Review: Jason Bourne (2016)

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It’s been nine years since Matt Damon starred as the titular amnesiac assassin of the Bourne series, with the third instalment providing complete closure to his arc. And yet, after a failed spin-off, Damon has found his way back for another outing that incorporates many modern-day issues to fit with the times, such as the exponential development of social media and privacy concerns, but never fully warrants its existence. Continue reading “Review: Jason Bourne (2016)”

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Review: The Zero Theorem (2014)

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Five year’s since the release of The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, Terry Gilliam returns with the intriguing, yet much too scattered sci-fi fantasy The Zero Theorem. Set in a dystopian, tech-obsessed future, it starts well and boasts a strong performance by Christoph Waltz as computer hacker Qohen Leth, who loathes the chaotic environment of ManCom and so is relieved when Management (Matt Damon) assigns him to a different task: determining the Zero Theorem. Continue reading “Review: The Zero Theorem (2014)”

Review: Elysium (2013)

Elysium

Writer and director Neill Blomkamp burst onto the scene four year’s ago with District 9, one of the most distinguished feature debuts of recent memory. That film saw him deliver a morally complex, emotionally perverting, technically superb film that surpassed expectations to the tune of $210M worldwide. His next film Elysium – set in the year 2154 where the wealthy have abandoned a shattered Earth in favour of a man made space station free of diseases, pain and suffering – sees him up the ante, yet retain that winning blend of action and social commentary. Continue reading “Review: Elysium (2013)”

Review: Behind The Candelabra (2013)

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Fresh from Cannes where it competed for the prestigious Palme d’Or and its subsequent airing on American cable network HBO, Behind The Candelabra is presented as Steven Soderbergh’s final feature film. It’s undoubtedly a triumphant note for the director to end on, and will surely be celebrated – alongside Magic Mike and Side Effects – for its boldness as much as its authenticity and the emotional resonance it provokes. Continue reading “Review: Behind The Candelabra (2013)”

Review: The Bourne Legacy (2012)

With Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) on the run and the media close to blowing the lid on the CIA’s heavily guarded special operation programs, Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is forced to take dramatic action, not only closing down each and every program, but also killing every single agent in the field. Unfortunately for them, Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) narrowly escapes the attacks, albeit without his performance enhancing medication, and tracks down geneticist Marta Shearing Continue reading “Review: The Bourne Legacy (2012)”

Review: Margaret (2011)

Written and directed by filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan (only his second directorial feature after the multi award-winning You Can Count On Me), Margaret is a rambling, overpowered modern drama that bravely taps into people’s post 9/11 fear and hostility. Delayed, re-edited and shrouded in several still unfolding lawsuits, Lonergan’s effort seemed unlikely to see the light of day. But, thankfully Margaret now makes its way to cinema screens, albeit in a limited capacity, bearing the mark of its six year journey.

When tumultuous college student Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) is involved in a horrific bus accident that claims the life of a compassionate woman (Allison Continue reading “Review: Margaret (2011)”

Review: Contagion (2011)

Returning to her family in Minnesota after a business trip in Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff’s (Gwyneth Paltrow) supposed bad case of jet lag takes a turn for the worse. Suddenly racked with severe seizures, she dies in hospital. However, her mysterious disease quickly begins to spread, forcing researchers from the Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Orginization (Kate Winslet, Lawrence Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle and Marion Cotillard) to face the crisis head on as they work to manage emerging clusters, develop a cure and trace the growing epidemic back to Continue reading “Review: Contagion (2011)”

Review: The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

On the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate, ambitious politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets beautiful contemporary ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) – a woman like none he’s ever known.

But just as he realizes he’s falling for her, mysterious men conspire to keep the two apart. David learns he is up against the agents of fate itself – the men of ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ – who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together.

In the face of overwhelming odds, he must either let her go and accept a predetermined path…or risk everything to defy fate and be with her.

Adapted from Philip K. Dick’s short story Adjustment Team, George Nolfi’s directorial debut has all the typical elements of a traditional thriller, but instead –  and to its merit – shifts focus onto the sincerity of its love story, the intensity and sting of its dialogue and the poignancy of its two lead characters.

Nolfi’s script is compellingly light on its feet, merrily skimming over any laboured exposition on the deep, underlying questions in an old-fashioned Hollywood way; and there’s a wonderfully pleasant, authentically believable echantment between Damon and Blunt.

Visually, the film is stylishly shot by John Toll. The sumptuous New York backdrop is bathed for all its worth, resolving the action sublimely with a peerless top-of-the-world, eloquent climax, thanks in no part to the pulsating score and symbolic use of natural lighting through mise-en-scène.

In terms of drama, The Adjustment Bureau doesn’t quite set all lights blazing, and the overall story lacks in the kind of gut-wrenching twist or moment of pathos that would propel it to a higher stature. But in no way shape or form does this infringe upon the overall point of the film – the sincere, clever and unique romantic nature.

The heart of the film, and the films most impressive element, is the plausible relationship between David and Elise, so exquisitely played by Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, who both exude a captivating level of warmth and naturalism that makes their potentially life-threatening romance instantly credible and captivating to behold.

Damon sturdily channels David’s bruised side, contrasting this with his level-headed political disposition, giving an extraordinarily full-bodied, comprehensive performance, one that will undoubtedly be shamefully overlooked.

And Blunt, in arguably her most enthralling role since The Devil Wears Prada, undercuts Elise’s cutting, untrustworthy exterior with her honest, vulnerable inner heart to perfect, pertinent avail. Her ballet skills may not be the best, but she more than makes up for that in other, more necessary areas.

The supporting actors, most notably a very impressive Anthony Mackie, a slick and crafty John Slattery, and an always on-form Terence Stamp, deliver committed, uniformly ardent turns as various members of ‘The Adjustment Bureau’.

The Adjustment Bureau is a fun, thought-provoking uniquely discerning and superbly acted entertainment romance-thriller. Unlike the marking campaign suggests, it isn’t Bourne meets Inception, but it does have the necessary ingredients to stand out as a solid piece of filmmaking.

Review: True Grit (2010)

True Grit, the second adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel of the same name, is the latest film from writer/director duo Joel and Ethan Coen, and a robust one at that.

The film centres on Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), 14-year-old farm girl, who, when her father is murdered, sets out to capture the killer, hired hand Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin). To aid her, she hires the toughest U.S. marshal she can find, Reuben J. Cogburn (Jeff Bridges).

Mattie insists on accompanying Cogburn, whose drinking, sloth, and generally reprobate character do not augment her faith in him. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney.

They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), who wants Chaney for his own purposes. The unlikely trio find danger and surprises on the journey.

The Coen brothers have masterfully constructed a sombre, funny, elegiac and steadfastly if unconventional film, one peppered with sharp, witty one liners and surreal character interactions to lighten the mood.

The unconventional relationship between the unlikely trio is surreal, yet oddly captivating and sentimental. The testing environment and the harsh journey from which they are brought together forces them to establish a life-long, truth-worthy bond.

With the help of their trusty cinematographer Roger Deakins, the Coens use the barron landscape beautifully, capturing the grandeur of ripply rivers, craggy trees and desolate Indian Nations. Each and every visually minimalistic, yet suitably informative shot feels vital and imperative to the films overall tone and semblance.

The real heart of the film, however, lies in the performances. The casting is inspired and exact, and each actor thrives in the rich landscape so delicately constructed by the Coens.

Bridges and 14-year-old newcomer Steinfeld, in particular, give noteworthy and convicted turns as Reuben and Mattie, respectively.

Bridges is outstanding yet again; funny yet meaningful, truly just a juggernaut at the peak of his career. Steinfeld, on the other hand, emerges from obscurity and delivers a blow-away, fearless turn as Mattie, a girl with a vengeance that won’t quit.

Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper all have value and tonality in their respective supporting roles, but unfortunately never match the giddy heights of the two leads.

True Grit – while it may not match the perfection of No Country for Old Men – is a masterfully written, beautifully directed and unforgettably acted Western by the masters of modern-day cinema.