‘The Gentlemen’ Review

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writer: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Matthew McConughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Henry Golding, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Strong, Tom Wu, Eddie Marsan and Hugh Grant

Synopsis: A British drug lord tries to sell off his highly profitable empire to a dynasty of Oklahoma billionaires.

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

Writer/director Guy Ritchie made a splash on the film scene with his gangster comedies like Lock, Stock and Two Smokin’ Barrels and Snatch. He’s recently taken a crack at a TV spy adaptation in The Man from U.N.C.L.E (which is criminally underrated), a different take on King Arthur with King Arthur and the Legend of the Sword and recently, the successful, Disney live-action film Aladdin. One thing that was clear in all of them, Ritchie has a style that he’s mastered, and it’s damn enjoyable when he finds his groove. Enter, The Gentlemen.

Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American-born, marijuana kingpin in London is looking to get out of the game. He’s lucky enough to find a buyer in Jeremy Strong’s Matthew, but when Dry Eye (Henry Golding) tries to make a move on Mickey’s empire, things get a little too complicated. On top of that, Mickey’s right-hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam) has to deal with an ambitious, and somewhat sleazy cunning private eye in Fletcher (Hugh Grant), who is under employment from Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) to write a big story.

I won’t lie, I’ve been looking forward to The Gentlemen since I heard about, and it really did not disappoint. The movie is truly a Guy Ritchie film, but with some grown maturity from the filmmaker. The film throws you right into the action of everything with the movie mainly being told through the framing device of Fletcher telling Ray what he’s found out. Because of that, the first act of the movie is pretty exposition heavy, but Ritchie’s setting the stage for everything that’s about to come.

The movie doesn’t really slow down too much, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your viewing. Honestly, the only thing that I would count against the movie is sometimes the plot can get convoluted, and Michelle Dockery, who plays Mickey’s wife Rosalind, doesn’t have too much to do expect one pretty out there scene that surprisingly works.

If the plot doesn’t draw you in then maybe the cast will. McConaughey plays it pretty straight despite him playing a weed kingpin, but it’s the confidence that he drips makes the character. Hunnam’s Ray is a loyal soldier to Mickey and besides dealing with Fletcher, he deals with another subplot in the movie. Henry Golding’s Dry Eye isn’t the most interesting “villain” in the movie, and you can clearly see his ambition gets the better of him. Jeremy Strong’s Matthew still a character you like to hate, which the handful of scenes he has.

Easily, the two show-stealing performances belong to Colin Farrell’s Coach, a boxing coach to the local young kids, and is a much more important character than you think. Then there’s Hugh Grant, who is having a BALL playing Fletcher, as he chews up the scenery every time he’s on. He’s a bit scummy, but it’s hard to hate him.

All in all, The Gentlemen is an entertaining gangster comedy from beginning to end, with a great cast and catchy dialogue. It’s a fine return to form by Guy Ritchie to the genre, and something I hope we see more of him in the future.

The Gentlemen

Rating: Stamp of Approval

 

‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ Review

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby, Eiza Gonzalez, Eddie Marsan, Cliff Curtis, Lori Pelenise Tuisano and Helen Mirren

Synopsis: Lawman Luke Hobbs and outcast Deckard Shaw form an unlikely alliance when a cyber-genetically enhanced villain threatens the future of humanity.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There are multiple post-credit scenes.*

 

A spinoff movie from the Fast & Furious franchise was always going to happen, it was just a question of when. Back when Fast Five came out, rumblings began to give new addition of the franchise, Dwayne Johnson’s DSS agent Luke Hobbs one, but Universal Pictures never pulled the trigger – admittedly, Johnson became a very busy man afterwards. Fast forward to the drama behind The Fate of the Furious, Universal finally gave Hobbs his movie…and they brought along Jason Statham’s Deckard Shaw along too – due to the studio liking the chemistry between the two on set.

So now we have two of the biggest action stars in Hollywood in a spinoff of one of the biggest and profitable franchises today, and how do you top that? Get the guy that directed the first John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2, David Leitch. Then make it a buddy action comedy, with some sci-fi elements, some laughable insults and, since this is still a movie in the Fast & Furious universe, family.

Hobbs & Shaw has a pretty basic setup, Deckard’s sister, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby), an MI6 agent, and her team try to retrieve a deadly virus codename “Snowflake,” but run into a huge problem in Brixton (Idris Elba), a technology-enhanced agent (read: Black Superman) for a shadow organization that want the virus for nefarious reasons. Hattie ends up injecting herself to get the virus away from Brixton. In the process, she is then labeled a traitor and has to go on the run.

We then jumped forward to seeing Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Shaw (Jason Statham) finding out about the virus going missing, and the two eventually find out they have to work together – something neither of them want to do. However, they have to put their difference aside, somewhat, when Deckard finds out that Hattie is involved, and that the virus will kill her in three days. It becomes a race to the clock to find a way to get the virus out of Hattie, while also on the run from Brixton.

 

Hobbs & Shaw really is its own thing. There is really no mention to the main series, so you don’t necessarily have to have previous knowledge of the main series, but it would help just a tad. The main focus of the movie is to bring out Hobbs and Shaw’s backstory. Obviously on Shaw’s side, we are introduced to Kirby’s Hattie, who is more than capable of taking care of herself, and yes, Helen Mirren’s mother – named Queenie – returns for about five minutes of screen time.

As for Johnson’s Hobbs, he gets to go home, as the trailers point out. We’re introduced to the Hobbs family, which isn’t the best kind of a relationship, and Hobbs’ daughter Sam returns (played by a different actress in Eliana Sua). The dynamic of the Hobbs family adds another layer to Hobbs, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to how the potential franchise of Hobbs & Shaw goes – Johnson isn’t coming back for Fast & Furious 9 – and if they propel that dynamic in the future.

 

But of course people are going to see Hobbs & Shaw for the action, and oh boy, is there a lot of action in this. While the Fast & Furious movies do go a little over-the-top with the stunts – okay, a lot, whatever – Hobbs & Shaw continues that trend, but now with a sci-fi-ish twist with Brixton (he literally has a bike that COMES TO HIM!). The action also has a nice added touch since you got Leitch behind the camera. Is it the best action in the series? Not really, but it’s damn enjoyable to watch happen when it does.

If the action doesn’t do it for you, then maybe the great chemistry between Johnson and Statham will do it for you. It’s mostly the two throwing jabs at each other, and while some don’t land completely, others should get a genuine laugh out of you, or at least make you laugh cringe. Either way, anytime the two are on screen together, and throwing barbs, you’re in for a good time. That said, I would love to see Johnson and Statham team up again, outside the Fast & Furious franchise.

The rest of the cast have their moments. I mentioned Kirby holds her own as Hattie Shaw, and Mirren is only in it for a bit, but she clearly having fun with the role. So let’s talk about Idris Elba as Brixton. Elba is also clearly having fun playing the villain with superhuman strength and some other technological enhancements. While the whole thing is kind of, admittedly, goofy, Hobbs & Shaw knows what it is, so it fits the world we’re watching. Eiza Gonzalez pops in as Madame M, but she doesn’t really add anything despite how they introduce her, Eddie Marsan has a small role as the scientist that created the “Snowflake” virus, Lori Pelenise Tulsano plays Sefina, Hobbs’ mother who could be a scene stealer for some, and Cliff Curtis plays Jonah, who I wish had some more to do.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Hobbs & Shaw, I’ll admit the movie is just a tad bit too long for its own good. Some of it comes from the surprise cameos the movie was able to pull off, and while the cameos are cool and pretty funny, they kind of overstay their welcome and drag the scenes out.  There is also an element that the movie really should have capitalized on, which is when Hobbs and Shaw basically become wanted men, but the movie pretty much ignores all that which is kind of a shame.

All in all, Hobbs & Shaw is a lot of fun, whether you’re going for the action or for the chemistry/insult-fest between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, or even for “Black Superman” himself Idris Elba, the movie has a little something for everyone.

 

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

3.5 out of 5

‘Deadpool 2’ Review

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, Brianna Hildebrand, Stefan Kapicic, Karan Soni, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Terry Crews, Bill Skarsgard, Lewis Tan, Shioli Kutsuna, Eddie Marsan, Leslie Uggams and Rob Delaney

Synopsis: Foul-mouthed mutant mercenary Wade Wilson (AKA, Deadpool), brings together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy of supernatural abilities from the brutal, time-traveling mutant, Cable.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credit bit.*

 

Not only did we get a Deadpool movie, we now have a sequel! After the massive success of the first movie, a movie that many fans have been wanting to see on the big screen, 20th Century Fox had no choice but to make a sequel for the Merc with a Mouth. Of course, some things changed as director Tim Miller was replaced by John Wick and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch and the budget was upped to make the sequel more bombastic. So, does the sequel work, or as Deadpool jokes in the trailer, ruin it?

Deadpool 2 follows Wade/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) as he takes a protector role of sorts for a young troubled mutant, Russell (Julian Dennison), who finds himself in the crosshairs of the time-traveling Cable (Josh Brolin), who wants to kill him. Seeing that he can’t protect Russell by himself, Deadpool puts a team together called X-Force that consists of the “lucky” Domino (Zazie Beetz), Bedlam (Terry Crews), Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard) and Peter (Rob Delaney). What follows is what you’d expect from a Deadpool movie: F-bombs, pop culture references, slight gore and hilarity.

Deadpool 2 is interesting. On one hand, it’s like I previously mentioned, it’s what you expect from a Deadpool sequel. On the other, it brings a storyline you probably wouldn’t expect from a Deadpool movie. That storyline is what really kicks off the movie, and is threaded throughout all the jokes and actions. For the most part is works, but there are times when we cut back to it that it feels a lot like tonal whiplash. It’s not a complete negative, but it wouldn’t be fair to not bring it up. To big fair, the first movie did it too, but I found the actual storyline worked far better here than in part one.

That being said, the movie has a lot, and I mean a lot, of surprises that I truly did not see coming. All I will say is keep your eyes out because the movie is filled with Easter Eggs to the brim.

When it comes to the new characters, the big one is obviously Cable. Brolin already has a long-awaited character out in theaters in another movie, and now he’s bringing the very complicated history character Cable to the big screen. Brolin definitely has the look for Cable – yes, the make fun of the height for you comic book purist – and the attitude. Cable is a no nonsense, tough-as-nails badass who is determined to get to Russell by any means necessary. It’s a great introduction to the character, but he doesn’t get a ton of screen time, it is called Deadpool 2 not Deadpool and Cable.

The other characters don’t have a ton of development, especially when it comes to the X-Force members. The only expectation would be Zazie Beetz’ Domino, whose powers are constantly being doubted by Deadpool, even as she uses them at one point. I personally don’t know too much about Domino from the comics, but her personality in the movie is rather laid back, which Beetz does to perfection here. That leaves us with Russell, played by Hunt for the Wilderpeople standout Julian Dennison. Russell plays an important part to both Deadpool and Cable, and we get a descent understanding on why he does what he does, and why Cable would be after him.

The returning X-Men characters, Colossus (Stefan Kapicic), and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) are now joined by Yukio (Shioli Kutsuna). Colossus does have a little more to do this time around, but they’re really just there for Deadpool to make more jokes about the X-Men.

One thing I will say I’m just a tad bit disappointed by is the action. Don’t get me wrong, the action is good, but it’s not to the level of John Wick or Atomic Blonde, which again, were directed by David Leitch. There’s one scene in the beginning of the movie that is a little to choppy, which is a shame, because it could have been really cool if we saw what was going on a little more clearly. Again, the action isn’t bad, the later action sequences are great the watch, but that would be my nitpicky pick.

All in all, Deadpool 2 is a hell of a lot of fun. Jam-packed with jokes, action, surprises and tons of Easter Eggs, the sequel does indeed surpass the previous movie in a lot of ways.

Deadpool 2

4 out of 5

‘Atomic Blonde’ Review

Director: David Leitch

Writer: Kurt Johnstad

Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, John Goodman, Toby Jones, James Faulkner, Roland Moller, Bill Skarsgard, and Eddie Marsan

Synopsis: An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

 

*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*

 

I’ve been sitting on this review for a while, as I was lucky enough to see a free advanced screening of the film at the beginning of the month. Loosely based off the graphic novel titled The Coldest City by Antony Johnston and Sam Hart, Atomic Blonde is the first film solo-directed by David Leitch, one of the co-directors of John Wick. So even before the film was released, we knew that the film would at least have great action scenes, right? Well, yes, it does, but Atomic Blonde isn’t without its faults. However, if anything, it once again proves that Charlize Theron – if you didn’t know already – is a total badass.

Atomic Blonde is set within days the Berlin Wall comes down, and follows Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), who is introduced after getting out of a tub of ice water with bruises covering her whole body and a black eye. Lorraine then goes to MI6 to get debriefed by her boss Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA agent Emmett Kurzfeld (John Goodman). The film then is told through flashbacks. Lorraine is bought in after the death of fellow agent Gasciogne (Sam Hargave), who Lorraine had a brief relationship with, who was carrying heavy and sensitive information on him when he died. Lorraine’s mission is to go to Berlin, meet her contact David Percival (James McAvoy), find the information and get out of Berlin alive. However, the mission is thrown for a loop when the list actually does go missing, and the only person that knows anything about the list is a defector codenamed Spyglass (Eddie Marsan). Lorraine not only has to get the information, but get out of Berlin alive.

Since the trailers were released, I have been really looking forward to Atomic Blonde. It had a great cast, the style looked cool and more importantly it looked like Charlize Theron was going to kick a lot – a lot – of ass. Thankfully, we get a lot of Charlize Theron kicking ass. The problem with Atomic Blonde is that before we get to the extreme level of ass-kicking, the film trudges along. The film works along the lines of other spy thrillers by being layered and dense with plot and characters that may or may not betray or want to kill Lorraine. However, some of it doesn’t really work too well.

Sofia Boutella’s character Delphine gets introduced, but she doesn’t really do too much in the film other than the promoted sex scene with Theron’s Lorraine. Her character should be more important considering the state of things, but no. Eddie Marsan’s character is introduced early on, but then disappears for the rest of the film until he’s needed again. Although I wish we got a little more of him especially since he’s an important part to everything, but I can see why he’s gone. James McAvoy seemed like he was having fun playing his David Percival. He’s a bit snarky, unpredictable and sometimes straight-out untrustworthy, but he’s still damn fun to watch. It’s also great to see him clash with Theron’s Lorraine, considering their styles are so different.

However, the film belongs to Theron. She’s a force from beginning to end, and never turns it off. Her character is cold and distant, but considering the lifestyle she lives it makes sense. That also makes her a death machine to anyone stupid enough to mess with her, but she also gets hurt like everyone else which is a nice touch. Add that the fact that she did a lot of her own stunts, because you can clearly see her face throughout the fight scenes makes those fight scenes more believable and awesome. Including an amazing ten-minute or so non-stop action scene that feels like its unbroken and probably one of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen on the big screen.

All in all, Atomic Blonde is a worthy action spy thriller worth your time. While the film faces some pacing issues that bring the film down, and loaded a bit too much for its own good, director David Leitch still puts together a great action film with a great lead in Charlize Theron. I wouldn’t personally put Atomic Blonde next to John Wick, but if you’re feeling left out story-wise, the action should hold you over.

Atomic Blonde

4 out of 5

‘The World’s End’ Review

worlds_end_ver4

Dir: Edgar Wright

Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Rosamund Pike

Synopsis: Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival.

 

*Review Note: This is a non-spoiler review as always.”

 

All good things must come to an end, and in this case, with a pint of beer. Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost bring an end to their so called “Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy” (or The Cornetto Trilogy) with The World’s End. The trilogy started with Shaun of the Dead then to Hot Fuzz and while the movies aren’t sequels or share the same universe (besides all being set in the U.K and have the ice cream Cornetto) the movies do share the same themes. Every movie has theme of friendship and growing up in some senses.

In the early nineties a group of five friends, led by fearless schoolboy rebel Gary King (Pegg), attempted to complete the infamous “Golden Mile.” It consists of twelve pubs and the goal for Gary is to have one beer at each. But, they have never made it to the end. Now an adult Gary convinces and drags his now estranged friends Andy (Frost), Oliver (Freeman), Peter (Marsan), and Steven (Considine) complete the journey from years past. Unfortunately for Gary all of them have grown up and are successful businessmen, husbands, and fathers but they reluctantly follow him back to their small town of Newton Haven.

But during the crawl they realize that the townsfolk are a bit different and odd. Eventually finding out (the hard way) the town has been taken over by robots impersonating their former neighbors. Already a bit buzzed at this point they decide to finish the crawl thinking they’ll be safe, but of course their not.

It’s probably going to be a bit hard for people to not compare this with the previous films and you shouldn’t. Unlike the other films, Pegg is the oddball here and not Frost. Pegg even though an adult still acts like he’s a teenager and may make him unlikeable to many viewers, which is okay. That’s kind of the point. It’s Pegg’s performance however that so great it’s fun to watch. It’s near the end that his performance shows Pegg isn’t just a comedic actor.

Interestingly at the other end, its Frost that is cast against type in the role of Andy, a corporate lawyer, a rugby player, and family man. He was once Gary’s best friend but something happened that made them drift apart. It a nice change to see the switch around and the tension between the two is fun, different, and more mature to see.

The film features plenty of familiar faces, but it’s the core of five friends that really carry it. Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine, and Martin Freeman are all given individual moments to shine, but fit in well within the larger ensemble. Rosamund Pike is great when on screen but is given relatively little to do, though she really shows just how Gary never really grew up.

Of course, as with all of Wright’s films, everything is wrapped in a genre shell. There’s always time for a dramatic moment (that surprisingly doesn’t slow down the movie much) even if blue-blooded robots are looking to hurt our heroes. But it’s the robot design that’s pretty cool. The robots are kind of ceramic/plastic filled vessels with blue blood, and shine blue light from their eyes and mouth when angered. To an average moviegoer, it might seem lazy but combine it with Wright’s sense of style it’s pretty smart.

All in all, The World’s End is very different from the past films and steps up the game acting wise and action wise. Seriously the fights scenes in the movie caught me off guard. However, this being the last film of the Cornetto Trilogy it is truly a great way to go out.

 

 

The World’s End

4.5 out of 5