Tag Archives: Thriller

Review – Message From The King

What’s this?

Message from the King is a neo-noir action thriller. A Netflix Original. Wait, what? Yes, you read correctly. It appears the media giant is trying to distribute through every genre possible. It also stars Chadwick Boseman. Before he completely disappears into the Marvel Universe, we get to see him showcase his talents in this dark narrative. Intrigued? So was I.

What’s it about?

I am not going to lie. When I hovered over the thumbnail and read the description I rolled my eyes. I deliberated whether to press play. The Xbox Netflix app has this persistent feature where it either plays a snippet from the movie or starts the episode and, to my annoyance, it meant I had to press back a few times. Here is the basic premise: a South African man named Jacob King lands in Los Angeles to avenge his young sister’s death. It sounds like a typical action narrative that is good for the tired brain that cannot be bothered to concentrate. Here is how the premise really sets itself up: Jacob lands in LA, investigates the daily life of his sister in order to find her, ends up at a morgue as per advice from a local, identifies his bloodied and mutilated sister and gets extremely angry. Jacob is quite clearly a character that has more to him, yet reveals only grains of his personality. Who killed his sister is not clear, and who is important remains to be solved. The first twenty minutes of Message from the King gives you a convincing impression that we may have an absorbing thriller on our hands. I was surprised.

Did it deliver?

Yes, though with a few gripes which I will discuss later. The opening of the movie is immediate and straightforward. It does not begin showing his life in South Africa. It rolls from an L.A. airport where two unknowing border control men ask the suspicious questions and consider the shady answers. From there, it moves to Jacob investigating the whereabouts of his sister. Less is more because of the setting, the atmosphere between characters, and the slow revelations. It keeps you engaged. There is a moment in particular where Jacob passes his motel neighbour and she throws him the enquiring glance. He returns the favour so you know that she will be important at some point. By the time he finds his murdered sister you are ready. His pain and anger can be felt. Whether or not the slow build-up to the key moment was intentional, it works because when he first participates in an action scene you are exhilarated by his violent side. Message from the King wants you to know that this is not action reliant. There is a real character on display.

Continue reading Review – Message From The King

Opinion – Is Daniel Craig A Little Too Shaken And Stirred To Play Bond Anymore?

So, following well over a year of speculation about whether he will return to the role of 007, it has been confirmed that Daniel Craig will play James Bond for a further two films.

After all the injury problems experienced during the production of Spectre, the actor’s most recent outing as the spy, Craig’s future was very much in question. During the promotional work for Spectre, everyone kept asking the big question – will he do another film? At the time, it looked as though we had seen the last of him. Craig seemed to have had enough; looked as though he had completely fallen out of love with the character. However, over a year and a half on after the release of the last film, the news has surfaced that he is signed not for one, but for TWO more films.

Now, inevitably, everyone has their take on the announcement. It has received a somewhat mixed response and has definitely polarised cinema-goers and Bond fanatics. Some have been overjoyed to hear that Craig will be in the role for the foreseeable future, and others have been… less so.

Continue reading Opinion – Is Daniel Craig A Little Too Shaken And Stirred To Play Bond Anymore?

Review – Icarus 

What’s this?

This is a Netflix Original documentary created by filmmaker Bryan Fogel. He is trying to uncover doping in sports. What it turns into is something else entirely. Usually, when I write reviews of documentaries, I warn that there will be spoilers because it is based on actual facts. However, for Icarus, it is an exception. It needs to be watched for the surprise turns and revelations. There will be no spoilers in this review.

What’s it about?

Icarus is not your usual documentary. How it starts and what it becomes are two separate subjects. It starts off with Bryan wanting to understand doping, how the system works and how it can improve performances in cycling. We all know cycling is one of the biggest sporting travesties in history. It is baffling how anyone would want to genuinely support this sport after a number of systematic doping programs it has become submerged in. Bryan wants to replicate what many of the cyclists did and, in order to do that, he needs to subject himself to a doping cycle. The challenge for Bryan is that he needs to find an expert that is willing to liaise with him to achieve this. Initially, he finds one. Unfortunately, the expert could not continue to help due to his leading role with anti-doping, so it was an obvious conflict of interest. Fortunately, this expert connects Bryan with a scientist who specializes in the subject. That scientist being Grigory Mikhailovich Rodchenkov, the director of a Moscow laboratory, the anti-doping center of Russia.

This is where the documentary morphs into something else.

Continue reading Review – Icarus 

Review – Kidnap

What’s this?

A perplexingly bad new thriller that follows Academy Award winner Halle Berry as she pursues her kidnapped son through Louisiana while talking, crying, screaming, whining and praying to herself in medium close-up for 90 agonising minutes. It is asinine, unabashed garbage, and made with such an absence of skill or dramatic consideration that the reliable incompetence of its writing, direction, editing and acting make for one of the most unintentionally hilarious puddles of genre slop I’ve seen all year.

Well, it is August. What’s it about?

Berry plays Karla Dyson, a single mother making ends meet by working a thankless job as a diner waitress. The diner, needless to say, feeds only rude and difficult clientele, and her son, Frankie (Sage Correa), frequently sits inside while he waits for her shift to end. This is, as far as I can tell, tantamount to child abuse. It’s no surprise then that Karla’s off-screen husband is divorcing her in favour of an upscale new squeeze, and while he’s at it he’d like Frankie full-time, thanks very much. While negotiating the terms of this arrangement in a local park, Frankie is snatched by a couple of scruffy, fat hicks, and bundled into the back of a teal Ford Mustang; Karla gives chase. This pursuit takes up most of the movie and is wonderful, laugh-a-minute stuff. Most of it is filmed an inch or two from Berry’s nose, which is far enough away to take in her bug-eyed, teeth-gnashing overreactions, but too close for the audience to see all the automotive mayhem that’s apparently happening outside the car. At one point Karla leaves the Chrysler to pursue the Mustang on foot, and this strikes me as perhaps the funniest movie moment of the year.

Continue reading Review – Kidnap

Review – Atomic Blonde

What’s this?

It’s Jane Wick.

Okay, sorry, that’s not entirely accurate. But I’ve had that joke lined up since the first trailer, and while it might not be my best work, I needed to get it off my chest. It’s half right, anyway. Atomic Blonde is about a badass super-spy punching, shooting and stabbing her way through a stylized aesthetic under the direction of David Leitch. Certainly sounds like John Wick to me.

But, alas, Atomic Blonde isn’t that – at least not all the time. In reality, it’s based on a moderately obscure graphic novel, The Coldest City, and takes the form, structurally and tonally, of a twisty Cold War espionage thriller full of Soviet skulduggery and collapsing communist regimes. Which isn’t exactly what was advertised.

Continue reading Review – Atomic Blonde

Review – The Circle

What’s this?

You might remember The Circle from April, when it enjoyed a limited theatrical release that critics treated a little bit how a dog might treat its favourite chew toy. Since then the film, which was directed by James Ponsoldt and adapted from a 2013 novel by Dave Eggers, has been sneakily picked up by Netflix, and was rolled out this week as one of their “Originals.” Someone at Netflix should probably look up the word “original”, because I don’t think it means what they think it means.

What’s it about?

Emma Watson is a small-town girl who secures a dream job working for a sprawling tech giant called The Circle – which is basically all your favourite real-life tech giants, only with “but evil” added as an addendum. It’s basically Facebook, but evil, although it’s organised like Google, but evil, and it’s run by an enigmatic figure not unlike Steve Jobs, but evil. Watson gets this job thanks to a jet-setting workaholic friend (Karen Gillan) who’s already there, but she quickly ascends the corporate ladder by being worryingly okay with the company’s invasive surveillance-state expansion methods, and becoming, through a process known as “transparency”, which livestreams her day-to-day existence, something of a pet celebrity.

Continue reading Review – The Circle

Review – You Get Me 

What’s this?

It’s one of those Netflix Original Movies that keeps getting churned out by the Netflix movie maker factory.

This time it’s a generic looking thriller/drama called You Get Me about some young attractive teens caught up in romance, drama and weirdness. It’s as generic as a teen thriller movie can get and I’m not surprised it ended up distributed by Netflix, as it is just about worth the watch on a streaming platform.

What’s it about?

Tyler (Taylor John Smith) believes the night ahead is the night he will finally have sex with his high school love Alison (Halston Sage). Due to a heated argument at a house party, they kind of split up, which leads Tyler to bump into Holly (Bella Thorne) who appears to be a normal girl trying to be spontaneous. This leads him to go clubbing with his new found friend, which then leads to alcohol, drugs, kissing and sex in a very luxurious home. Tyler sees it as a one night stand and Holly appears to be in agreement but they both agree it was a special night.

The next day Tyler and his ex-girlfriend Alison meet up and swiftly get back together, much to the dislike of Holly, who does not take this very well. You can guess the rest of the movie. I’m not kidding.

Continue reading Review – You Get Me