I’ve been watching more TV than films over the past few weeks including the second series of The Morning Show and the long-awaited and excellently made Foundation sci-fi series on AppleTV. I may do a post on the latter show, if I get time. In the meantime here’s a run down of the films I’ve watched in the last couple of weeks. Sad to say, on the whole they weren’t that awe inspiring.
Wrath of Man (2021) is a fairly typical Jason Statham action film involving armoured car robberies. It’s a cut above most of Statham’s films but not your typical Guy Ritchie film, and not as good as The Gentlemen, perhaps because it’s a remake of the 2004 French film Le Convoyeur and lacking in humour.
There’s a good cast, including Josh Hartnett, Scott Eastwood, Andy Garcia and Holt McCallany, but they are mostly underutilised and indeed for the most part so too is Statham, who doesn’t kick as much ass as you’d expect compared to other films and while he thankfully isn’t putting on a fake American accent is largely silent.
Bad Boys for Life (2020) is no better. Michael Bay shows up for a cameo but didn’t direct this time around and those, like me, hoping for some balls-out ‘Bayhem’ will be sadly disappointed. But If you like CG helicopters then stay tuned. Time has been kinder to Will Smith than to Martin Lawrence, and they play on this fact in the screenplay which revolves around Mike’s (Smith’s) past coming back to haunt him in the form of a son and daughter pair of criminals intent on murderation, while Marcus (Lawrence) wants to retire from the police.
There’s some seriously cronky Hollywood physics/biology and childish action sequences which Smith’s acting can only go so far to support. I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous two films but found myself remembering them fondly compared to this dish of reheated tripe. I was hoping for more, but got less. There’s a setup at the end for a possible sequel but hopefully Sony will realise they need to do something original for a change.
Dave Made a Maze (2017) is certainly a kooky and original film, with more heart in it than the two films above. The story is that Dave has made a maze out of cardboard in his apartment and then gone in and got lost inside because, like the TARDIS from Doctor Who, it is bigger on the inside. Not only that it is full of traps. His friends enter the maze against his advice to try and rescue him. As well as the traps that can kill in a stylised arts and crafts kind of way, there is also a minotaur prowling the labyrinth.
The film is low-budget, small but perfectly formed, and the runtime is just as long as it needs to be to get the story told. It is a short breath of fresh air compared to all the usual Hollywood remakes, reboots and sequels. There’s some really nice animated sections and the set design reminded me a lot of Michel Gondry’s work. Certainly worth a look if you fancy ‘something different’.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) is a solid revenge classic directed by Chan-Wook Park director of the 2003 original and hugely enjoyable Old Boy and the excellently bonkers The Handmaiden. I’ve seen it billed as simply Lady Vengeance but since Chan-Wook Park did another film called Sympathy for Mr Vengeance I like to stick with the longer title for the sake of symmetry. I’ve seen Lady before, but so long ago I had forgotten most of the plot, and it’s referred to as one of Park’s ‘revenge trilogy’ along with Old Boy and the Mr Vengeance which I may have also already seen years ago and forgotten.
It’s a great film and tells the story of Geum-ja Lee who has been in prison for 13 years for a crime she didn’t commit. She took the fall for the murder of a child and wants revenge on the true killer. Once she’s hunted him down and kidnapped him, rather than mete out justice on her own she gathers together all the parents of the other children he has killed and enables them to take out whatever violent revenge they want on him. It’s a bloody business, but actually most of the violence is off camera, and the final scenes are set up to prompt the viewer to ask themselves “what would I do?”. Lee Yeong-ae who plays Geum-ja Lee is excellent in the title role and the close up on her mixed emotions as the killer is buried in the woods are a classic bit of Korean cinema.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) is last on this list and neck and neck with Bad Boys for Life as the weakest of this bunch. Despite all the effort that went into redesigning the character there’s no getting around the fact that the script is pretty dreadful and a lot of the VFX are pretty dodgy looking. But hey, this is a kid’s film so we shouldn’t expect Dune – level effects I guess.
There’s some fun to be had and indeed Jim Carrey is great as the mad scientist Dr Robotnik out to capture and harness Sonic’s unlimited energy. He seems to get all the best lines and his physical antics and mannerisms are a joy to watch – you might say a diamond in a pile of squirrel shit. I actually fell asleep while watching this and Siggy will tell you that’s almost unheard of. Thankfully I didn’t miss anything important.