‘Phil’s Quick Capsule Review’ (a nod to legendary comedian Bill Hicks who coined the phrase when he reviewed ‘Piece Of Shit’ movie Basic Instinct)… where a perfect 10 is rarer than a rain free British summer!
Written by Phil Hobden – UK based podcaster, writer and former filmmaker. Part of the All Things Film network…
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: Ah I remember when Liam Neeson used to be an AC-TOR. Treading the boards, delivering Oscar nominated performances. But that Liam Neeson was no fun. We all like the Liam Neeson that kicks arse, takes names and kills people don’t we? Well mostly. But for every Taken there has been a Taken 2. And 3. So which is this? Well somewhere in between. In lacks the fun of Non-Stop and the hardcore action of Taken BUT there’s a lot to like as Neeson’s broken down ex-mob man has to fight to save his family. There’s punch-ups, shoot outs and the new Robocopy guy actually delivering for once. It’s all forgeable stuff. But kinda fun.
Best Bit: Pub Shoot Out
Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream
If You Liked this Try: Taken, A Walk Among The Tombstones, Non-Stop
If you wander in to Run All Night expecting Non-Stop or Taken, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. This is not the high-octane, mile-a-minute blockbuster actionfest I suspect most people will think they’re getting. Jaume Collet-Serra, who directed last year’s stupid-but-fun Non-Stop directs once again – but Run All Night is a more altogether brooding, gritty and family-wrenching affair where no-one comes off particularly well.
And what it does do well is explore the antagonism between fathers and sons. if Spielberg, for example, wouldn’t admonish gritty dark-hued affairs, then Run All Night is the stuff of his wet dreams as we watch the down-and-out in NYC Liam Neeson shake off his demons during his colder days as a frosty hitman. There’s a multi-scene stealing Ed Harris as his counterpart who’s own son is a tearaway mob youth mixed up in a new heroin deal. One event leads to another and Neeson’s son is about to be executed by said tearaway, only to be killed by Neeson – which precipitates a double man hunt for the father and son duo; both of whom hate one another.
It’s a two hour film; some more of the more expository and, frankly, laboured family musings do weigh the thriller down. The action, as relatively sparse as it is (especially when held up against Taken et al) is fast and punchy and the film contains some nifty little throw-tos from one scene to another – imagine a sort of high-speed Google Satellite and you’ve got the general idea.
And then of course, there’s the fact that both Harris and Neeson are both Irish; no opportunity missed by Collet-Serra there to draw this very fact out, culminating in one of the more sinister and creepy uses of The Pogue’s Fairtyale in New York I think I’ve ever seen in a film.
It’s all very heavy-handed and drowning atmosphere, and there are times when Run All Night pauses for a moment, coughing and wheezing, hands-on-its-knees struggling to regain its breath, but for those of you slapping your heads and thinking you’re in for Taken 4 – happily – I would recommend you rethink your stance on Neeson’s trajectory in this instance, and enjoy this one for what it is; a slightly drearier, more sombre take on John Wick.
Author: Andrew Mackay
To hear more on this review (and others like it) make sure you download the Filmsploitation podcast, part of the All Things Film network.
Grosse Point Geek, aka Will Strong, casts his eye over another bunch of recently watched of films…
Director: Oliver Megaton Actors: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Forrest Whittaker
Neeson’s Bryan Mills returns with his special set of skills and ends up on the run after being framed for his ex wife’s murder. God-awful 2nd sequel in this very tired franchise, manages to be boring, uninspired and utterly formulaic all at the same time, with a phoned in performance from Neeson. I still cant believe i actually listed this film in my top ten most anticipated of 2015 – dear Lord the shame!! Avoid
At Cinemas now
Directors: The Washowski’s Actors: Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne.
Kunis plays a lowly toilet cleaner (yeah right) who finds out she’s the heir to the universe, Tatum is the pointy eared, half man/ half wolf soldier who repeatedly rescues her from various intergalactic bounty hunters sent by Eddie Redmayne’s effete baddie and then (i kid ye not) Sean Bean turns up as a half man half bee………………honestly words fail me. Gobsmackingly terrible and as utterly stupid as it sounds, featuring overblown sfx, a shoddy script and laughable performances from all concerned. Makes Battlefield Earth and Dune look like masterpieces by comparison.
At Cinemas now
Director: Clint Eastwood Actors: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller
Superb film – based on the true life tale of Chris Kyle, a US navy SEAL who notched up over 150 enemy kills whilst serving in Iraq. Cooper is simply outstanding as Kyle, as is Miller as his long suffering wife, plus its brilliantly directed by Eastwood. Can be seen on several levels – a drama, a love story or just a full on action movie. Highly recommended.
At cinemas now
Director: Alex Garland Actors: Domhall Gleeson, Oscar Issac, Alicia Vikander.
Gleeson’s nerdy computer drone wins an inter company competition to spend a week with his reclusive Bill Gates-alike boss (Isaac), then happily discovers that its all a ruse so he can test the intelligence of the world’s 1st fully functioning AI Robot (Vikander). Not bad, well directed by Garland with 3 excellent central performances and very good use of SFX that properly serves the story. However i did find it a bit slow and wasn’t totally convinced that it was as an original a concept as Garland wanted its intended audience to accept.
At Cinemas now
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn Actors: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine.
Edgerton’s ASBO baiting young oik is recruited by Firth’s suave secret agent to become a Kingsman – an elite group of very British James Bond types who take it upon themselves to save the world on a regular basis. Extremely funny, very entertaining, totally politically incorrect, full of great action and unashamedly barbed one liners. Egerton is a joy to watch and Firth is perfectly cast, only Jackson’s lisping baddie fails to have much impact, though to be honest it doesn’t matter as the whole thing is so much fun that you wont care. If you liked Kick Ass then you will absolutely love this. Cracking film
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: “It’s ends here”… god I hope so. Taken 3 is the latest 12 rated Luc Besson produced ‘action film’ to limp its way into the cinema. It’s sadly not as laugh out loud bad as Taken 2 and only mildly less boring than Walk Amongst The Tombstones that came out late last year. Yup a watered down action film, with virtually no action for almost forty five minutes, zero o blood and Neeson and cast sleep walking from start to finish. Want a great action film? Wait for John Wick. Want a watered down dull pile of pants… well that will be Taken 3.
Best Bit: I have no idea.
Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Borrow.
If You Liked this Try: Taken, Taken 2, Walk Amongst The Tombstones
Ever wanted to know what a U certificate action movie looks like? Here it is. It’s not “U” certificate because it’s light no gore or violence – it’s because the film is so hard to actually view, you may as well be listening to an audio book. Directing once again is Optimus Prime’s chief nemesis Olivier Megatron who’s clearly no fan of his own work and has obviously entered into a wager with editor that they can get into the Guinness Book of Records with the most amount of cuts in a 100 minute movie.
It’s lamebrained, dull shite to be absolutely sure. Liam Neeson looks embarrassed; Maggie Grace looks like she’s aged about twenty years, and Famke Janssen lasts approximately six minutes. And as for Forest Whiteaker – forget it. He’s half as good here as he was in Phone Booth.
There’s only two things in this movie that are taken. The first is a pregnancy test. The second is the piss out of the audience.
To hear more on this review (and others like it) make sure you download the Filmsploitation podcast!
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: So, expecting an action packed Taken style movie? Well if you are re-engage those exceptions because AWATT is NOT that film. What it is is a solid, if unspectacular and a little over long, broken cop thriller very much in the vein of Narc or Rush. Just not as good. What’s good? Neeson is solid and well honed in this type of role nowadays and whilst he doesn’t put in a great deal of effort, he’s not phoning it in either. Some good support roles, a few gruesome moments and an interesting story JUST ABOUT compensate for a film that could do with a pace increase at times and a shorter run time. So… not bad by any stretch but also in no way a classic.
Phil’s Quick Capsule Review: Okay so if you are expecting a film on par with the rather superb Ted then A Million Ways To Die In The West will disappoint. If you are looking for a comedy that has laughs, some nice set pieces and the greatest cameo in a film ever (yes even better than Zombieland) then there’s actually a lot to enjoy here. It’s still crap but it passed the Kermode 6 laugh test within the first twenty minutes and maintained it throughout. SO not amazing, a film you will only ever watch once but if you like the Family Guy style humour then this should appeal.
Best Bit: THAT Cameo
Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Rent
If You Liked this Try: Ted, Family Guy, 22 Jump Street
During a routine Transatlantic flight, Air Marshall Bill Marks (Liam Neeson), receives a series of text messages from an unknown person, threatening to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless a $150 million ransom is paid by the airline. Thinking he is being wound up, he dismisses the texts as a sick joke, however things start taking a turn for the worst when the bodies start piling up and Marks finds himself being framed as the chief suspect.
Its then down to the beleaguered air marshal and a plucky passenger (Julianne Moore) to find out which of the passengers is the villain and stop the air force from shooting down the plane.
It had to happen, I knew it couldn’t last. 2014 was going so well – just about every film id seen so far this year had been superb. The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club – all brilliant, even the Robocop remake wasn’t bad. So, being the total sucker for an action film that I am, I merrily toddled off to my local Cineworld to watch this stinking pile of pants.
Now Non Stop should have worked – Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore are always good value, its produced by the legendary Joel Silver (Predator, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard etc.), the plot seemed interesting, the trailer screamed “top action movie” – hell even the poster looked great. Not only that, when it was released in the US, it flew straight to the top of the box office with a $30 million opening weekend!
So what went wrong I hear you cry? Well friends, just about bloody everything.
For a start the script is woefully awful, with characters that are cliché’ to a fault. Marks is a grieving alcoholic, one of the stewardesses is having a fling with the co pilot, everyone on the plane is made to look suspicious and of course there’s the obligatory vomit inducing, teddy bear wielding 9 year old, who (predictably) is on her 1st flight by herself – laugh? I nearly asked for a sick bucket.
As far as the performances go, the normally superb Neeson seems to have just shown up for the money and is by turns cheesy, and ineffective in the lead role. Julianne Moore fares no better, her bland character given no depth or backstory – quite what an actress of her ability and range is doing in this nonsense is beyond me. Jaume Collett Serra’s direction is uninspiring , boringly by the numbers and criminally fails on every level to crank up any tension or deliver one half way decent action scene. Even the shootout at the films climax lacks any and all excitement – I mean how hell does a director screw up a scene showing the mighty Liam Neeson flying through the air firing a handgun??! Answer – you just don’t – it aint the done thing old son.
Dammit there’s no place for films like this anymore, you could get away with it in the 80’s and 90’s but not now. The next two years are going to be some of the most exciting times the cinema has ever seen. Talented directors like JJ Abrams, Chris Nolan and Joss Whedon, are out there right now, taking their time developing sharp scripts and good stories, –basically making damn sure that we, the punters get our money’s worth.
OK, yes I’ll admit that Non Stop isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen and it passed the time well enough, but If I wanted to see a rehash of the likes of Executive Decision or Air Force One – id simply just watch them again.
All I would say is that, if studios are going to recycle and redo old films , then at the very least write a good script, throw in a few decent characters, and for God’s sake don’t bore me! It was done brilliantly last year with the fantastic Olympus Has Fallen and there is no reason it shouldn’t have been done here.
Liam you are better than this, and to producer Joel Silver – a word to the wise, the glory days of the 80’s are over mate, get some inspiration and stop living on the past.