Tag Archives: 2022 movies

Memory (2022) Review

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Memory (2022)

Time: 104 Minutes
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Alex Lewis
Guy Pearce as Vincent Serra
Monica Bellucci as Davana Sealman
Harold Torres as Hugo Marquez
Taj Atwal as Linda Amistead
Ray Fearon as Gerald Nussbaum
Director: Martin Campbell

When Alex, an expert assassin, refuses to complete a job for a dangerous criminal organization, he becomes a target. FBI agents and Mexican intelligence are brought in to investigate the trail of bodies, leading them closer to Alex. With the crime syndicate and FBI in hot pursuit, Alex has the skills to stay ahead, except for one thing: he is struggling with severe memory loss, affecting his every move. Alex must question his every action and whom he can ultimately trust.

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While I generally like Liam Neeson’s action movies, they are very samey and repetitive and there’s only a few I’d call really good. I heard some mixed things about his latest film Memory, but I was willing to check it out, especially with Martin Campbell directing it. Having seen it, I wouldn’t call it good but overall, I liked it.

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Memory is a very generic revenge crime thriller. Essentially its two separate movies in one, following Liam Neeson’s hitman getting revenge, and Guy Pearce and his FBI team investigating a child trafficking ring and tracking down Neeson. The story is average and isn’t that interesting, but it is watchable and it is easy to understand what’s going on. The mystery wasn’t that intriguing, it pretty much tells you (almost spoonfeeds you) exactly what’s going on. It doesn’t help that it is predictable, and you can tell what’s going to happen. There are some interesting aspects which had potential. The title of the film is Memory because Liam Neeson’s character is suffering from memory loss. It does dedicate some scenes to that, and they could’ve done something with it. However, it almost just feels placed in there so he can struggle in convenient moments.

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Liam Neeson has done many of these types of movies before, but he’s generally good in all of them and at least seems committed to the roles, Memory is no exception. This is darker than some of his other characters, leaning into being more an antihero. He does well at appearing convincingly intimidating but still manages to convey vulnerability in some scenes. Guy Pearce is also in a major role and is really good, giving some sincerity to his FBI agent character. Both Neeson and Pearce are probably the reason that I enjoyed the movie despite its major faults. The rest of the cast including Taj Atwal and Ray Stevenson plays their parts well too. The only exception is Monica Bellucci as the closest thing to a main villain in the movie. She’s given so little screentime, doesn’t do much, isn’t interesting, and even the performance is very bored and phoned in.

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Martin Campbell directs this, and unfortunately this is not one of his greater action films like Casino Royale or The Mask of Zorro. Nonetheless it is still competently made. The visuals aren’t that interesting, but are serviceable nonetheless. The action isn’t as frequent as you would like it to be, when it’s on screen it is pretty good, if standard and mostly consisting of typical fighting and gun battles.

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Memory was a better movie than I was expecting given its reception, but it’s not like I don’t understand it. It’s another disappointing movie from Martin Campbell, who has delivered some great action movies in the past, but whose recent work has been fairly underwhelming. Even when you compare it to his weaker movies, this is probably one of his worst yet. Ironically, Memory is a very forgettable movie that’s mostly let down by its script. That being said, the direction is competent, the action is enjoyable, and the performances are mostly solid, particularly with Liam Neeson and Guy Pearce’s committed work. If you generally like Neeson’s other action movies, you’ll probably find stuff to enjoy here.

After Yang (2022) Review

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After Yang

Time: 96 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse language
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Jake Fleming
Jodie Turner-Smith as Kyra Fleming
Justin H. Min as Yang Fleming
Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja as Mika Fleming
Haley Lu Richardson as Ada
Director: Kogonada

When his young daughter’s beloved companion, an android named Yang malfunctions, Jake searches for a way to repair him. In the process, Jake discovers the life that has been passing in front of him, reconnecting with his wife and daughter across a distance he didn’t know was there.

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After Yang was one of my most anticipated films of this year. A couple of years ago, I watched Columbus and was very surprised, it was incredible and lingered in the mind long after watching. Naturally I was interested in what director Kogonada would make next. Finally his next film is here, this time a sci-fi movie starring Colin Farrell. His sophomore feature is released about 5 years after his debut movie, but the wait was well worth it.

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After Yang is a very contemplative and meditative movie, and such it really takes its time, especially at the beginning. It might turn off some people who aren’t interested in a slow burn, but I was invested in everything that happened. Despite being set vaguely in the future, much of the setting is kept vague, and it is deliberately focused in telling an intimate story. It uses advancements like robots to help to serve the story, and not necessarily be the focus. Essentially, After Yang is a movie about coming to terms with a potential death in the family. There’s a lot that can be taken from this movie. Without providing the context in the plot I can say that a major part involves memory and losing time. With it involving robots, unsurprisingly it is a movie about what it means to be living the life of a human being and to be alive, but also what it means to be in a family. It even covers adoption and racial identity. After Yang is a very thought-provoking film, especially with the conversations between characters. Its very bittersweet, yet tender and heartfelt, and it sticks with you long after watching. There are some issues I had, even though I liked how it ended, it felt a little abrupt. There is also some corporate conspiracy subplot that was introduced during the movie, but it doesn’t amount to anything. It might’ve been intended as a bit of worldbuilding, but this surveillance part came up more than a couple of times that it distracted a little bit.

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The cast are all great, everyone gives such convincing performances. Colin Farrell is the main focus of the movie and is the standout. This is some of his best work, very subtle yet very powerful. The rest of the cast playing the family are really good, Jodie Turner-Smith, Malea Emma Tjandreawidjaja, and Justin H. Min as Yang the robot. Haley Lu Richardson is also great in her small but notable part.

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As I said earlier, the main reason I was interested in After Yang was its director Kogonada. His work on Columbus was fantastic, and once again he delivers here. Like with Columbus it has a very calming and dreamlike atmosphere, and the cinematography is outstanding and stunning, with some aesthetically pleasing visuals especially with the production design. It’s incredibly edited, especially in the way that they portray memories. Finally, the soundtrack from Aska Matsumiya is beautiful and entrancing, perfectly accompanying the relaxed and mediative vibe of the movie.

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After Yang is another fantastic movie from Kogonada. A mediative, intimate, existential yet beautiful reflection on life, loss and humanity. Its visually stunning, directed incredibly, and made even better with the powerful performances from the cast. I highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already, it’s one of my favourites of this year thus far.

Decision to Leave (2022) Review

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Decision to Leave

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sex scenes, suicide & content that may disturb
Cast:
Tang Wei as Seo-rae
Park Hae-il as Hae-jun
Director: Park Chan-wook

A detective investigating a man’s death in the mountains ends up meeting and developing feelings for the dead man’s mysterious wife in the course of his dogged sleuthing.

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Park Chan-wook is one of my all time favourite filmmakers and I was excited to see him direct another movie, especially since its been 6 years since his last movie (the excellent The Handmaiden). He did not disappoint with Decision to Leave.

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On paper, Decision to Leave looks like a very standard police procedural thriller, the he plot following a detective investigating the death of a man and his mysterious wife. Surprisingly though, its more of a romance, its almost like a Wong Kar-wai film if it was made by Park Chan-wook. I loved the first half, I was engrossed and intrigued with the story. Its filled with detailed clues, deceit, and is layered with important subtleties. That mostly comes down to the central relationship that is unconventional and weird, yet incredibly compelling, and one which I was wrapped up in. The movie isn’t without its issues. Unfortunately, around halfway into the movie (without spoiling anything), there is a notable shift in the story, and I became less invested. There are points where the plot could also get a little too convoluted, more so in the latter part of the story. It’s a film that is deliberately paced across its 2 hours and 20 minutes, it was very appropriate and allowed things to naturally develop, especially with the central romance. However, I found that it could drag in parts (mainly the second half), and there are parts of the movie which could’ve been tightened a little bit. That being said, the film does end on a great and memorable note.

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All the actors play their parts well, but it really comes down to the lead characters played by Tang Wei and Park Hae-il, both of whom are excellent. Their relationship is what kept me invested throughout the film; there is a lot of intimate tension between the two, and you feel that every gesture, glance and action are significant. The relationship felt believable, and the two definitely played a big part in the movie working as well as it did.

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As to be expected, Park Chan-wook’s direction is phenomenal, and Decision to Leave is fantastic on a technical level. The cinematography is spectacular, and the visuals are alluring and vivid. Whether it is showing a mountain, an ocean, or anything else, it captures them beautifully. The camerawork is very creative and inventive, especially with its movement and focus. It is already one of the best shot movies of the year. The editing is energetic and fantastic too, with some particularly outstanding and smooth shot transitions. On top of all those is a hauntingly beautiful score from composer and frequent Park Chan-wook collaborator Jo Yeong-wook, which fits the film perfectly.

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Decision to Leave is another fantastic film from Park Chan-wook. There are some issues I have with it, the second half particularly brings down the movie from being on the level of some of his very best movies. That’s a little disappointing, because everything else is amazing. It is stunning to look at, Park’s direction is outstanding, and for all the faults in the story, the central relationship is compelling and is performed beautifully by Tang Wei and Park Hae-il. Decision to Leave is not to be missed, and it is already one of the best movies of the year.

Three Thousand Years of Longing (2022) Review

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Three Thousand Years of Longing

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language, sex scenes & nudity
Cast:
Idris Elba as the Djinn
Tilda Swinton as Alithea Binnie
Director: George Miller

A lonely and bitter British woman discovers an ancient bottle while on a trip to Istanbul and unleashes a djinn who offers her three wishes. Filled with apathy, she is unable to come up with one until his stories spark in her a desire to be loved.

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Three Thousand Years of Longing was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. While it already had Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba in the lead roles, the main reason I was excited is that it’s the newest film from George Miller, who last directed the incredible Mad Max: Fury Road 7 years ago. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his upcoming movie. The premise seemed a bit vague and simple, and the trailer didn’t really convey much except for its strong visuals. Still, I was curious enough to check it out, and I’m glad I watched it.

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First of all, Three Thousand Years of Longing is nothing like the trailer. It showed the basic premise and there are certainly some crazy visuals, but that’s not the nature of the movie. Its not a bombastic spectacle, and its certainly not as chaotic and fast paced as it appeared in the trailers, nor is it as thrilling compared to Miller’s last movie. In fact, it is more of a subdued, endearing and existential fairy-tale love story for adults. The plot and storytelling is more straightforward than you might think it would be. For the most part, this movie surrounds a conversation between Idris Elba’s djinn genie and Tilda Swinton, as he offers her 3 wishes and recounts stories from his past. It is a sincere thought provoking character study about stories (and the importance of them), and a meditation on life, love, and desire. The movie has a lot of narration, and while it can be hit or miss in movies, it fits here given that characters are actually telling stories here. Its very dialogue heavy as you would expect, and I found the conversations between Elba and Swinton to be compelling. In the opening 10 minutes, I wasn’t really sure about what was happening with the story or what direction it is going in. However, it picks up the moment that Idris Elba comes out of the bottle. The third act is a bit out of place from the rest of the movie, it stumbles a little and the pacing is weird. While I was satisfied with the movie, I couldn’t help but feel like it could’ve been longer. Perhaps it was originally longer and was cut down for the theatrical cut, an hour and 50 minutes does feel a little short. Part of that is that it feels a little rushed towards the end, even though I enjoyed it.

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As for acting, it really comes down to the lead performances from Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, both of them are great. They are genuine in their parts, and I like the relationship that they form. I will say however that I wished we got to learn more about Swinton’s character. At some points she talks about her life, but not a great amount, and it particularly pales when compared to all the stories that Elba tells of his very long life.

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George Miller directs, and once again his work is incredible, very stylish and creative. He already showed this in Mad Max: Fury Road, but he really is a master of visual storytelling. There are some spectacular sequences, and it was great to experience this in the cinema. The camerawork and cinematography are sweeping and amazing, and the visuals are stunning. There is also so much care put into the set decoration and designs. There is a lot of CGI in this, and sometimes is looks great. At other times however, it looks a bit weird, almost like it’s unfinished. The score from Tom Holkenborg is amazing, and some of his very best work.

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Three Thousand Years of Longing is definitely rough in parts, some of the CGI is a bit dodgy, and parts towards the second half do feel a bit awkward, and it could’ve afforded to have been a little longer. It is also definitely not for everyone, as can be seen with the disappointing box office. It wasn’t helped by the poor marketing, but then again, its not an easy movie to sell to audiences. It’s a shame because it’s the kind of film that we don’t get a lot of nowadays; director driven, sincere, and not afraid to be creative, weird or different. With Three Thousand Years of Longing, George Miller has created a $60 million arthouse movie. The story is genuine and compelling, Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton are great, its visually beautiful, and Miller’s direction and craft are on full display here. I know its not for everyone, but I do think its worth checking out. One of the most surprising movies of 2022.

Nope (2022) Review

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Nope

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, horror scenes & offensive language
Cast:
Daniel Kaluuya as Otis Jr. “OJ” Haywood
Keke Palmer as Emerald “Em” Haywood
Steven Yeun as Ricky “Jupe” Park
Brandon Perea as Angel Torres
Michael Wincott as Antlers Holst
Wrenn Schmidt as Amber Park
Keith David as Otis Haywood Sr.
Director: Jordan Peele

Residents in a lonely gulch of inland California bear witness to an uncanny, chilling discovery.

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Nope was one of my most anticipated movies of 2022, simply because it’s the newest film from Jordan Peele. I loved his past work with Get Out and Us, and while I didn’t know much about Nope except the cast and theories about what it might be about, I was very interested in it. I had to wait about an extra month before I could watch the movie, but I finally got the chance to watch Nope, and it did not disappoint.

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Much like Jordan Peele’s other movies, Nope is really worth going into blind, so I’ll try to keep details regarding the plot to a minimum. Nope has a considerably larger scale compared to his past movies, and I think the ambition paid off. This is definitely a genre picture and a love letter to sci-fi, there are even whimsical moments that are reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s movies. At the same time, it is thematically dense and layered with biting social commentary. I won’t go into too much depth with what the movie is about, but I can some of the prominent themes include, exploitation (particularly of animals), and how people can turn trauma, violence and tragedy into spectacle for the masses and profit; ironically, Nope is a spectacle about a spectacle. It explores the dark truth of what it means to create or capture an extravaganza, and asks whether it is worth it at all. There’s a lot here that can be unpacked and analysed, and it had me reflecting on some moments and choices hours after watching the film. As expected with it being a Jordan Peele movie, Nope has some comedy which fits surprisingly well and is entertaining. At the same time, it equally handle the horror well too. Between the three Peele movies, this is probably his least scary film thus far. Still, there is this a looming sense of dread throughout, with eerie tension and a terrifying atmosphere. It also has probably the scariest scene I’ve seen from his movies; its halfway through the movie and lasts for probably less than a minute, but it was one of the most unnerving scenes I’ve seen from a recent horror film. Nope is a long movie at 130 minutes and the slow pacing might turn some people off, especially early on when it’s setting up the story. However, it worked for me, and it culminated in a highly satisfying third act.

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The small but intimate cast give great, subtle and layered performances here. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer play the protagonists, and they are fantastic here. They are very believable and share a convincing on-screen sibling bond together. The rest of the cast including Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea, Michael Wincott, Keith David and more are really good too, each of them adding something to the movie.

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Jordan Peele once again delivers on his direction, this time helming his biggest movie yet. The cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema is absolutely stunning. It excellently captures the sky at different times of the day, and particularly shines with the scenes taking place at night. The scenes of tension are also very effective, even simple shots of clouds manage to feel unnerving. It’s perfectly edited, and the production and set designs are great. The sound design was also a highlight, amazing and immersive, it was really something to experience the film in the cinema. On that note, the music from Michael Abels is dynamic and fantastic.

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Nope was fantastic, it is already one of my favourite movies of the year: a tense, thematically dense and spectacular sci-fi horror movie. Jordan Peele’s writing and direction are incredible as usual, and the cast deliver excellent performances, especially Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. There’s a lot to unpack with this movie with its themes and what its saying; there’s a lot there and it is definitely one I need to rewatch. But for now, I can say that it is another great movie from Peele, and possibly his best yet.

Spiderhead (2022) Review

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Spiderhead

Time: 106 Minutes
Cast:
Chris Hemsworth as Steve Abnesti
Miles Teller as Jeff
Jurnee Smollett as Lizzy
Director: Joseph Kosinski

Two inmates form a connection while grappling with their pasts in a state-of-the-art penitentiary run by a brilliant visionary who experiments on his subjects with mind-altering drugs.

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Spiderhead didn’t receive the best reception when it released on Netflix, but I was curious to check it out. The premise and trailer did look interesting, most of all however is the fact that Joseph Kosinski helmed it, and earlier he delivered the especially great Top Gun: Maverick this year. So I went into it open minded and came out pleasantly surprised, even if it could’ve been a lot better.

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First of all, I liked the idea of this dystopian sci-fi thriller premise which definitely had potential, with it focussing on a prison with convicts having mind altering drugs tested on them. Spiderhead is a slow burner and doesn’t move quickly, but it was intriguing enough to me; there was always something that had me interested in seeing how everything would play out, and it was playing. Also, I liked that it was goofier and weirder than expected, it gave the movie an off kilter personality. That being said, the writing is the weakest part of the movie. For all its ideas and potential, it could’ve been so much more. It felt like the script was undeveloped and needed a lot more fleshing out. It definitely plays around with some thought provoking ideas, but doesn’t do much with them. It feels like it could’ve been made as an hour long Black Mirror episode, or feature length if there were a few more rewrites. The characters are well acted, however they aren’t that interesting outside of maybe Chris Hemsworth’s character. At a certain point form the third act to the ending, it just really falls off with no effective thrills. It seems to give up on taking any of its themes anywhere interesting and rushes towards a very predictable and safe climax.

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The acting is one of the best parts of the movie. Miles Teller delivers some really good work in his second collaboration with Joseph Kosinski this year, here playing the protagonist. The rest of the cast are also solid including Jurnee Smollett, although her character is unfortunately underutilised despite playing a notable part in the movie. However out of all of them, Chris Hemsworth is the standout in a rare villain role; his natural charisma is utilised incredibly well, and the movie lights up whenever he appears on screen. This is one of his best performances, and between this and Bad Times at the El Royale, I would like to see Hemsworth more in these types of different roles because he’s great at it.

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Joseph Kosinski’s last sci-fi movie was 9 years ago with Oblivion, so it was nice to see him to return to the genre with Spiderhead. Overall his direction is very solid. The cinematography is strong, and the production design works with the futuristic interiors, as well as the remote island that it takes place on. The sound design is effective too, its strong on a technical level. The score from Joseph Trapanese adds a lot to the movie, and the soundtrack on the whole really adds personality to the tone of the movie.

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Spiderhead isn’t one of Joseph Kosinski’s best, in fact its probably his worst movie yet. That being said, there’s a lot that works here and I probably like it more than most people. The actors are really good in their parts, especially Miles Teller and Chris Hemsworth, and Kosinski’s direction is solid on the whole. There’s even some tense and enjoyable moments throughout, and I like some of the ideas here. It’s just that the story and script needed a lot more fleshing out to really work, and feels subpar when compared to the other much better sci-fi movies that it is taking from. Still, I’m glad that I watched it.

Thirteen Lives (2022) Review

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Thirteen Lives

Time: 147 Minutes
Cast:
Viggo Mortensen as Richard Stanton
Colin Farrell as John Volanthen
Joel Edgerton as Richard Harris
Tom Bateman as Chris Jewell
Director: Ron Howard

A rescue mission is assembled in Thailand where a group of young boys and their soccer coach are trapped in a system of underground caves that are flooding.

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I remember hearing the story of the rescue of a youth soccer team in a cave in Thailand back in 2018, and its no surprise that a movie would end up being made based on it. That eventually resulted in one such film directed by Ron Howard. I haven’t seen the documentary about the same event called The Rescue which came out a year earlier, but I liked Thirteen Lives.

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Thirteen Lives is well scripted, the story is simple and is told in a straightforward way. I only knew the very basics of the real story, so some of the reveals and directions the story went in did genuinely surprise me, especially with the methods the divers took to rescue the people from the cave. While it is a dramatization and certain moments might’ve been added in just to raise the tension, it keeps any added melodrama to a minimum. The story didn’t need additional work and speaks for itself. Despite knowing the outcome of the story, the stakes felt high and it was compelling watching everyone come together in an effort to try to save all those lives. There isn’t a lot of character development, as a result I do think that it doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that it is aiming for. This is a long movie at 2 hours and 30 minutes long, and while I was invested in what is going on, it does admittedly overstay its welcome a bit, and is a bit too long.

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One of the strongest aspects was the great acting. Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen are great as the cave divers from the UK who try to rescue the boys. The rest of the cast are strong from (an especially great) Joel Edgerton, Tom Bateman, and everyone else, down to the actors who play the kids trapped in the cave.

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Ron Howard directs this movie very well and he especially succeeds at making everything feel effectively tense. The cave diving scenes are some of the highlights of the movie, well shot, riveting and claustrophobic. There is some impressive underwater camera work and great sound design that makes you feel like you’re right there with the divers as they navigate the dark and cramped caves. I can’t speak as to how it was in real life, but it certainly felt authentic. Its also helped by the score from a solid score from an ever reliable Benjamin Wallfisch.

THIRTEEN LIVES (2022)

Thirteen Lives is a solid thriller and admirable retelling of the true events. It may be a little too long and the lack of characterisation does take away from the movie somewhat, but on the whole its really good, with the straightforward storytelling, strong performances, and Ron Howard’s direction. Worth checking out.

Bullet Train (2022) Review

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Bullet Train

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Brad Pitt as “Ladybug”
Joey King as “The Prince”
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as “Tangerine”
Brian Tyree Henry as “Lemon”
Andrew Koji as Yuichi Kimura / “The Father”
Hiroyuki Sanada as “The Elder”
Michael Shannon as “White Death”
Benito A. Martínez Ocasio “Bad Bunny” as “The Wolf”
Sandra Bullock as Maria Beetle
Zazie Beetz as “The Hornet”
Logan Lerman as “The Son”
Masi Oka as the Train Conductor
Karen Fukuhara as a Train Concession Girl
Director: David Leitch

Five assassins find themselves on a fast-moving bullet train from Tokyo to Morioka with only a few stops in between. They discover their missions are not unrelated to each other.

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Bullet Train was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. It’s David Leitch’s (Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, Hobbs and Shaw) next movie which is about a lot of assassins on one train, and has a cast that includes Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Hiroyuki Sanada and many more. I was a little unsure about the movie based on the trailers but I was hoping for the best going into it. While I do think it could’ve been better given the people involved, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

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The writing of Bullet Train is a bit hit or miss. The story is somewhat intriguing with many twists and turns, even if it’s very derivative of other much better films. There are lots of characters with distinct personalities who are disconnected from each other, yet are all connected in the story in some way. There’s a lot of energy throughout and it’s helped by a mostly fast pace. There’s a lot happening with the number of characters involved and the way everything links together, and as such it can be unnecessarily complicated. Also, not all the characters are developed, though that comes with a movie having a very large cast. It is a comedy action movie, and it is very over the top with lots of jokes and quippy dialogue. Perhaps it’s a bit too silly for its own good at times. I have heard some people describe Bullet Train as a collection of skits put together, and I can kind of see what they mean. Every so often, the movie adds a completely new aspect or character into the plot, and sometimes it feels like it’s only there to be random and funny. They aren’t enough to take me out of the movie and I still thoroughly enjoyed it, but its definitely a movie I’ll need to rewatch to see if it still holds up. Despite the silliness of the movie, it can be a bit inconsistent with its tone. There’s more drama and emotion than I was expecting, however it doesn’t always gel with the comedy and goofiness that the film also has. The movie is around 2 hours long and while it doesn’t initially sound long, after watching, it I think it probably could’ve been trimmed by about 10 minutes.

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The strongest aspect of the movie is the massive ensemble cast, everyone is clearly having a lot of fun here. Brad Pitt is in the lead role playing a character that you could easily picture Ryan Reynolds playing as a particularly unlucky assassin. I think he was quite enjoyable in his part, even when there are other characters I was more interested in. The rest of the cast are great including Joey King, Michael Shannon, Sandra Bullock, Andrew Koji, and Hiroyuki Sanada. Not everyone reaches their potential, some characters receive more attention than others. The standout actors in the movie for me were Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry as twins named Tangerine and Lemon. They were a lot of fun to watch and had some memorable moments, but also had some believable chemistry and really sold their characters. Those two honestly could’ve carried an entire movie by themselves.

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David Leitch directs Bullet Train, and I liked his work here. There are some great visuals, and the action sequences are a highlight. The action isn’t quite as strong as in Leitch’s past movies like Atomic Blonde, but they are nonetheless entertaining and well done. The stunts are solid, the camerawork is kinetic, and they are very violent and bloody, especially in the third act where they up the scale and ridiculousness. That being said, the climax does have some dodgy CGI. The soundtrack was decent and had good choices for songs, especially with their scene placements.

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Bullet Train doesn’t quite live up to its potential given its premise and cast, and the writing is definitely messy. However, I can’t deny that I had a lot of fun watching this. The silliness and ridiculousness might be annoying for some people, but I enjoyed it, even if the attempts at humour don’t always work. I liked the style and visuals, the action was entertaining, and the ensemble cast carry the movie (with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry being the standouts).

The Gray Man (2022) Review

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The Gray Man

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, offensive language & cruelty
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as “Sierra Six”
Chris Evans as Lloyd Hansen
Ana de Armas as Dani Miranda
Jessica Henwick as Suzanne Brewer
Regé-Jean Page as Denny Carmichael
Wagner Moura as Laszlo Sosa
Julia Butters as Claire Fitzroy
Dhanush as “Lone Wolf”
Alfre Woodard as Margaret Cahill
Billy Bob Thornton as Donald Fitzroy
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

When the CIA’s top asset — his identity known to no one — uncovers agency secrets, he triggers a global hunt by assassins set loose by his ex-colleague.

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I knew of The Gray Man as it was coming up to its release date, one of the newest movies from the Russo Brothers post Avengers: Endgame. It’s an action spy film with a massive cast including Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas. The movie looked like standard Netflix fare, but I went into it open minded; I found it passable.

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The writing is a mixed bag to say the least. The Gray Man has a generic spy plot and as such it falls into many annoying cliches of the genre. I guess it is fine, but at a certain point the story stops mattering, as there’s a lot more importance placed on the set pieces. You kind of forget what the initial plot setup was by the third act. It is also hard to care about what’s going on despite the script’s best attempts. The characters aren’t that interesting, the only one who is remotely developed is Ryan Gosling’s protagonist. It makes an effort to make the character played by Julia Butters the heart and soul of the film, mainly with Gosling’s connection with her, but it feels lifeless and obligatory. The humour for the most part didn’t work, with some very dry jokes. The pacing is generally okay, but there is a section which has an extended flashback and while I get the reason for that section, it really halts the plot while it conveys the information. I get the feeling that the movie would’ve worked more if it came out in the 90s. As it is released today, its missing the charm that a movie like that might have. Not helping matters is the ending not feeling fully resolved, and its very clear that they were already intending to make sequels to this.

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There is a massively talented cast here and while they are generally decent, none of them are doing great work. Ryan Gosling was the standout as the titular Gray Man. It’s certainly nowhere close to being one of Gosling’s best work by any means. However, he was pretty good with what he was given, it certainly helps that he’s the only character with any form of backstory or development. He was also quite convincing during the action scenes. Chris Evans plays a psychopathic ex-spy sent after Gosling in a rare villain role; it’s the type of role that John Travolta would’ve played in the 90s like Broken Arrow or Face/Off. It seems that Evans is a little miscast, even though he has played darker more villainous characters in other movies and done well at them. I think the problem is that the character is written quite generic, despite the movie deliberately showing how crazy he is. For this character to work, it would’ve required an actor who could deliver a certain kind of crazy to elevate it, unfortunately Evans is not that. For what its worth, at least it looks like he’s having fun and hams it up. It’s just a shame that despite the movie building up the concept of the two facing off, the two actors don’t share that much screentime. The supporting cast are fairly underutilised including Ana de Armas, Jessica Henwick, Rege Jean-Page, Alfre Woodard, Billy Bob Thornton and Julia Butters, but they are okay in their roles.

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The Russo Brothers have delivered better in their previous movies, their work here is just fine. For a 200 million dollar budget movie, it could’ve been so much more. The movie is generally shot okay, but it can also look a bit bland visually. The action set pieces are nice and chaotic, however the cuts really take away from it. There are lots of drone shots, its fine but probably not as good as in other movies. It especially doesn’t help that earlier in the year, Michael Bay’s Ambulance utilised drone footage in a more exciting way. The Gray Man uses it an attempt to be flashy but ultimately it was pointless.

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The Gray Man is a fairly entertaining yet forgettable spy movie, which is only memorable for the actors in it. As far as Netflix action movies go, it is on the better end but considering some of their other films, that isn’t saying a lot. Its okay. but you wouldn’t be missing much if you didn’t watch it, a shame considering the talent working in the movie.

Interceptor (2022) Review

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Interceptor

Time: 99 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Elsa Pataky as Captain J.J. Collins
Luke Bracey as Alexander Kessel
Director: Matthew Reilly

One Army captain is forced use her years of tactical training and military expertise when a simultaneous coordinated attack threatens the remote missile interceptor station of which she is in command.

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I didn’t go into Interceptor expecting much. I really didn’t know anything about it beforehand, it was an action movie released on Netflix and it seemed very generic and familiar. My expectations turned out to be quite accurate because it was another straight to streaming action movie, and was pretty mediocre.

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The premise of Interceptor is simple, the lead character is stuck in a room while armed people on the outside try to get in. There are also military stakes given that said room is capable of intercepting enemy missiles before they make impact with the United States. It is a very familiar plot and has all the tired tropes that you would expect. The story is predictable and is recycled from countless other action movies. It is very cheesy and over the top, particularly with its dialogue. Now that doesn’t sound bad out of context, in fact it sounds like it could be enjoyable. Indeed, there are many action movies that have repetitive and recycled plots and have ridiculous dialogue, but it sounded like it could be a throwback of action thrillers from the 90s like Under Siege. The problem is that Interceptor takes itself seriously, so it plays the absurd plot straight faced and the goofy dialogue doesn’t have the self-awareness that a Steven Seagal movie might have. There are some themes and topics which are conveyed through dialogue, which would be fine if it wasn’t so heavy handed. They also give the lead character a backstory where without going too into it, she had gone through a lot. At first, I thought that it was just an obligatory backstory they put in for her, but it’s a present aspect throughout. The film spends time showing what happened to her and it feels really out of place in this movie. Not to mention, I just don’t think that this script is good enough to properly handle a story of sexual abuse and harassment. That aside, I just think the script is badly written. The plot isn’t riveting and there are tons of exposition dumps. Even the setup in the opening act is clumsy. The runtime is short at a tight 98 minutes, but somehow it felt a lot longer than that. Any scene that didn’t contain action did drag.

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The acting performances are not that good. For what its worth, Elsa Pataky is decent and tries her best in the lead role. Her character is definitely roughly written, but Pataky does somewhat elevate the movie. The supporting performances aren’t up to par unfortunately, outside of a funny cameo from Chris Hemsworth. The villains are terrible and underwritten, with the main antagonist played by Luke Bracey being cliched and not imposing at all.

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The direction from Matthew Reilly is competent, yet average. The production value isn’t the best, as you would expect from a straight to streaming movie. The CGI when its there is terrible, especially when it comes to the missiles and explosions. That being said, the action scenes are some of the best parts of the movie. It’s not great but they are enjoyable to watch, you can see clearly what’s going on and there’s good stunt work. There are even some memorable and creative kills straight from an over the top 90s action flick.

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Interceptor is an average straight to streaming action flick. It’s not one of the worst action movies ever but not good either. The action scenes are decently filmed, and Elsa Pataky does pretty well with what she is given. However, the script really lets the movie done quite some way, and had it been somewhat self-aware and leaned into that 90s throwback aspect, it might’ve been fun to watch in a cheesy way. As it is however, it is hard to enjoy watching.