The Call – 2013

the callWhen a veteran 911 operator takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl who has just been abducted, she realizes that she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl’s life.

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What we think: Brad Anderson has directed one of my favourite horrors, Session 9, a film that is not particularly gory but is extremely unnerving in a variety of ways.

It’s a film that leaves chills down your spine and fixates you to the screen, Anderson has a great way of building tension to almost breaking point, and with The Call he’s achieved very much the same.

Halle Berry is 911 operator Jordan Turner who takes hundreds of distressing calls each day and generally manages to keep a cool head when the going gets tough.

One particularly day she takes a call from a young girl who has an intruder in the house, things don’t go well and as a result Jordan takes a back seat from answering the phone to training the next generation of 911 operators.

It’s not long before she’s called back into the fray to face her fears and a familiar foe on the end of the phone, using her nerve and judgement she must help another young teenage girl from facing a similar fate.

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The acting is generally pretty good all round, nothing wooden about these performances as everyone gives their all in making the situation as believable as it can be.

The film holds itself well for the most part, maybe only wobbling when bog standard clichés are introduced into the mix, but its not detracting at all and I genuinely cared about what the outcome would be.

We know that suspense is driven through genuine fear, and there is no fear like being trapped inside the boot of a car which is what happens to young Abigail Breslin after she’s abducted.

During that part of the film where she is frantically on the phone to Jordan looking for a way out, we do wonder if it is really going to be the end for her, and that every chance she gets to raise the alarm is thwarted as is always the case in these types of situations.

The killer has a pretty good motive and the backstory their is somewhat disturbing, its left to the audience to deduce just what his reasoning is for undertaking the horrific crimes.

The film then sets about racing away to the conclusion and it does feel a bit rushed, some have been harsh in their reviews of the way it ended, but personally I enjoyed it.

There was a distinct nod to the original Saw which if that is correct, was a nice touch, although I think that is just me reading into it. Overall its a hell of a lot better than some other main stream thrillers and is definitely worth the time.

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What did you think of The Call, did it have you gripped to your seat or were you less than impressed.

Visit the IMDB page for The Call

 

American Hustle – 2014

american hustleA con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive British partner, Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso. DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia.

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What we think: There’s been a lot of love for American Hustle and with a cast line up such as this it is easy to see why.

It’s a film that oozes glitz and glamour, it has a slick sense of stability and at times shades Scorsese as an attempt at a crime caper.

Sadly American Hustle is overlong and honestly at times a little boring, I found myself shifting in my seat and when that happens its never a good thing.

Bale is top draw, an opening shot that requires no dialogue at all sees Bale’s stomach bloating Irving Rosenfeld carefully craft a balding comb over. Then in walks his partner through out this initial sting, Richie DiMaso (Cooper) with a beautiful perm, and this is just the male cast.

The film is loosely based on a true story, as Bale’s con man falls for Amy Adam’s Sydney Prosser, the pair look to collude together before being nabbed by the FBI and forced to help bring down a circle of corrupt politicians as a way to avoid prosecution.

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This is no heist from the  play book, but a slow churning plan that involves fake sheikhs and mafia bosses and is the brain child of agent DiMaso who looks to target Mayor Carmine Polito () as one of the many poor unfortunates just looking to make change in a growing 70s society.

Supporting cast are exceptional none more so than , as Rosenfeld’s long suffering wife who during proceedings threatens to blow the whole plan wide open.

That’s not to say that Amy Adams isn’t well worth her role, but the wardrobe department must have been short on ideas for her if all that was around were dresses with plunging neck lines.

Overall it plays out well but does suffer confusion as you wonder just who is playing who during the whole affair, but all the way through I  felt that something wasn’t quite right with it.

For me it didn’t have the lasting impact that The Fighter had or even Silver Linings Playbook, but as a film that wants to capture everything the 70s were about it does a stupendous job.

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What did you think of the film, was it what you expected. Leave a comment and let us know.

 

 

 

 

Alex Cross – 2012

alex cross posterA homicide detective is pushed to the brink of his moral and physical limits as he tangles with a ferociously skilled serial killer who specializes in torture and pain.

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What we think: Whoever decided not to recast Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross should be fired on the spot.

Freeman whose played the character twice already in the very good Kiss the Girls and the abject Along Came a Spider would have surely been the front runner here.

Instead they chose Tyler Perry, someone whose more famous for cross (no pun intended) dressing into the character Aunt Madea, alarm bells should have been ringing?

Alex Cross is loosely based on the novel written by James Patterson and focusses on the Detective come Dr as he goes head to head with a venomous serial killer called Picasso (Matthew Fox) who specializes in torture and pain.

Fox is practically unrecognizable as the softly spoken and all over nice guy Jack we were so used to seeing in Lost, here he’s a shaven headed psychopath with an exceptional physique.

Led again into false sense of security with a trailer that actually promised the goods yet delivered on little, I should have paid more attention to the reviews.

To say this film was miscast is an understatement, no one looked comfortable in their roles least of all Perry or Fox, even when the pair have their phone call tradeoffs it lacks in any grittiness you’d expect from a taunting killer.

Freeman brought a sense of depth to the character who given a decent writer and director would make for potentially a solid thriller.

Perry almost didn’t know what to do, maybe he’d have done a better job back in his trademark dress?

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The story is disjointed, Fox’s Picasso runs about killing people and dismembering digits, and then has time to stop and compose some art and do pull ups. Meanwhile, and I have no idea why, the great Jean Reno turns up as some kind of shady, rich business mogul.

With a script from Marc Moss who was also responsible for Along Came a Spider, (those alarm bells should have been going off once again) and directed by Rob Cohen it unfortunately falls flat in almost every area.

Alex Cross is so full of plot holes you could have strained your pasta through it, an opening scene which just barely introduced the main characters and a serial killer who just doesn’t get dug into deep enough to even give a shit.

Let’s face it, how we can be left thinking that Perry could take down Fox with one arm after Fox dispatches an MMA fighter with relative ease at the start of the film?

Perry’s family moments felt like an episode of the Cosby show without the laughs, with Grandma Cross the most annoying of the bunch. When Perry is called upon for some proper acting he’s left wanting.

It’s a rather dull film, littered with inconsistencies and a disastrous script. If the character is ever called on again let’s hope that it falls into better hands.

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Visit the IMDb page for Alex Cross

Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!

Animal Kingdom – 2011

animal kingdom posterTells the story of seventeen year-old J (Josh) as he navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.

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What we think: Animal Kingdom can join a very successful long line of Australian films to pack a heavy handed punch to its audience.

Such films as Chopper, The Boys and Romper Stomper all hailed Aussie filmmaking as being up there with the best of them, you only have to look at the amount of talent that have gone on to bigger things.

Set in urban Melbourne during the mid-1980s Animal Kingdom is a hard look at one criminal family and the young boy they look to devour after his mum dies of a drug overdose.

With nowhere to go J has no choice but to live with his Grandmother, Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody, whose deep sense of loyalty for her family particularly her three sons is unquestionable.

New comer James Frecheville takes the role of J, he’s innocent and naive to the world and is manipulated by the Cody family at every given opportunity.

The acting is sublime, masterfully lead by Ben Mendelsohn’s psycho, a bank robber in hiding he wages a war against the police after an incident leaves him with no alternative to retaliate.

He pulls in the help of his two other brothers, lose cannon Craig () and youngest sibling Darren () as well as J.

It’s the series of events leading up to and after it that turn the film on its head, with J in deep with no obvious way to get out it’s up to Guy Pearce’s local Detective to break the shackles.

It’s feels like you’re immersed as part of the Australian mafia where the law is simple, protect your own at all costs and if one waivers then they’ll be dealt with accordingly.

This is a film that is stripped back to reveal the acting, some may find it dull and have a desperate need for it to get moving, but when it does boy does it move.

Animal Kingdom has a great deal of shock value, but most of it does not stem from violence. Most shocking of all is Janine, the matriarch of the family who goes about her business with a smile.

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Underneath she’s cold and calculating, never one to raise her voice but she acts as the voice of calm and reason. Jacki Weaver was more than deserving of her Oscar nomination for best supporting actress here.

As the title suggests the film plays on the hierarchy of the Cody family, the pecking order within it. Starting from the bottom and working up towards the top, the characters portray a kind of Darwinian nature.

If you give it the time Animal Kingdom will give you the rewards, it’s a drama at its finest and the film should be embraced for that. Director David Michôd has assembled an explosive cast who all stand out in some way.

If there was ever a time that the expression “kill or be killed” was more apparent in the context of a film then this is the one to do so, with a conclusion that’s expected this is one to make sure you don’t miss.

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Visit the IMDb page for Animal Kingdom

Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – 2012

abe vampire hunterAbraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them.

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What we think: Of all the absurd film titles this has to be right up there with the best of them, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is hardly going to set pulses racing, but if you want something that you can tune into and lose yourself with then this has to be it.

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) the film intially focusses on the early life of one Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) whose mother is killed at the hands of a vampire.

Fueled by revenge he goes out and tries to avenge her death, unsuccessfully at first.

He is then taken under the wing of Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) who shows him the proper ways to fight back, in a training montage that makes Rocky’s wood chopping skills look pathetic.

Sturges leaves Lincoln to go off on his own but sends him the names of undead that he has to go out and kill on a regular basis, while trying to hide his nocturnal hobby from those closest to him.

First thing to note with this film is many of the techniques that made Wanted a unique action flick are used considerably throughout, a bit too much for me.

CGI in film should be used sparingly as far as I’m concerned, but when faced with a scene where there is no feasible way you could shoot for real then it’s a perfect solution.

When Lincoln is giving chase to Jack Barts (Marton Csokas) across a stampede of wild horses it provides a great action sequence for which CGI comes into its own.

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In-fact pretty much all the action sequences use this, and with the climactic train sequence proving a highlight to the end of the film it’s not anywhere near enough to make it a standout, you can only hide behind special effects for so long before you’re going to get found out.

There is a pause in proceedings, a chance to catch breath from all that over the top action, as Lincoln puts down his silver coated axe and follows a career in politics looking to abolish slavery as well as vampires. His lifelong friend Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie) also joins him on this quest as his personal Presidential aide.

Of course it turns out that vampires are unable to kill their own as we see from a brief flash back where Dominic Cooper is mindlessly attacked and his beloved taken from him, so he clearly has a motive as well.

It’s all harmless fun, and while the late Abe Lincoln provides some small resemblance to Liam Neeson with a beard (was it only me that thought that) it’s a far fetched and totally ludicrous story that you cannot take too seriously for a minute.

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Visit the IMDb page for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!