserves a wider audience.

Verdict: Recommended

Allied


Viewed – 04 April 2017  online rental

The movie that’s probably more famous for ‘allegedly’ causing the break up of Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s marriage than it is for the story or movie itself.  This WWII set drama follows a U.S. soldier who after being thrown together with a French agent during a top secret mission, falls in love with said agent and subsequently marries her on return to London.  However a year into their marriage with a baby in tow, the soldier’s superiors inform him they’ve intercepted information that suggests his wife might be a Nazi spy.

allied

Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forest Gump, Back to the Future) this was a fascinating and engrossing story let down a tad by (surprisingly) not all-that convincing chemistry between the principal leads and somewhat limited production values where several scenes look like they are on a set or in front of green-screen (the desert sequence especially).  Pitt, one of my favourites seems to have been phoning it in of late, with his less than stellar turn in the otherwise enjoyable ‘Fury’ and that follows on here.  I don’t know what is going on, perhaps it’s his at the time choppy personal life bleeding into production, but for the most part he looks bored.  Thankfully Marion Cotillard is much more convincing and considering the suspicion surrounding her character, pulls it off brilliantly both as a believable loving, sexy wife and perhaps something else.  The mystery does however get wrapped up very easily and what appeared on the surface to be a solid concept seems to run out of depth as it nears it’s conclusion.

For the most part though, as a fairly well observed drama, with several tense situations and a some surprising violence … this still managed to entertain.  It just could have been even better if Pitt had really gone for it.

Verdict:  3 /5

Green Room


Viewed – 21 January 2017  Netflix

I’d heard some good things about this and so when it appeared on Netflix I jumped at the chance.  A low-rent punk band nearing the end of their tour take up an offer to play at remote rural roundhouse, but soon discover it’s run by a gang of neo-Nazis.  After witnessing a stabbing, the band find themselves battling for survival against a murderous group of thugs lead by Patrick Stewart.

Green Room

A familiar but none-the-less intriguing concept, I found myself quickly on board for this. Yet once the shit hit the fan, some issues rear their head, like how the band jump to the conclusion that their lives are in danger after discovering a stabbed girl.  Also, not one time do any of the band enquire what happened and proceed to provoke the thugs by calling the cops instead.  Add to this a mumbling, rather underwhelming Patrick Stewart who really should have stolen the show here and this soon turned into something a little less compelling than expected.  Thankfully there’s some very good stuff toward the end when events turn into a life and death battle of wits, and the late Anton Yeltchin (Star Trek) proves why he’s one young actor who will be sorely missed in the industry.  A spunky Imogen Poots (Need For Speed) as a girlfriend to one of the thugs also proves a welcome surprise.  Add to this some shocking violence that doesn’t cut away or go gentle and this at least delivers as a bloody horror-thriller even if its otherwise formulaic.  The fact some of the plotting is needlessly convoluted (the reason the girl gets stabbed) is another reason this falls short of future genre classic status.

As it stands though for 90 minutes of tense, violent thrills … I guess this still did it’s job, even if similar plotted movies like Eden Lake or Frontiers did it better.

Verdict:  3 /5

Fury


Viewed – 10 March 2015  Blu-ray

In the final days of World War II a grizzled Tank squad (headed by Brad Pitt) journey through Germany on a routine mission to hit the Nazis where it hurts … until disaster strikes.

fury.jpg

Considering the plethora of WWII movies that have been made, I still managed to find this an interesting take on the age old band-of-brothers concept with the inclusion of the tank battles and the trapped behind enemy lines plotting.  It wears it’s clichés with pride, with the usual characters like the rookie, the grizzled war vet and the psycho, but mostly failed to inject them with a personality that even Pitt couldn’t deliver in a fairly one-note turn.  Even the casting of Shia LaBeouf seemed fairly pointless.

However, I liked how the movie became about more than just Pitt doing his thing and the layered performance of a wet-behind-the-ears Norman (Logan Lerman) saved this from being another also-ran.  The movie has some good action and gets fairly gory as the bodies pile up, with the final act being as intense as it gets.  With classics like Saving Private Ryan to think about when watching this, it lacks the depth or the performances and struggles with pacing (that scene in the house … yawn), but overall, it was still pretty decent.

Verdict:  3.5 /5