‘A Cure for Wellness’ Review

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Director: Gore Verbinski

Writer: Justin Haythe

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Mia Goth, Ivo Nandi, Adrian Schiller, Celia Imrie, Harry Groener and Jason Isaacs

Synopsis: An ambitious young executive is sent to retrieve his company’s CEO from an idyllic but mysterious “wellness center” at a remote location in the Swiss Alps but soon suspects that the spa’s miraculous treatments are not what they seem.

 

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

 

Gore Verbinski is one of those director’s who makes films that you like or don’t. Sure the same can be said for all directors, but Verbinski also has a weird filmography. From The Mexican, The Ring to the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and finally The Lone Ranger. So while A Cure for Wellness had some potential from the trailers, so it’s a bit of a disappointment to see the film that had a lot of potential and sparks of great scenes, to fall apart.

The film follows Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), a young executive at a financial service firm in New York City who is ordered by his board to go get the firm’s CEO, Pembrooke (Harry Groener), at a spa resort in the Swiss Alps after he sends them a weird letter. However, there is extra incentive for Lockhart in getting back the CEO sooner rather than later, but when Lockhart arrives and Pembrooke doesn’t want to leave, Lockhart leaves to regroup only to get into an accident, get a broken leg and has to stay at the resort. However, the more Lockhart stays, the more mysterious and disturbing the resort is.

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Despite what I said at the beginning, A Cure for Wellness does have some great things going for it. The cinematography by Bojan Bazelli, who has worked with Verbinski on The Ring and The Lone Ranger, is equal parts beautiful and horrifying. Add on the production design and the film looks like it could be set in any time period, with the exception of Lockhart using a cell phone at the beginning of the film. Also, the nice little touches of horror that Verbinski scatters throughout the film adds to the sense of mystery and dread the film needs.

However, when it comes to everything else, it’s a huge hit-or-miss. A Cure for Wellness has too much going on for its good, and that’s saying something considering the film is two-and-a-half hours long. The film essentially has three different stories going on, but only two of them actually make the film worthwhile. Those two storylines involve the history of the resort and how it connects to the head doctor in Volmer (Jason Isaacs) and Hannah (Mia Goth), the only other young person around. There is a third plot point that involves Dane DeHaan’s Lockhart and a personal tragedy, but it doesn’t really feel like it serves the overall narrative, and could have easily been cut out.

When it comes to the cast, the strongest member is Mia Goth, but the negative aspect is that she’s not in the film enough. Hannah serves a great purpose, but the true nature isn’t revealed until the final act, and by then you’d probably figure it out so the impact is lessened. However, it doesn’t make her journey great to watch. When it comes to DeHaan, he’s feel a bit miscasted at the beginning of the film. He’s plays off as “tough” Wall Street guy, but it comes off a bit weird. I don’t know if it’s just me, and it’s nothing against DeHaan either, because I think he’s a great actor when given the right material, and once he’s stripped of the Wall Street guy, he’s good. When it comes to Jason Isaacs, well, at this point he can play a bad guy or mysterious/maybe evil character in his sleep.

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However, the biggest issue I have with the film is the length. I’m not one to usually complain about a film’s length, but A Cure for Wellness’ biggest weakness is how long it is. Like I said before, some of the secrets you could probably figure out or, at least, guess so it takes away some of the impact the reveals have. Another added factor to the length is there are scenes that could have easily been cut, and not affect the final product, and potentially make the film better.

All in all, A Cure for Wellness was a –personal– disappointment. While the film does introduce some interesting concepts it fails to really execute on them or makes them fall flat instead of excite. The only real saving grace in the film is the fantastic visuals, production design and score.

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A Cure for Wellness

3 out of 5

‘Fury’ Review

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Dir: David Ayer

Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jim Parrack, Brad William Henke, Kevin Vance, Xavier Samuel and Jason Isaacs

Synopsis: April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany

 

 

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

 

 

Unlike most wars movies, David Ayer’s Fury sets the action near the end of World War II. The Allied forces are moving into Germany, troops are starting to break down, and the tank forces are down to only a few. The film follows one particular tank, “Fury” which is lead by Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Pitt) and his crew Boyd “Bible” Swan (LaBeouf), Trini “Gordo” Garcia (Pena), and Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis (Bernthal). We find out that they have just lost someone in the crew and has been replaced with new recruit and typist Norman Ellison (Lerman), who is completely out of his element. The crew is then sent out and have survive not just the war but each other, which is easier said than done.

 

We quickly learn who our main characters are. Pitt’s “Wardaddy” is the tough no nonsense sergeant, Pena’s “Gordo” is a hard drinking wise-ass driver, Bernthal’s Grady is the loader and is more “beast than man” as someone points out to him and “Bible” is religious – hence the name – and is the tank’s gunner. The group isn’t perfect. They have their little arguments and fight here and there, but the next minute they would be willing to die for each other. However, the group dynamics really show you how war can break a man and what happens when you do it for a long time.

 

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While we get to know the crew of “Fury,” the story could really be about Wardaddy and Norman. Both men are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to war. One being a seasoned fighter and the other is desperately trying to survive after being thrown in hell. One understands that you need to let the urge to kill off and it’s a kill or be killed world – which he shows him the hard way. The other is still trying to keep his innocence and acts as a surrogate for the audience to show us that these men might be far too gone.

 

This is driven more home by a scene that involves the whole group in a home with two German women (played by Anamaria Marinca and Alicia von Rittberg). The difference is light and day. Although I will admit the scene is a bit long but it does serve its purpose and builds up a lot of tension.

 

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The movie is brutal. Pitt’s Wardaddy even makes a statement that sums it up pretty nicely, “ideals are peaceful, history is violent.” Fury doesn’t hold back on the violence, at all. The first death comes within the first two minutes of the film and it gives you an idea on how violent and brutal the movie is going to be – also the fact that it’s a war movie should give you a good impression too.

 

Of course the movie is about a tank crew, so you can guess there is some a pretty good amount of tank action. The action is pretty great and you get a good feel that these characters have been doing this for a while. They all have their part of play and play it well. They can’t afford to not by in sync because everything needs to be lined up just right. One standout tank sequence comes near the end of the film where it’s a three-on-one tank battle. It’s got great tension, cinematography, and well action.

 

As you can probably assume, the cast is great here. Pitt is obviously good at barking orders, and does have moments where he cuts loose on the action. But it’s also his performance when he’s not being a leader, those moments when it looks like he’s trying to keep a grasp of some humanity. Lerman holds his own against the rest of the seasoned cast and shares most of his scenes with Pitt, and it shows that he stepped up his game to be on that same level of talent.

 

Bernthal is basically the bully and most unhinged of the group, but has his reasons. LaBeouf has his moments and one standout moment near the end but along with Pena doesn’t get much to do and get thrown a bit in the backburner. Jason Isaacs also shows up as a commander that gives “Fury” its order but is nothing more than just a very small role.

 

All in all, Fury is a brutal, action drama that shows us that sometimes heroes are not always perfect and have to cross into the grey area to survive. There are some problems here and there, but the great performances and tank action make the film easy to seat through.

 

Brad Pitt in Fury

 

Fury

4 out of 5