Tag Archives: Hannah John-Kamen

SAS: Red Notice (2021) Review

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SAS Red Notice

Time: 124 minutes
Cast:
Sam Heughan as Tom Buckingham
Ruby Rose as Grace Lewis
Andy Serkis as George Clements
Hannah John-Kamen as Dr Sophie Hart
Tom Hopper as Declan Smith
Noel Clarke as Major Bisset
Owain Yeoman as Oliver Lewis
Jing Lusi as Zada
Ray Panthaki as Prime Minister Atwood
Richard McCabe as Callum
Douglas Reith as Sir Charles Whiteside
Anne Reid as Charlotte
Tom Wilkinson as William Lewis
Director: Magnus Martens

A groom’s (Sam Heughan) wedding plans are disrupted when a small army of well-trained criminals hijack the Eurostar deep beneath the English Channel.

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I saw SAS: Red Notice (also known as SAS: Rise of the Black Swan) widely advertised all over Netflix’s front page. I was very sceptical about it, despite the actors involved. It looked like yet another disposable Netflix action thriller. I went in with fairly low expectations and on the whole it mostly met those expectations. I wouldn’t say I dislike the movie, but I wouldn’t call it good by any means.

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SAS: Red Notice does have a familiar setup, pretty much Die Hard on a train, however it isn’t nearly as interesting or fun as it should be. I put that up to the mediocre at best screenplay. The story is unoriginal, and the plot is full of cliches but that’s not enough to sink the movie. However, it is pretty much impossible to care about what is happening. I wouldn’t say it’s boring, but it isn’t all that interesting either, and the plot is rather forgettable. I think the aspect that annoys me most about the writing is the tone. Some of the bad elements of the script are bad cheesy B-movie action flick way, which could potentially allow for some enjoyment. However, this movie actually tries to be intelligent and thoughtful, and somehow ends up worse as a result. For example, the movie opens with Tom Wilkinson going on this long monologue about psychopaths. It does seem to think highly of itself and thinks its clever, and as such play the movie very seriously. This makes the movie hard to enjoy even in a cheesy kind of way. The ending is pretty ridiculous in the way it seems to try to set up a sequel. Even the final scene is rather laughable, containing quite possibly the most boring use of drone footage I’ve seen in a movie. SAS also runs for far too long at 2 hours long, and if it was 90 minutes long, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more. However there are so many scenes which seem to drag on, with tired and run-down dialogue that don’t add to the plot, characters or entertainment, and it just becomes tedious to watch at times.

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There are some good actors involved with this movie, unfortunately they are generally all wasted with the very lacklustre writing. Sam Heughan is in the lead role as an aristocratic SAS guy named Thomas Buckingham the Third (not making this up) who ends up in a hostage situation and has to Die Hard his way out of it. I’ve heard it said that this is essentially Heughan’s audition for James Bond, if that’s true, then that’s very unfortunate. He does try his best here, but the role is incredibly boring and bland, and the character is rather difficult to like (and not in an intentional way either). I haven’t seen Sam Heughan in much. but I assume he has charisma in his other roles, however he has none here. There is virtually no chemistry between him or his love interest played by Hannah John-Kamen. She tries her best as well, but also suffers greatly from the writing. The main villain of the movie is played by Ruby Rose as the leader of a group of mercenaries. She did work very effectively as a supporting villain in John Wick Chapter 2, but unfortunately doesn’t quite work in here in SAS, and isn’t that convincing in her part. It doesn’t help that the character is just evil for the sake of it, not that this can’t work, but in this movie it just came across as lazy more than anything. Besides, Rose just doesn’t have the screen presence necessary to make that archetype work outside of the action scenes. The only actor I really liked in this movie is Andy Serkis, who at least looks like he’s having a lot of fun chewing the scenery in his part. Like the other actors, he’s given some really silly lines and moments to deliver, but somehow manages them better than the rest of the cast.

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The movie is directed by Magnus Martens, and it really does have a feeling of a straight to streaming action flick, specifically one from Netflix. While the direction isn’t bad, it doesn’t seem to have any style at all, almost like it was directed by a bot instead of a person. There are some decent set pieces that are generally shot, but at times some of the action is shot in underlit hallways where you can’t tell what’s going on. Despite the serious tone the movie goes for and the attempts at making the violence ‘shocking’, it just lacks all the impact that it needed. The fight scenes are weightless, and the shootouts and explosions have some really bad CGI. With that said, the action is watchable and hardly my main issue with the movie.

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SAS: Red Notice is a watchable but forgettable movie, which gets worse the more I think about it. The cast are wasted in underwritten roles delivering mostly average performances, the action is generic albeit mostly competent, and the script is borderline bad, if not bad. I can’t say I really dislike the movie that much, but it’s not worth checking out.

Ant Man and the Wasp (2018) Review

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Contains violence & coarse language
Cast:
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man
Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne/Wasp
Michael Peña as Luis
Walton Goggins as Sonny Burch
Bobby Cannavale as Jim Paxton
Judy Greer as Maggie
Tip “T.I.” Harris as Dave
David Dastmalchian as Kurt
Hannah John-Kamen as Ava Starr/Ghost
Abby Ryder Fortson as Cassie
Randall Park as Jimmy Woo
Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne
Laurence Fishburne as Bill Foster
Michael Douglas as Hank Pym
Director: Peyton Reed

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is grappling with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. Approached by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), Lang must once again don the Ant-Man suit and fight alongside the Wasp. The urgent mission soon leads to secret revelations from the past as the dynamic duo finds itself in an epic battle against a powerful new enemy.

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I was somewhat interested in Ant Man and the Wasp. I have to admit I wasn’t super hyped for the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I actually liked the first Ant Man, it was a simple but effective enough comic book movie that was quite entertaining. However with it being released after the juggernaut and emotional chapter that was Infinity War, Ant Man and the Wasp just felt a little off to release months after. Also I had a feeling that the sequel would just be more of the same, fun but nothing really that new. Nonetheless I was interested. Ant Man and the Wasp surprisingly worked very well for what it is, which is a fun and entertaining comedy.

Something that is quite apparent is that this movie is very focussed on being funny and entertaining. It’s like Marvel wanted a lighter movie following Infinity War, that could possibly affect your thoughts on Ant Man and the Wasp, for better or for worse. A problem which could happen with some MCU films is that while the comedy works, often times it would interrupt some more dramatic or emotional scenes. However with Ant Man and the Wasp, there aren’t a ton of emotional scenes, the most is related to Scott Lang and his daughter and Hope van Dyne and Hank Pym with Pym’s wife (played by Michelle Pfeiffer). So there really weren’t many emotional scenes to ruin with comedy. This movie might as well be called a straight up comedy and while I would’ve preferred some more emotional depth to the movie, it does well at what it sets out to do. A criticism of the movie is that it doesn’t have great consequences or stakes, like with the first movie the stake here are very small and personal and I’m completely fine with that. Even so, you don’t ever feel a sense of urgency, you felt it slightly more in the first movie but here you always just know that everything is going to be alright. It’s also rather predictable, with very rare surprises. Really the biggest spoiler of the movie is the credit scenes, you can’t really spoil most of the movie. It’s a rather straightforward superhero movie that doesn’t really do anything particularly surprising, it’s goal was for it to be fun and hilarious and it achieved that. The movie is about 2 hours long and from start to finish I was quite entertained. There are a couple credits scenes, the first is about something that everyone will want to watch following Infinity War, the second is okay but not necessary to watch.

Paul Rudd is once again great as Scott Lang/Ant Man, he’s just so likable and funny, and a real underdog character. It’s very easy to root for him, Rudd’s casting was perfect. It’s been a few years since I’ve watched the first Ant Man for the first time, but I remember him being a little less goofy in the original movie. While he’s not completely stupid or anything, they do put him in more goofy scenarios or make him do some somewhat goofy things, it’s like they were doing that to try to make Evangeline Lilly’s character of The Wasp stand out more in comparison, which wasn’t necessary as she would’ve done that perfectly fine on her own. Lilly as the Wasp is one of the standouts of the movie, she gets to do a lot here and the movie definitely utilises her well. I didn’t buy the sorta romance between her and Scott in the first movie and the same is here. It’s not constantly done again and again to the point of annoyance but it can be distracting at times and doesn’t really work. Michael Douglas is once again great as Hank Pym, perfect casting, here he gets to do even more than in the original movie. Michael Pena like in the first movie is very funny and has some great scenes. Other actors like Laurence Fishburne do their part. The villains often have a chance of being one of the weaker parts in MCU movies (or comic book movies in general), however with Black Panther and Infinity War earlier this year providing great comic book villains in Killmonger and Thanos, the MCU seemed to be making some progress in regards to them. The main villain in Ant Man and the Wasp is Hannah John-Kamen as the character of Ghost, who has unique phasing abilities which can lead to some entertaining action scenes. Also she does have a different backstory and credit from other MCU villains, you can really understand why she does the things she does here. For once the whole “this comic book movie villain isn’t really a villain” description actually applies, it could be argued that Ghost is more just an antagonist than a villain. It seems that all the main MCU villains this year have in common is that they all have strong and defined motivations. Ghost unfortunately isn’t a top tier level villain in the MCU but she’s a reasonably strong second tier villain. The biggest problem is that aside from her powers, the backstory, motivation and the performance, there isn’t enough of her as a character. She has just about enough screentime but it would’ve been a little better if they showed a little more to the character. With that said, the character was actually done well, with her arc being treated well, consistent throughout and not just being a throwaway villain. Also Hannah does do a great job in her role. She fared much better than Walton Goggins, who served to be as a leader of generic disposable henchmen. Goggins really is wasted here as a generic villain. He and his henchmen seem to only be in this movie because the movie needed a large amount of villainous characters that the main characters can fight because the main villain herself didn’t have any. Honestly if they were somehow connected to Ghost, maybe they could’ve worked in some way.

Peyton Reed turns from the first movie to direct Ant Man and the Wasp. The thing that really stood out about the first Ant Man was the unique action scenes that included resizing (mostly shrinking). The sequel really leaned into that more and they got very creative with the action scenes. Other visual aspects such as Ghost’s phasing ability are done pretty well. The visuals can look pretty stunning at times, especially when it comes to the Quantum Realm, which plays a part in this movie. On a side note, like in the first movie there is a flashback scene which utilises de-aging technology and once again it works effectively.

Ant Man and the Wasp is not anywhere near the top tier of Marvel but it is quite entertaining. The cast do well in their roles, it’s visually stunning with some entertaining action scenes and the movie is so fun. It does have its fair share of issues but it achieves what it sets out to do for the most part. If you really liked the first Ant Man, I’m pretty sure that you’ll have a good time with Ant Man and the Wasp.