Following Apple TV’s Greyhound, actor Tom Hanks once again embraces the streaming platforms, this time Netflix and like that earlier battleship thriller, there’s little dip in quality compared to his usual, reliable output. This eighteenth century set western has him as a retired army veteran who now travels from town to town reading news articles to paying audiences. However one day he stumbles upon an orphaned young girl and decides to help return her to her family.
Directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Identity) based on the novel by Paulette Jiles, this boasts eye catching cinematography that brings the setting and time period to life. Although slow burning, the gradual bond that forms between Hanks and the girl is of course the heart of the movie … this is a very simple tale but one that’s done with a lot of feeling and authenticity.
At times some details of the girl’s background can be a bit too vague (not helped by a language barrier) and where Hanks was heading to lost me at one stage. The movie also feels a little too understated at times. Yet with some nail biting scenes, including a tense shoot out and a sand storm, this was still quite gripping. Again Hanks is great, conveying all the necessary emotions and brings the character to life. Helena Zengel as the little girl is also memorable. That ending really got me too. Worth a watch.
We live in scary times. Terrorism has scarred and seemingly shaped the modern world and one such atrocity occurred in 2011 in Norway that I still find hard to comprehend. When a group of students go to an isolated island for a summer camp getaway, unbeknownst to them a right-wing extremist, Anders Breivik sets off a bomb by the Prime Minister’s building, before disguising himself as a Police officer to get onto the island and proceed to gun down the students.
The movie hits the ground running with that horrific attack, and later focuses on three figures, firstly a student as he goes through rehabilitation after receiving horrific injuries, then the lawyer tasked with defending a monster … and finally Breivik himself as he awaits trial. Director Paul Greengrass’s movie is a tough watch and decidedly harrowing but very well done with authentic casting that whilst not always delivering the best performances, still aid the realism. Breivik is especially well cast and made this viewer angry at his arrogance and smug attitude.
I’d have preferred more backstory on Breivik as his motives are only shown in a very one-sided way considering his complex issues with the Norwegian government which are not elaborated upon. However as a portrayal of such an atrocious event, Greengrass delivers an effective yet respectful drama that’s very much worth seeing.
I don’t know why, as someone who enjoyed the first movie in this franchise, I didn’t get around to seeing this sequel until the other day. Matt Damon is once again hard-as-nails CIA assassin Jason Bourne who lives a life of leisure with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) until he gets set up for the theft of some top secret files. Soon his former employees are out to get him as he struggles to stay one step ahead and unmask the real culprit.
Taking over directing duties this time from Doug Liman is Paul Greengrass, who despite lacking some of the subtlety and finesse of Liman has made a tighter, albeit rapidly edited but more exciting movie. Support comes in the shape of Joan Allen as a CIA chief out to apprehend Bourne and Brian Cox also returns as Bourne’s former boss. I felt the stakes seemed a lot higher this time and although the finer details on certain plot threads connecting certain sequences seemed to get muddled as the action kicked in (including possibly one of the best car chases I’ve seen) … I was still gripped from beginning to end.
Unlike the last movie, there’s nobody to really touch Damon’s performance that is once again complex, emotional and bad-ass. Allen seems particularly under-developed. A superior sequel in the adrenaline stakes then, which suffers a couple of coherence issues. Yet as it stands, this remains a thrilling follow-up that left this viewer thirsty for more.
The Blu-ray is very pleasing. The image looks great (a little dark but a clear step up from Identity) and the audio packs a hefty punch and is clear and atmospheric. The extras are again plentiful with several featurettes, behind the scenes footage, interviews and an invaluable commentary from the director. A great treatment to what is possibly the most underrated movie in the series.
At one time, Tom Hanks was probably the finest actor in Hollywood. Who can forget his two years in a row Oscar win for Philadelphia and Forest Gump? Not to mention his stellar turn in Saving Private Ryan, among others. Yet in recent years, and following luke-warm reactions to his Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons roles, he seemed to almost disappear … but now he’s back, ready to show everyone else how it’s meant to be done.
Hanks plays Richard Phillips, a Captain of a huge cargo ship heading into Somalia waters, when they get attacked by a group of pirates. Based on a shocking true story, this is immediately gripping and very well acted by all involved. Director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) has delivered an utterly intense, nail-biting experience that barely lets up through its 2hrs + running time. I did go into this a little bit cautious … just how interesting can a movie about an attack on a boat be? Simple answer: very very interesting. Greengrass drags out every moment for full nerve-shredding potential, from the gradual approach of the pirates heading to the ship aboard speed boats, to a tense search in the engine room where the rest of the crew are hiding. It’s not exactly Die Hard on a boat, going for a more wholly realistic approach … but I was probably more gripped and excited than during the entire Die Hard franchise. Surprisingly the movie also managed to show the pirates, as ruthless as they are, with some degree of sympathy and the actors playing them, all real-life Somalian’s did a very commendable job.
Yet this remains Hanks’ movie and his performance here is not big Hollywood star (he’s never been that sort of actor) but very human and heart-breaking. I’ll even admit to feeling quite emotional at times watching such a layered, believable performance. Hanks is back at the top of his game here, and I foresee another Oscar on the horizon.
A movie that questions your beliefs, makes you think and gives you plenty to talk about in the ride home afterwards. A contender for movie of the year.
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