Tag Archives: Clive Owen

Children of Men (2006) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence, offensive language and drug use
Cast:
Clive Owen as Theo Faron
Julianne Moore as Julian Taylor
Clare-Hope Ashitey as Kee
Michael Caine as Jasper Palmer
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Luke
Charlie Hunnam as Patric
Pam Ferris as Miriam
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

When infertility threatens mankind with extinction and the last child born has perished, a disillusioned bureaucrat (Clive Owen) becomes the unlikely champion in the fight for the survival of Earth’s population; He must face down his own demons and protect the planet’s last remaining hope from danger.

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I’ve been meaning to rewatch Children of Men for a while. I watched it years ago and I remember myself finding it to be good. As I was watching Alfonso Cuarón’s films recently however (Roma and Y Tu Mama Tambien), I had an urge to see this movie again, just to refresh it in my mind. I’m not quite sure why I wasn’t in love with this movie when I first saw it, but Children of Men is truly spectacular. As acclaimed as the movie is, I still feel like it isn’t as appreciated as much as it should be, it needs to be talked about a lot more.

I actually didn’t know of this until recently but Children of Men is based on a book of the same name. The writing here is excellent. They really created a unique dystopian concept and made it feel and seem so real. Unlike some other sci-fi movies, much of what happens here feels very plausible, making it a very timeless and relevant film today over a decade later. At the same time, they also deliver on creating a deep and emotional story, with very real, greatly written and fully realised characters. It takes less than 10 minutes to already invest you in this world. You feel a sense of dread throughout and the stakes are high, however it’s in a way that feels genuine and human. This film is under 2 hours long and from start to finish (at least on my rewatch) I was hanging onto every single moment. I’ll even admit that the last 20 minutes of the movie had me quite emotional, Children of Men is very powerful throughout but it is particularly in this portion.

As previously mentioned, all of the characters are very well written and memorable, and the cast are all great playing their respective roles. Clive Owen gives one of his all time best performances here, if not his best. Here he’s playing a reluctant hero character of sorts, forced into getting involved with a cause bigger than himself. We’ve seen this with lead characters many times before but with the writing and Owen’s fantastic performance, it just feels so real here. Julianne Moore is really good in the screentime that she gets. Clare-Hope Ashitey is also really great as the only woman in the world who isn’t infertile and is currently pregnant, holding possibly humanity’s last remaining hope for survival. It’s also fun watching Michael Caine as a hippie character of sorts, and he too does add to the movie quite a bit. The rest of the supporting cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor and Charlie Hunnam also are great in their roles.

Alfonso Cuarón as usual directs incredibly well, and this is probably his best film to date. The story and setting already feels very plausible but add upon the fantastic production design and it really feels timeless. His work with cinematographer Emmanuelle Lubezki was spectacular, there are so many phenomenal cinematic moments, most of them featuring long tracking shots, that you just wonder how exactly they managed to shoot it. A famous example being in the first quarter of the film, featuring a very long tracking shot that takes place in a car. Another example is a very long shot following Clive Owen for a very long time towards the end of the movie, really all of it is amazing filmmaking, it’s overwhelming at times.

Children of Men isn’t just one of the best science fiction films released, it’s one of the greatest films of the 21st Century. I’m not sure why it didn’t receive more awards attention, because it really deserves it. Everything here is perfect, the characters and cast, the fully realised story and world, and the fantastic direction by Alfonso Cuarón. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure that you see it as soon as possible, it’s a masterpiece.

Gemini Man (2019) Review

Time: 117 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Will Smith as Henry Brogan/Jackson Brogan
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Dani Zakarewski
Clive Owen as Clayton “Clay” Varris
Benedict Wong as Baron
Director: Ang Lee

Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an elite 51-year-old assassin who’s ready to call it quits after completing his 72nd job. His plans get turned upside down when he becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move. To his horror, Brogan soon learns that the man who’s trying to kill him is a younger, faster, cloned version of himself.

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Gemini Man was a movie I was cautiously optimistic about. It had a cast involving Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Clive Owen and it was also directed by Ang Lee. However, it was a bit of an odd movie for Lee to be taking on, the director of Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi was taking on an over the top blockbuster that sounds straight out of the 90s, that probably would’ve starred Will Smith. It also turned out that this movie has been in development hell for nearly 20 years with multiple directors and stars set to star in this movie, before eventually being made with Lee and Smith. I didn’t watch the movie in cinemas, mainly because I didn’t hear some favourable things about it. Nonetheless I still wanted to check it out, and I ended up having a good time with it, despite all its problems, and there are many.

The script is definitely the weakest part of the movie. When you hear a director like Ang Lee taking on this movie, you’d think that he would do something special with it to elevate it above its premise. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much what you’d expect it to be, there aren’t many surprises to be had with the movie. First of all, it takes a while for the movie to become what you think it is. You might’ve seen the trailers, with a lot of heavy emphasis on Will Smith on Will Smith action. It’s not quite that movie, in fact the first time the two Will Smiths meet are probably at least 45 minutes into the movie, and that’s just the first encounter. With that said, the movie did pick up when that first encounter finally happened. The plot isn’t all that interesting, but you can follow along with it all right as a standard blockbuster. I’m not kidding when I said that when the third act of the movie concluded however, I was expecting the real climax to follow it up. The end despite its action was rather underwhelming, and I expected a much more satisfying conclusion.

Will Smith is in the lead role, and I think he performed his part pretty well. CGI aside, I thought he did a reasonably good job at playing the younger clone too. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was also good, she also got to take part in some action scenes, and was convincing in them. Benedict Wong didn’t really get to do much but he’s always good to see on screen. Clive Owen plays the villain of the movie, and watching the movie he actually fared better than I thought he would based on some of the reactions I read about him. However, he still was a typical villain and wasn’t all that impressive, even though Owen clearly tried with what he had.

Ang Lee is a great filmmaker, and he still does some decent things with this movie on a directing level. The action was quite good, and it was filmed in a unique way. Along with the idea of a younger Will Smith, a unique aspect on the technical side was that it was filmed at an extra high frame rate of 120fps. I don’t know if it was meant to be seen in 3D to experience anything, but I watched it in 2D, and as that I didn’t really notice anything, so I can’t comment on how well it worked (or didn’t). All the same the action is fast paced and entertaining. We should probably talk about the de-aging CGI on Will Smith to make his clone character look younger. In his first scene and last scene, he looked really off. Maybe I’m reading too deep into it, but maybe it’s because the scenes are quite bright and that usually made the CGI not look all that good. In between those scenes though, it works well enough. You’ve definitely seen better in other more recent movies like The Irishman or Captain Marvel, but it’s enough that you can accept that this is a younger Will Smith.

Gemini Man is the movie that it looks like from the trailers but it’s still a little entertaining. Despite the premise and director, it really doesn’t become much more than an average to decent action flick. It’s still reasonably fun to watch, it has its moments, and the cast are pretty good. It’s not going to rank amongst Ang Lee’s best movies by any means, but I think he still does some good things with it. If you want to be entertained by a simple action movie for 2 hours, Gemini Man fills that need okay enough.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) Review

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains fantasy violence
Cast:
Dane DeHaan as Major Valerian
Cara Delevingne as Sergeant Laureline
Clive Owen as Arün Filitt
Rihanna as Bubble
Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp
Herbie Hancock as Defence Minister
Kris Wu as Captain Neza
Rutger Hauer as the President of the World State Federation
Director: Luc Besson

In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defense, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline must race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardizes the future of the universe.

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Valerian was a movie I was curious about. I like some of Luc Besson’s films with Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element. Also with the cast involved and it being based on a graphic novel that supposedly inspired countless sci-fi stories, I was intrigued as to what the movie would turn out like. Having finally seen Valerian, I feel a little conflicted. Valerian is a bit of a polarising movie, it does some things well but also has a lot of issues. Most of the main actors do quite well in their roles, I was interested in the world and the visuals were beautiful. However the writing is very flawed, from dialogue, to character, to story, there’s a lot of issues. It’s a bit of a mixed bag but I enjoyed it at the same time.

I’ll get this out of the way, the script has a lot of issues. Let’s start with the length, this movie is way too long, it is 2 hours 17 minutes. I don’t have an issue with Valerian being that long but if its going to be that way, the movie should be pretty engaging all the way through, and it really isn’t. This movie at many points could’ve been trimmed down quite a bit. For example, the first sequence with Valerian and Laureline on a mission is mostly decent but its way too long, especially a segment when Valerian’s arm stuck in a box-like device which I swear goes on for over 5 minutes (or at least feels like it). Because of the occasional dragging of the story, I wasn’t paying attention to the movie all the time, near the end it had my attention but for most of the movie it dipped in and out from having my interest to finding the movie to be a drag. Another issue is that this movie relies on way too much on exposition, there are so many moments when people just explain and information dump some things that the audience needed to know. It is hard to accuse this movie of being ‘too sci-fish’ as the graphic novel inspired so many sci-fi stories and movies. Although I gotta give Besson some credit for going all the way with the sci fi aspects, I think he went a little too far with it, and by that I mean the movie is a little weird, not necessarily a bad thing but there were some random moments at times, I didn’t know what was going on (maybe that was the intention). The humour was very hit or miss, and when the humour is a dud, you really feel it. Even though I was reasonably entertained by the movie, I found it hard to care about what was going on, it was predictable and I never felt worried about what could happen. The best part of the script is the world, the world is very interesting, I almost want the planned (and apparently already written) Valerian sequels, just to see more of this world. Overall, the script is a mess, a lot of the plot is fine and the world is nice but there are so many issues in the story, dialogue and pacing that really hold this movie back from being effective.

Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne were the leads of Valerian and they had good chemistry, however the writing between them is silly and cliché, it feels kind of forced and you don’t really buy the relationship between the two. Dehaan and Delevingne made the relationship between them somewhat work. Dane Dehaan, while good in his role, did feel a little out of place. I couldn’t tell whether it was the writing or if Dehaan was miscast. Delevingne on the other hand fits right into her role well, she was one of the stand outs of the movie. She has charisma, humour and you can buy her in the action scenes, she was one of the surprises of Valerian. Rihanna and Ethan Hawke are good in their short amount of screentime, very entertaining and fun to watch. There are a lot of brief weird characters and out of all of them, those two were the only ones I liked. The rest were just to random and pointless that I didn’t care for them. Clive Owen is a great actor but here he is wasted. He does try to act well but he’s not in the movie a lot and his role is very cliché and typical.

The visuals of Valerian are the best aspect of the film, its such a beautiful looking movie. The world of this movie feels huge and kinda intriguing. At times some aspects of the CGI did feel slightly off, but maybe its because so much CGI is on screen at the same time. The action itself is fast paced and very entertaining. As previously mentioned, this movie is very sci-fish (perhaps too much for its own good) but the designs for everything from the world to the aliens was great. The overall direction really immerses you in this very different world. The style is a little odd at times, but again, that might have been Besson’s intention.

Valerian is a very mixed bag. On one hand it has plenty of writing issues. On the other hand, I liked most of the main performances, the world was great and the visuals were nice to watch. Even though I like Valerian, I can completely understand people who hate it. Along with its many flaws, it is a very weird movie (however I almost kind of respect Luc Besson for going all the way with this movie). Honestly the only thing I can guarantee that everyone will think of the movie is that the visuals look good. Valerian isn’t one of Luc Besson’s best movies, its not even on the level of The Fifth Element but I’d say its better than Lucy. If you are curious enough, check Valerian out, just know that you are going to be watching a flawed, weird and beautiful looking sci-fi flick. And also know that there’s no guarantee that you’ll like it.

The Bourne Identity (2002) Review

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The Bourne Identity

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
Franka Potente as Marie Helena Kreutz
Chris Cooper as Alexander Conklin
Clive Owen as The Professor
Brian Cox as Ward Abbott
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Nykwana Wombosi
Director: Doug Liman

The story of a man (Matt Damon), salvaged, near death, from the ocean by an Italian fishing boat. When he recuperates, the man suffers from total amnesia, without identity or background… except for a range of extraordinary talents in fighting, linguistic skills and self-defense that speak of a dangerous past. He sets out on a desperate search-assisted by the initially rebellious Marie (Franka Potente) – to discover who he really is, and why he’s being lethally pursued by assassins.

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The Bourne series is one of the most famous action franchises, and with the 5th instalment of the franchise coming reasonably soon, I decided to start to review the Bourne movies (maybe not Legacy). The first film, The Bourne Identity, is a pretty good and influential action film which spawned a successful franchise. While the other films are arguably better, The Bourne Identity is still a great action film, from its action to its complex and dense plot, it is a must see for action fans.

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The Bourne Identity is a movie that requires your full attention to understand what’s going on, if you don’t, you’ll be completely lost as to what is going on. However with that said, after a few viewings, it wasn’t as complicated as I remembered, it’s just that there’s a lot of details that you have to process. The plot itself is written quite well, and all the details and plotlines structured well. The film does have quite a good balance of intrigue and mystery as well as action and thrills. Now I will say with the exception of Jason Bourne, I did not find any of the characters interesting. They weren’t bad by any means, they just weren’t that memorable to me. That’s really one of the only major flaw that I could find with this movie.

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Matt Damon gives one of his greatest performances in the Bourne series. With this film, he proved that he was action worthy material. He manages to be absolutely believable as a trained assassin in the way that he carries himself, what helps is that there are many action scenes where you can clearly tell that he’s doing a lot of his own stunts. He really is the stand out of the movie. The rest of the cast consists of such talented actors like Chris Cooper and Brian Cox, who are good but none of them really stand out, to be fair though their characters aren’t really that interesting, so it’s not like they had much to work with. One actor who does leave an impression at least to me however is Clive Owen, he’s only in a few brief scenes but he gives off a presence and he was great with the little amount he was given.

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The one thing known about the cinematography of the action is that it’s quite shaky (a technique that director Paul Greengrass would continue in the sequels), however I thought that it’s done rather well. That’s because it’s obvious that it’s not done in order to hide bad choreography like a lot of action movies which use shaky cam today (and you can actually see what’s going on), it’s done to put us directly into the action and to make it feel more realistic. On that note, the stunts are great and made the action even more believable, the action sequences are the highlights of the movie.

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While in my opinion it’s not the best movie in the franchise, the Bourne Identity is still a great action movie in itself. The plot is complicated but interwoven well, Matt Damon really brought his A-game and is completely convincing as his character and the action especially makes this movie. Paul Greengrass gets a lot of credit for the Bourne movies but people should know that it was director Doug Liman who started this series off with a bang.

Shoot ‘Em Up (2007) Review

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Shoot Em Up

Time: 86 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, Offensive Language and Sex Scenes
Cast:
Clive Owen as Mr. Smith
Paul Giamatti as Karl Hertz
Monica Bellucci as Donna “D.Q.” Quintano
Stephen McHattie as Hammerson
Director: Michael Davis

In the middle of the night, while waiting for a bus in a bus station, a lonely stranger called Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) sees a pregnant woman being chased by a man with a gun. He follows the couple, kills the man and helps the delivery of the baby in the middle of a shootout while a gang of hit-man tries to shoot them up. The woman is killed but Smith saves the baby, escaping from Hertz (Paul Giamatti), the leader of the killers. Then he meets the prostitute Donna Quintano (Monica Bellucci), who has just lost her baby, and asks her to breastfeed the newborn. They are chased by Hertz and Smith discovers the reason why the bad guy wants to kill the baby.

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Shoot Em Up gets everything right in what it sets out to do – to be an over the top, silly and highly entertaining movie. If you are looking for strong, realistic stories, this isn’t going to be your thing. However, if you are willing to suspend your disbelief and able to accept that you are watching an unbelievably ridiculous movie, there’s a chance that you may end up loving it, I know I did.

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The pacing is right for the movie it’s going for – it starts with a bang and doesn’t stop. Even during scenes which are slower, they aren’t so slow that they lose our attention. These scenes also allow us time to breathe after the exhilarating action scenes, without taking us out of the experience. I’m also glad that the filmmakers also know what sort of movie it is and embraces it, without adding some needless drama which could really take us out of the experience. The plot isn’t really worth focussing on, it’s quite simple anyway: Clive Owen protects a baby from bad guys. The film is also set at the right length, 86 minutes – it doesn’t overstay its welcome and gets all its entertaining parts in the right amount of time. There’s one flaw that I noticed, until near the end, Clive Owen is never outmatched and is always on top of things, which is something that a lot of bad action movies nowadays have. I’m however willing to let this slide, as it isn’t supposed to be taken seriously, whereas a movie like Lucy (which is meant to be taken more seriously), isn’t excused.

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Clive Owen is well suited to the part to play this brooding character but he’s played in an entertaining way, and he doesn’t take it too seriously. He is quite funny actually, especially with his often cheesy one liners (like putting a carrot through someone’s head and saying “Eat your vegetables”). Paul Giamatti is very entertaining as the villain, it just looks like that he’s having a ball playing this over the top character. Monica Bellucci was also pretty good in her role, and fitted in well with what was going on.

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The action scenes are fast paced and don’t hold back in its violence or how over the top it is. The majority of the action scenes are unrealistic, the first death scene involves Clive Owen punching a carrot into someone’s head through their mouth and it just escalates from there. The action scenes are well done for the type of action that they’re going for. The only scene that didn’t feel good was when Clive Owen and other characters are falling out of an airplane, some it looked good but the CGI at time didn’t feel right.

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Shoot Em Up is probably not for everyone, especially if you can’t handle how unrealistic the movie can take its direction sometimes. This movie at least for me, is one of the best over the top action movies I’ve ever seen and I was thoroughly entertained throughout the entire runtime. If you are an action flick fanatic, you should definitely check this one out, you won’t regret it.

Sin City (2005)

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Sin City

Time: 124 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence
Director: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Cast:
Mickey Rourke as Marv
Clive Owen as Dwight
Bruce Willis as Hartigan
Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan
Benicio Del Toro as Jackie Boy
Brittany Murphy as Shellie
Elijah Wood as Kevin

Three tales of crime adapted from Frank Miller’s popular comics which focuses around Marv (Mickey Rourke), a muscular brute who’s looking for the person responsible for the death of his true love, Goldie; Dwight (Clive Owen), a man fed up with Sin City’s corrupt law enforcement who takes the law into his own hands after a mistake and Hartigan (Bruce Willis), a cop who risks his life to protect a girl (Jessica Alba) from a deformed pedophile.

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This is the only comic book movie that has been translated from the graphic novel to the big screen. As someone who read the graphic novels (in preparation for my viewing of the movie) I am blown away at what Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller managed to do with this movie. Robert Rodriguez was the perfect director for this movie, managing to create an film adaptation that every Sin City fan will enjoy.

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The first thing you need to know about this film is that it does have an unusual structure. It mostly focuses on three stories and it shows one story at a time but isn’t necessarily placed in chronological order; chronologically they are happening around the same time. Some of the characters like Marv aren’t just in one story, and may make an appearance in another. All of the dialogue and some of the pictures drawn in the graphic novel are in the film. In many ways, this is the first movie based on a source material that didn’t really need to be adapted; it was just put on film. It was like they scanned the pages of the graphic novels onto the big screen. There is also a guest director appearance from Quentin Tarantino, directing a great scene between Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro.

The actors in this movie successfully embody the characters they play. Sin City has a huge cast; with actors like Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro and many others. Like I said earlier, the dialogue from the characters in the graphic novels are the dialogue here, and each actor delivers the lines just as I imagine the characters would. Everyone here is good and all of the actors seem to be the characters, just as if they have been taken from the comics.

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One of the best things and stand outs about Sin City is its style. The graphic novels have a black and white “noir” look about it. Not everything is black and white, sometimes some things in the movie actually have colour, such as a red dress or golden hair. The violence in this movie is also stylized – most of the blood seen is white and only in some cases is red. This stylistic approach to a comic book adaptation is a first of its kind. This film can have a lot of engrossing investing moments, especially with some scenes where there isn’t dialogue and it allows viewers to take in the giant scale of the locations. This also means the action is filmed very well, and this fact isn’t surprising as this comes from action director Robert Rodriguez. The score mostly composed by Robert Rodriguez is also great and really adds to the atmosphere.

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Anyone who has read the graphic novels will be very satisfied with this movie. This is my favourite movie by Robert Rodriguez and it is hard imagining him outdoing this movie with the upcoming sequel: Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For but I’m still excited to see what he brings to it. As for this movie, the style, the performances, and just the tone and mood make it great. I don’t know if people who haven’t read the comics will like it as much due to the different structure but in my opinion, this film is one of the best comic book ‘adaptations’ that I’ve seen.