Review: London Has Fallen (2016)

image

In this doubly preposterous and cut-price sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, Gerard Butler returns to punch, stab and shoot his way through the destruction in order to get the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart) to safety once more as no-nonsense Secret Service agent Mike Banning. This time, the action has relocated to London, where heads of state from around the world have converged for the Prime Minister’s funeral. Continue reading “Review: London Has Fallen (2016)”

Advertisements

Review: Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Olympus Has Fallen

After years of being miscast in laughable rom-com’s opposite such talentless faces as Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler rediscovers his calling with Olympus Has Fallen, a performance that reminds us of why he broke out in the first place. It’s a shame, then, that the film itself doesn’t match up to its stars surprisingly shipshape standards, often falling short to cheesy dialogue, annoying patriotism and an overstretched running time. Continue reading “Review: Olympus Has Fallen (2013)”

Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Eight years after the grisly events that resulted in the death of Harvey Dent, Batman is nowhere to be seen and the city of Gotham has become a place of peace and mutual co-operation under the Dent Act. However, when a ruthless madman named Bane (Tom Hardy) rises from the darkest depths of the world and begins to take advantage of the city’s new-found order, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is forced to call upon Wayne Enterprises’ virtuoso Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Continue reading “Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)”

Review: Rabbit Hole (2010)

Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie Corbett (Aaron Eckhart) are a happily married couple whose perfect world is forever changed when their young son, Danny (Phoenix List), is killed by a car.

Becca tries to redefine her existence in a surreal landscape of well-meaning family and friends. Her experiences lead her to find solace in a mysterious relationship with a troubled young comic-book artist, Jason (Miles Teller) – the teenage driver of the car that killed Danny.

Becca’s fixation with Jason pulls her away from memories of Danny, while Howie immerses himself in the past, seeking refuge in outsiders who offer him sympathy and condolences. The couple, both adrift, make disconcerting and hazardous choices as they find ways to cope with their loss.

Rabbit Hole, based on a stage play by David Lindsay-Abaire’s, is a piercing portrait of a couple struggling to cope with the death of their son. Lindsay-Abaire, who also wrote the screenplay, provides an surprisingly funny, intensely honest insight into how grief can affect people and force them in opposing directions.

The writing style is sly and witty – sometimes crushing, sometimes downright nasty – cleverly punctuating the overriding sense of despair, which, in tell, provides hope to the couple and their future.

John Cameron Mitchell’s direction is nuanced and fraught, encapsulating the grief with a certain level of restraint that manages to keep us far enough out-with the emotional core of the film, so not to become too troubled by the distressed subject-matter.

The emotional outbursts are as accustomed as they are agonising, accentuated perfectly by Kidman and Eckhart’s, whose raw performances never lets the material slip into the melodrama.

The performances from the entire cast are irreproachable. Kidman’s Becca is fragile and antsy, abandoned by her friends and former colleagues she lashes out at her family’s clumsy efforts to help. It’s clear that there is no way of curing the feeling of grief that’s become central to her being, when everyday life and occurrences become harrowing remembrances.

Eckhart’s Howie, on the other hand, is a less intricate but no less integral character, one that naturally exudes warmth and affection. He’s the devoted husband – and former father – who eats, sleeps and breathes his family. Even after all they’ve been through, he still has the desire, and strength, to fight to save his broken marriage.

Rabbit Hole is an impressively crafted, highly emotive and competent piece of cinema, bolstered by stand-out performances from Kidman and Eckhart.

Review: Thank You For Smoking (2005)

Thank You For Smoking is based on  the 1994 novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. It follows the schemes of Big Tobacco’s chief spokesman, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), who twists the truth on behalf of cigarettes while trying to remain a role model for his twelve-year-old son, Joey (Cameron Bright).

It is, essentially, a clever, humorous and effervescent satirical comedy. Plainly it provides a host of fascinating truths about the tobacco dispute – some of them true, some of them false – sugar-coating and simplifying them to appeal to our emotions. Jason Reitman’s direction is rapid, enlightened, and irrefutable; his writing overflowing with ripe, razor-sharp dialogue, one-liners and tantalising characters.

Eckhart is simply outstanding as Nick, the Vice President of the Academy of Tobacco Studies, an organisation that studies the effects of smoking on the nation’s health. He plays the character with an almost effortless level of charm and incredible versatility, delivering Nick’s lines with an arrogant, yet loveable nature. In one scene we’ll be admiring his candidness and, in the next, we’ll accept him as the devoted father-figure.

The structure, at times, seems a little dismayed, and the investigation into the tobacco industry feels somewhat rudimentary, but these are minor issues, ones that only slightly detract from the overall enjoyment. That said, Eckhart and the entire supporting cast – in particular J.K Simmons, who delivers his lines like he’s only vaguely grasped their meaning and accuracy – each deliver equally measured, good-humoured performances, bringing an astounding sense of believability to their respective characters and, in turn, the whole film.

Thank You For Not Smoking, trivial flaws aside, is an assured, witty and intelligent debut from writer-director Jason Reitman, with an exuberant, stand-out performance from Eckhart.