Tag Archives: Martin Campbell

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.

The Protégé (2021) Review

Maggie Q stars as Anna in the new film, T Protégé.

The Protege

Time: 104 Minutes
Cast:
Maggie Q as Anna Dutton
Samuel L. Jackson as Moody Dutton
Michael Keaton as Michael Rembrandt
Director: Martin Campbell

Rescued as a child by the legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson), Anna (Maggie Q) is the world’s most skilled contract killer. However, when Moody is brutally killed, she vows revenge for the man who taught her everything she knows. As Anna becomes entangled with an enigmatic killer (Michael Keaton), their confrontation turns deadly, and the loose ends of a life spent killing weave themselves ever tighter.

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I was interested in The Protégé. Along with it having a main cast consisting of Maggie Q, Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson, it is directed by Martin Campbell, who made Casino Royale and The Mask of Zorro. The premise on paper looked very familiar, but I was hoping for a decent action movie at the very least. For the most part, The Protégé was indeed an enjoyable action flick, but does have some flaws holding it back from being better.

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The writing is the worst part of the movie, and the script really is at odds with Martin Campbell’s strengths. The story is not very original, it’s generic and we’ve seen many of these plots in plenty of other better spy and revenge thrillers. The story and characters aren’t that interesting, there aren’t any stakes or emotional payoffs, and the few twists it has are rather predictable. Not only that but the plot could get unnecessarily complicated at times. It was incoherent, and by the end I was still wondering what it was even about. It is also very tonally inconsistent, mainly with the attempts at humour which never really landed for me. The dialogue is to blame for this, it is honestly terrible at times. By the time it reaches the last third of the film, it starts to lose steam. Not only that but it starts to try to be about something, and if anything that brought the movie down for me. Up to that point it was just a B-level schlocky action flick that I was having fun with. The ending itself was quite abrupt and it felt like something was missing. The story felt unfinished, there’s lots of loose ends and I didn’t understand why certain things happened, or why certain characters chose to make certain choices. I still enjoyed the movie, but the ending left me feeling cold, and not in a good way. The movie is just under 2 hours at 109 minutes, I think it could’ve been a little shorter than that.

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The characters aren’t that interesting and are rather one note. However, the main three actors at the centre make up for it at least. Maggie Q is solid in the lead role as the assassin seeking revenge, both in her performance and the action scenes. Michael Keaton is great too as the bodyguard and right-hand man of the main villain, very entertaining to watch. He even gets some action scenes of his own, and it looks like he actually does take part in some of the stunts. While I did like Keaton here, I do feel like his role was supposed to be played by a younger actor, making some of his scenes with Maggie Q feel very out of place. I especially wasn’t really sure what was going on with the relationship with those two characters, it kept going back and forth, and not in the way where it keeps you guessing. Its more like the writers couldn’t make up their minds about where it was going. Samuel L. Jackson isn’t in the movie a ton and it is definitely a role that he can play in his sleep, but as expected he delivers on his part.

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Michael Keaton as Rembrandt

Martin Campbell is a good director of action, and his work here definitely elevates the movie. The action scenes are really good, its shot in a mostly clear fashion, the fights are well choreographed, and it was satisfying to watch. It is surprisingly graphic and gory at points, plenty of people get damaged and killed over the course of the movie. The action isn’t as memorable as some of Campbell’s other action work such as Casino Royale, The Mask of Zorro or Goldeneye, but nonetheless it makes the movie more entertaining to watch.

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The Protege feels like an action movie that would’ve come out decades ago, for better and for worse. The writing really is its worst aspect, the dialogue and plotting are very lacklustre, and it’s hard to really care about what’s going on with the story and characters. It’s the strong direction, action and the solid cast that elevate the movie, making it entertaining for the most part. If you are up for a decent but forgettable action thriller, then The Protégé is an entertaining enough 2-hour watch.

Goldeneye (1995) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond (007)
Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan (006)/Janus
Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova
Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp
Joe Don Baker as Jack Wade
Judi Dench as M
Gottfried John as General Arkady Grigorovich Ourumov
Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky
Alan Cumming as Boris Grishenko
Director: Martin Campbell

When a powerful satellite system falls into the hands of Alec Trevelyan, AKA Agent 006 (Sean Bean), a former ally-turned-enemy, only James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) can save the world from an awesome space weapon that — in one short pulse — could destroy the earth! As Bond squares off against his former compatriot, he also battles Trevelyan’s stunning ally, Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), an assassin who uses pleasure as her ultimate weapon.

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I have watched most of the James Bond films (even though I don’t seem to remember most of them) however there were a few I haven’t watched: From Russia with Love, Goldeneye and Never Say Never Again (and the Jerry Lewis Casino Royale if you want to count that as a Bond film). Goldeneye has been called one of the best James Bond movies and having finally seen it, I can see why that is. I’ll be honest, the James Bond films don’t really do much for me, even though I do like most of them. It’s only the Daniel Craig era that has great James Bond movies (and really only 2 of them are great). Goldeneye has the typical tropes, clichés and structure of typical Bond films but it does the best with those aspects. Martin Campbell does deliver an entertaining flick that works really well.

The movie is set after the Cold War era (with it being the first Bond movie made after the end of the Cold War) and the film fully embraces that time period. The opening scene starts off the movie well, it’s simple and straightforward and completely Bondlike. From that point onwards, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a Bond movie. The movie has much of the same structure and tropes as most Bond films. However, when it comes to James Bond movies this is one of the better ones and it does rather well with it. You don’t get very invested in the story plot but its straightforward and easy to follow, easy to be entertained by. The movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes and the pacing does work quite well, it’s always moving in some way and doesn’t give you a chance to draw bored at any point. You’re generally entertained throughout.

Goldeneye is Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as the new James Bond after Timothy Dalton’s two film run. His version is a lot more charismatic and charming than all the other James Bonds’ and Brosnan really excels at that aspect. I don’t really buy him as a spy as much as the other James Bonds but he’s still pretty entertaining to watch. The ‘Bond Girl’ of Goldeneye is played by Izabella Scorupco, and I can’t really tell if she’s a good actor or not because her character once again falls into the typical Bond girl category of not really having anything to them as a character. You never really buy the relationship between her and Bond, but I guess it’s kind of something to look past because it’s a Bond movie. Sean Bean plays the villain of Alec Trevelyan, a former double 00 agent gone rogue. Though the character really isn’t anything special (a rogue agent in a spy isn’t really anything special), he does serve the movie really well, and Bean does play up his villainous role and is entertaining. Famke Janssen also does well as Xenia Onatopp (yes, that’s the character’s name). However the character is a little too over the top, with her trademark kill being crushing people with her thighs and there are even times when she is literally moaning with pleasure after killing people. It just comes across as being really goofy more than anything, and that’s saying a lot considering the James Bond movies as a whole. While in a smaller role, M this time is played by Judi Dench, who would do a fantastic job in both the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig Bond eras. She’s only given a couple scenes here but she makes the most of these scenes to make a real impression. Alan Cumming is in this movie as a Russian hacker and while I get the feeling that his character is meant to be over the top, I think it was a little too over the top.

Martin Campbell starts off this new version of James Bond (not the first time he’d do this, see a decade later with Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale) and he does a great job. Campbell particularly does very well with the action scenes, with a lot of practical effects along with the digital effects. The fight scenes are great, especially the final confrontation between James and Alec, Bond actually seemed like he was somewhat in danger. There’s also some large scale and entertaining action sequences, including one with Bond chasing people in a tank. Some visual effects like blue lightning, satellites and some explosions look fake now but they probably worked greatly for 1995. The score by Éric Serra is different and stands apart from the other Bond scores, it really works.

Goldeneye is one of the best James Bond movies for sure. It’s very much a Bond film and has many of the familiar aspects and formula, but its really entertaining. Much of the success goes to Martin Campbell, who did a great job directing this movie and introducing a new James Bond with Pierce Brosnan. If you like the James Bond movies but haven’t gotten around to Goldeneye (which was me until recently), I’d suggest watching it, it’s a lot of fun.

Green Lantern (2011) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern
Blake Lively as Carol Ferris
Peter Sarsgaard as Dr. Hector Hammond
Mark Strong as Thaal Sinestro
Angela Bassett as Dr. Amanda Waller
Tim Robbins as Robert Hammond
Temuera Morrison as Abin Sur/Green Lantern
Taika Waititi as Thomas Kalmaku
Director: Martin Campbell

Sworn to preserve intergalactic order, the Green Lantern Corps has existed for centuries. Its newest recruit, Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds), is the first human to join the ranks. The Green Lanterns have little regard for humans, who have thus far been unable to harness the powers of the ring each member wears. But Jordan, a gifted and cocky test pilot, may be the corps’ only hope when a new enemy called Parallax threatens the universal balance of power.

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2 years before the DCEU was started with Man of Steel, WB tried to create a DC cinematic universe with 2011’s Green Lantern. It had all the makings of a good comic book movie, you have a great cast including Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong and on top of that, its directed by Goldeneye and Casino Royale director Martin Campbell. Green Lantern however ended up being way worse than it should be, it fails to entertain or interest on any level, and just feels like wasted potential in the end.

First thing to note is that Green Lantern has a very silly tone. It feels like WB was trying to replicate the Marvel films with DC, and with the MCU running a good few year at the time of GL’s release, that could very well be what happened. It’s quite comedic and ridiculous at some points oddly. Unfortunately despite the light and almost cartoonish tone, it’s not very entertaining, not even on a so bad it’s good level. On top of it being too silly, it’s also not very interesting. Despite it being an hour and 45 minutes long, Green Lantern drags a lot. I’m not sure what happened with the script. It just feels empty, they throw a lot of lore at you but none of it really sticks, there’s nothing about the way that the film told the backstory of the Green Lanterns that made me interested in them. Honestly they sound more interesting on paper than how it’s presented in the actual movie. There is no emotional connection to what’s going on, things just happen, and you watch them happen but you don’t care about any of it. By the end it didn’t feel like much has happened. There is a lot of wasted opportunities as well, for example a big part of the film is these Green Lantern rings which allow the people who use them to create anything they can imagine, however nothing that creative even comes of that. It’s such a shame that Green Lantern really doesn’t get much right, it’s not entertaining, it’s not interesting, it’s rather empty and feels much longer than it actually is.

There is a lot of talented actors here and many of the casting decisions are great. Unfortunately they aren’t enough to elevate the film in an immense way. Ryan Reynolds to be fair is actually a great pick for Hal Jordan/Green Lantern and Reynolds does his best with what he was given. He is however let down by the material given to him. The supporting actors with Blake Lively, Angela Bassett, Temuera Morrison, Taika Waititi and others are fine enough but really don’t give that great performances, it’s not on them though and they are fine enough. Mark Strong is a perfect casting choice for Sinestro but he’s not even the main villain, and he doesn’t get as much screentime as he should. I guess he was being set up to be a villain in later movies but as sequels didn’t happen he just feels wasted. He was really good in his scenes though. The actual villains were really bad. Peter Sarsgaard I’ve heard is a good actor and I don’t blame him for his performance here. In short he’s some random guy who gets a big head and powers and is over the top and goofy, terrible performance, again not putting this on Sarsgaard. He’s not even the main villain, it’s this CGI creature thing called Parallax. I’ve seen many bad comic book movie villains, from Nuclear Man, to Poison Ivy to Incubus. But I think Parallax is the worst comic book movie villain I’ve ever seen. The CGI on him was awful but also there’s absolutely nothing to the character and we don’t see too much of him anyway.

This film is directed by Martin Campbell but you wouldn’t be able to tell by watching the movie. The filming of the action sequences is fine enough but it’s not that great. It doesn’t help that the CGI is so awful it’s actually unbelievable, everything from the CGI suits, to the backgrounds, Parallax and beyond, everything looks bad. The decision to have the suits be CGI was particularly poor, they even gave Ryan Reynolds a goofy CGI eye mask. Nothing feels real and I know that most of what happens can’t be created in reality but they could’ve at least made it better so that the special effects don’t constantly feel artificial and fake.

I personally think that Green Lantern is the worst comic book movie of the 2010s thus far, though there are worse comic book movies that have been released overall. Some aspects are fine like most of the actors are well cast and do the best they can in their roles but they are ultimately let down by the writing and material given. The vast majority of the story aspects falls flat and all the potential with all these characters and the world is wasted. Not only that but it’s not even entertaining, even the technical aspects such as the CGI are astoundingly poor. Green Lantern was an unfortunate misfire and really didn’t work at all. Let’s just hope that the DCEU’s version of Green Lantern is solid (though it will likely be much better by default).

Casino Royale (2006)

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Casino Royale

Time: 144 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Eva Green as Vesper Lynd
Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Judi Dench as M
Director: Martin Campbell

Promoted to 00 status, James Bond (Daniel Craig) goes on his first mission where he must face Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), a private banker to the world’s terrorists. Le Chiffre set up a poker game a Montenegro to receive a large sum of money. The head of M16, M (Judi Dench) sends Bond, along with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to attend this game and stop Le Chiffre from winning.

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To me Casino Royale is the Batman Begins of James Bond. It took the series in a more realistic direction and ultimately, the best direction it could go in. Casino Royale reboots the franchise with its new tone, a new Bond and a fresh start. This is one of, if not the best James Bond movie made.

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It has been argued by some die hard James Bond fans that this movie didn’t feel like a James Bond movie. It should be known that Casino Royale is the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming, in many ways this is a prequel to previous and later Bond movies being released. There aren’t any gadgets being used in this movie as much as previous Bond films did. Also a good thing to know is that you don’t have to have watched any of the previous Bond films to love this one, as the formula of the film is different from previous James Bond movies. Fans of the other Bond movies need to keep in mind that this is really the first James Bond; there were no gadgets, there were no one liners; this is Bond, before he really was Bond. The story’s pacing is done right, it isn’t the same as other Bond films but it was done well and was structured out well.

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This movie’s tone was grittier than previous movies so it required an actor who could portray James Bond’s new characterisation; Craig does that here and also manages to have a naturalistic feeling as him. Each actor who has played Bond has their own take on him and in Casino Royale, he is a much more ruthless and cold-blooded character than how some of the other actors portrayed him. Daniel Craig’s performance is one that I can buy as being realistic. The supporting cast was also great especially Mads Mikkelsen as the film’s main antagonist, Le Chiffre. He was a Bond villain that managed to feel grounded in reality instead of being like some of the over-the-top villains in the franchise, as well as having a realistic motive unlike some others (like Hugo Drax from Moonraker). Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd who is a love interest to James Bond and shares great chemistry with Craig. In my opinion, her character is one of the best bond girls as she managed to actually make an impact on Bond, unlike many of the others the James would later come across (that were in the previous movies). Judi Dench returns for the 5th time as M and also stole the scenes that she was in.

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The action in this movie is filmed well; it helps that this movie is under the direction of Martin Campbell, the man behind Goldeneye which was another great Bond Movie. The stunt work is also really good, especially a scene earlier in the film when Bond is in Madagascar. Casino Royale takes place in many locations and the cinematography is done very well in those many locations. The soundtrack also is very Bond-esque and gets the mood set up at the right moments.

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Casino Royale and Skyfall are my two favourite James Bond movies. I still don’t know what I prefer but either way, because of Casino Royale, the series introduced a tone that I liked more than some of the other films had. I’m glad that the Bond franchise is going in this direction. With a new type of Bond, a story that is really good and action scenes that are really entertaining, Casino Royale gave me what I wanted in a good Bond film and overall, a good film.