Tag Archives: Michael Nyqvist

A Hidden Life (2019) Review

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A Hidden Life

Time: 174 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
August Diehl as Franz Jägerstätter
Valerie Pachner as Franziska Jägerstätter
Karin Neuhauser as Rosalia Jagerstatter
Michael Nyqvist as Bishop Joseph Fliesser
Jürgen Prochnow as Major Schlegel
Matthias Schoenaerts as Captain Herder
Bruno Ganz as Judge Lueben
Director: Terrence Malick

Based on real events, A Hidden Life is the story of an unsung hero, Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl), who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War 2. When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner), and children, that keeps his spirit alive.

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A Hidden Life was a movie I was paying attention to for a while. Terrence Malick is a divisive filmmaker, but I’ve seen almost all of his movies (not gotten around to The New World yet) and I liked most of them. After Tree of Life which most people liked, Malick got a little more experimental and loose with his narrative, and not everyone has warmed to his next few movies. A Hidden Life however seemed to be a lot more focused and conventional in terms of story, and I was curious what he’d be doing with this movie, especially with one based on a true story. Having seen it, this might actually be one of Terrence Malick’s best movies.

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First thing to note is that A Hidden Life is nearly 3 hours long. While I really like Malick, I always get the feeling of his movies being stretched out, and this is indeed one of his longest movies. I will say that you do feel the runtime here and I wish this movie was trimmed down just a little bit (probably mainly some parts with the main character’s family in the second half as it begins to be a little repetitive, but otherwise the length didn’t bother me too much, I was pretty invested. It doesn’t do that thing where it meanders like Knight of Cups, Song to Song or To the Wonder, it seems pretty steady with its focus on the story. The story is deeply emotional and reflective, and unlike some of his other movies, there is a strong dramatic backbone throughout. It’s also thematically strong, about right and wrong, faith, and the like. Although it was a long experience, I really felt it was all worth it.

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The acting from everyone is good, but it’s the two main performances that are particularly incredible. That is of August Diehl who plays the main character, and Valerie Pachner as his wife. Both gives generally internalised but very emotional and believable performances, deserving of very high praise. I do think it’s worth noting that this film also features the final on-screen appearances of Bruno Ganz and Michael Nyqvist.

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Terrence Malick as usual directs beautifully. You do get the familiar Malickisms, the beautiful music, the shots following people, the usual editing, voiceovers, if you’ve seen his other movies, you know what to expect here. While his style isn’t for everyone, I liked it, and he’s done some great work here. While Malick films are typically shot by Emmanuel Lubezki, this time the cinematography is done by Jörg Widmer, and it’s a gorgeous looking movie, making great use of the locations and environment. Definitely among some of the best cinematography in a 2019 film. It’s such an intimate movie and not on such a large scale like some of Malick’s other movies, but it’s directed just as well. While some have called some of his most recent uses of voiceovers to be bordering on self parody, with A Hidden Life, it definitely has a strong purpose. The music by James Newton Howard is also great and works perfectly for the movie.

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A Hidden Life is an emotional, at times harrowing, yet beautiful and excellently well made film, and a stand out from 2019. A Hidden Life probably won’t work for those who haven’t seen a Terrence Malick movie before, or aren’t a fan of any of his movies. However to those who are, it’s really worth checking out.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt
Jeremy Renner as William Brandt
Simon Pegg as Benjamin “Benji” Dunn
Paula Patton as Jane Carter
Michael Nyqvist as Kurt Hendricks
Anil Kapoor as Brij Nath
Léa Seydoux as Sabine Moreau
Director: Brad Bird

Blamed for a terrorist attack on the Kremlin, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and the entire IMF agency are disavowed by the U.S. government, while the president initiates the Ghost Protocol. Forced to go “off the grid” — left without resources or backup — Hunt must somehow clear the agency’s name and prevent another attack. Complicating matters even more, Ethan must undertake the impossible mission with a group of fellow IMF fugitives whose actual motives are suspect.

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Recently I’ve been watching the Mission Impossible movies (in reverse order) in preparation for the latest instalment (Fallout) to be released. From what I can tell, before 2011, Mission Impossible wasn’t doing so great as a series. JJ Abrams salvaged the series from extinction with 3 but it wasn’t a huge success. Despite that, Paramount Pictures were keen on developing a fourth film. It’s in 2011 when the next instalment would be created by director Brad Bird of The Incredibles fame. Ghost Protocol was a huge success when it came out and for good reason, it’s a fresh spy movie with Brad Bird’s direction playing a large part in its success. While I don’t consider it to be the best movie in the series, it’s still rather solid and memorable as both an action movie and as a Mission Impossible.

On top of being thrilling, Ghost Protocol is also really funny, you really feel the tonal difference from the other Mission Impossible movies and it really works here. The previous movies in the Mission Impossible series seemed to be mostly the Tom Cruise show, 1 and 3 had some of that but here they really work as a team throughout the entire movie. Outside of the first 30 or so minutes, the film is split in two parts, one is the Dubai segment, and the other is the climax in India. The Dubai segment is great, filled with great tension, action and suspense. What works so well is that you really feel like these characters are on their own and vulnerable. It seems that pretty much every Mission Impossible movie consists of the main characters (or Ethan Hunt at least) being hunted down, on the run and vulnerable. However Ghost Protocol really shows them as being a little vulnerable and in difficult situations. This movie goes all out with some of the gadgets, but despite how impressive some of the gadgets are, many of them don’t work perfectly, some of them don’t work at all. Even the mission reader that Ethan Hunt gets with the message starting with “Your message, should you choose to accept it” and ends with “This message will self destruct in 5 seconds” fails to successfully self destruct. Even though you know that by the end of the movie everything will be alright, Ghost Protocol is very effective with its tension. Ghost Protocol does have a slight issue, the movie really peaks at the Dubai segment. While the rest of the movie is still pretty good, it doesn’t live up to the previous act and is relatively decent but lesser in comparison. The plot can be a little convoluted at times but not enough to bring down the movie. I’m not really sure that it’s a problem but despite the movie being over 2 hours and 10 minutes long, it feels much shorter. However I feel a large part of that is due to the structure. There seems to be a location each for the last two acts, which feels very jarring compared to other movies where it takes place in multiple places.

The cast are all good, as I previously said, there wasn’t as much emphasise focussing on a team in previous movies. Now however they are developed adequately enough and get a lot to do. Tom Cruise as usual is effortlessly good as Ethan Hunt, delivering on playing the character as well as the physical stunts, absolutely fearless in the things that he does such as the Burj Khalifa tower climbing scene. Simon Pegg was introduced in Mission Impossible 3 in a smaller role, here he gets to do quite a lot more. Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner also do their parts rather well. The team all worked together very well. The villain is played by the late Michael Nyqvist, who is a really good actor. However his character wasn’t that great. His performance is good and the character does have a good setup but the problem is that aside from two scenes in the first act, he’s really just in the climax, and we aren’t given enough time with him. So by the end he ends up feeling rather flat. A supporting villain played by Lea Seydoux does much better in her role.

Until Mission Impossible: Fallout, the tradition was for each film in the series to be directed by a different person. With each Mission Impossible film you can really see each director lend their style to the film, Bird is no exception, who made his live action film debut here. His direction is a big reason why you are constantly interested and entertained throughout. The famous Burj Khalifa climbing sequence still holds up very well today, absolutely tense throughout. However Bird is also good at creating tension during the non action scenes as well. The action scenes themselves are pretty good themselves, from the fight scenes to the chase scenes. The movie does have a really good look to it. There was some explosions in the first act of the movie that looked a little fake but outside of that there wasn’t anything really distracting about the effects.

Mission impossible Ghost Protocol 7 years later is still a really good movie. Brad Bird has made a very entertaining and thrilling movie which still holds up very well. There maybe some minor issues but its not enough to really take away from the overall enjoyment of the movie. I still think that Rogue Nation is the best movie to date (Fallout could change that), but Ghost Protocol still holds up as being one of the highlights of the series.

John Wick (2014) Review

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Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & offensive language
Cast:
Keanu Reeves as John Wick
Michael Nyqvist as Viggo Tarasov
Alfie Allen as Iosef Tarasov
Adrianne Palicki as Ms. Perkins
Bridget Moynahan as Helen Wick
Dean Winters as Avi
Ian McShane as Winston
John Leguizamo as Aurelio
Willem Dafoe as Marcus
Director: Chad Stahelski, David Leitch

After the sudden death of his beloved wife, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) receives one last gift from her, a beagle puppy named Daisy, and a note imploring him not to forget how to love. But John’s mourning is interrupted when his 1969 Boss Mustang catches the eye of sadistic thug Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) who breaks into his house and steals it, beating John unconscious and leaving Daisy dead. Unwittingly, they have just reawakened one of the most brutal assassins the underworld has ever seen.

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With the sequel coming sometime soon, I thought I should give my thoughts on the original John Wick. John Wick was one of the most surprising movies of 2014. It wasn’t just a standard Keanu Reeves action flick, it was actually something special, garnering a strong reception and following. It is an entertaining and thrilling action movie.

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The story really isn’t anything special. It’s a revenge story, just with the main character being a former hitman. It’s the execution of the story that makes this movie work so well. The story is set out well, the pace never feeling too fast or too long. The world of John Wick is one of the stand out parts of the movie (which is saying a lot). The world is absolutely incredible and interesting, laid out well. I can’t wait to see how the sequel explores this world. This movie is engaging and riveting, it really never lost my attention once.

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This is the best Keanu Reeves has ever been in a movie (it’s also probably the best movie that Keanu Reeves has ever been in). He is really is believable in this role, and not just in the action scenes, he does actually act well in this movie, he’s not just playing Keanu Reeves like he has in certain other movies. It really does help that Keanu Reeves does his own stunts, it is much easier to buy him as this character. The supporting performances were also great. Michael Nyqvust was quite effective as the main villain as Iosef’s father (and a mob boss), completely owning every scene he’s in. Also, Willem Dafoe, Alfie Allen, Ian McShane and even John Leguizamo were good in their roles (however I would’ve liked if we saw more of Willem Dafoe).

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The action is absolutely fantastic. It doesn’t have a lot of shaky cam or unnecessary quick cuts like most action movies nowadays have. The stunt work was also fantastic (it helps with both directors being stunt men), the fights are intense and don’t feel fake at all. Another thing I liked was that although John Wick is incredibly good at what he does, he’s still human, he doesn’t always win perfectly against people just because he’s John Wick. That makes the action a lot more riveting, he’s not just Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando or something. In terms of the standout action scene, there’s a sequence that takes place in a nightclub (which reminded me of the nightclub scene in Collateral). In terms of flaws, I guess maybe the last action sequence was slightly underwhelming but that’s probably because everything else in the film was so great that it just paled in comparison.

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John Wick has a fantastic world, solid performances, entertaining action, everything you want from an action movie. As I said, the concept of the story itself is nothing special, it’s the execution that makes this film so excellent. If you haven’t already, definitely see John Wick when you can, especially before seeing the sequel which comes out (or already came out depending where you are in the world).