Tag Archives: Cillian Murphy

Review – 28 Days Later

This review is part of our 31 Days of Horror series. You can check out the other posts by clicking these words.

This review contains major spoilers.

Everyone loves a good zombie flick. Unless you don’t. And if you don’t, 28 Days Later is one of the ones which makes this a sad state of affairs. Also, this isn’t really a zombie flick – but I’m leaving it within the parameters of one.

Okay. Like with most zombie-style flicks, the introductory plot is pretty basic and to-the-point. Thankfully, though, 28 Days Later has so much more to offer than the average post-apocalyptic picture-show. So, in a nutshell: Animal activists break into a laboratory in order to free some chimpanzees held in captivity. Ignoring the pleas of a present scientist who strongly advises against the idea due to said chimpanzees being infected with a super-contagious Rage Virus, one of the activists lets a chimp free. Said chimp, clearly in an abnormal state, mindlessly attacks one of the activists and infects them with the rage virus, spreading to and initiating a reaction in the activist almost instantly. And from here, things just go from bad to worse – but I guess that’s what you get for monkeying around (and before anyone says it: yes, I know there are significant distinctions between chimps and monkeys. Let me pun in peace.)

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Review – Dunkirk

What’s this?

This is Christopher Nolan’s 14th film, and it is based on the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War 2.

What’s it about?

During World War Two, allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, and France are surrounded by the Germans and desperately need to evacuate. The event was described as a military disaster with soldiers frantically trying to get home. One of the reasons this movie has gathered interest is because it is not a world war story about victory. The movie is played in three nonlinear parts – The Mole (the land), The Sea and The Air. From a technical perspective, this is probably one of Nolan’s finest works.

How so?

I had the pleasure of seeing this in IMAX. You probably know from the marketing of this film that it was shot using a combination of a 65mm IMAX, and a 65mm large format film stock, and that it was the first feature-length film to use IMAX cameras in a handheld capacity after advice from Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard. It is not common for a modern film to sell itself on how it was shot, but when I saw Dunkirk I understood why. The entire movie relies on grandeur shots and various perspectives and it was a distraction because it is genuinely fascinating to watch. From long sweep shots on the beaches to long scope shots of the soldiers lining up to escape, it is obvious that Nolan indulged his obsession of using certain cameras in his most IMAX-shot film to date.

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Review – Dunkirk

What’s this?

It’s Christopher Nolan’s World War II movie. And I know that sounds a bit snarky and reductive, but considering that Dunkirk is pretty much exactly the movie I imagined it being when I heard the words, “It’s a Christopher Nolan World War II movie,” I really don’t think there’s any better way to describe it.

You have a problem with Christopher Nolan, don’t you?

Not at all, despite what colleagues of mine might have you believe. I think Nolan’s a legitimate auteur of extraordinary technical acumen, and one of painfully few contemporary filmmakers whose releases feel like cultural events. But unlike his legions of obsessed devotees – blimey, this guy’s fanbase is fucking insufferable – I’m perfectly willing to admit the faults and failings of his filmmaking; to say, for instance, that Interstellar’s entire third act is hippie hogwash, or that even his best films (The Dark Knight and Inception) are still overlong and irritatingly self-indulgent.

See, Nolan’s such a devout technician that for him, the click of a movie coming together isn’t the unity of its themes and ideas, but the gears of a giant mechanism locking into place. He has no sense of emotional proportionality. He believes he’s tackling important existential dilemmas, but he confuses what his movies are about (loss, love, revenge, family) with what they actually are, which is often deliriously gorgeous puzzle boxes that don’t contain much of anything. But when he’s working at his best, his intellectual and emotional shallowness hardly matters; he can claim that time and space are infinite and manipulable, and make you believe him.

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Review – Anthropoid

As soon as the film opened, I knew this was not going to be a glossy watch. World War Two films are not hard to come by, but one based on actual events from the perspective of Czechoslovakian operatives is a rarity in cinema.

You know you are in for an exhausting two hours, and that’s a compliment to how the film has been put together. It’s rough, snowy opening, as the parachutists land in the middle of woodland, is only the beginning of a slow, tentative, but intense drama that unfolds deliberately right until the very end. The story, which is based on actual events, follows two Czechoslovakian soldiers, Josef Gabčík (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan), tasked with Anthropoid: the operational code name for the assassination of SS officer Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich, the primary architect of the Final Solution, was the Reich’s third-in-command behind Hitler and Himmler, and the leader of Nazi forces in Czechoslovakia.

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Review – Free Fire

Despite already boasting one of the most lurid, original, promising and peculiar catalogues in UK filmmaking, director Ben Wheatley and his co-writer, Amy Jump, have nonetheless delivered us Free Fire, an enjoyable small-scale distraction that serves as a feature-length answer to a question nobody was asking: What, exactly, would a realistic gunfight actually look like?

You can tell right from the outset that Free Fire isn’t leaden with the usual dramatic complexity, thematic heft and grim sensibility of Wheatley’s earlier work, which includes 2015’s High-Rise, a dystopian drama adapted from J.G. Ballard’s iconic 1975 novel, and an extraordinarily nasty bit of work called Kill List, from 2011. It’s about as stripped-down and simplistic as movie premises get, really. A handful of criminals amass in a deserted Boston warehouse to conduct an arms sale, and thanks to an unexpected disagreement, everyone involved ends up shooting at everyone else for the entire movie.

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