Tag Archives: Olga Kurylenko

Hitman (2007) Review

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Hitman

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, Offensive Language & Nudity
Cast:
Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47
Dougray Scott as Mike Whittier
Robert Knepper as Yuri Marklov
Olga Kurylenko as Nika Boronina
Director: Xavier Gens

Raised from childhood by the mysterious Diana organisation, Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) is the perfect killer, but when he is dispatched to kill the Russian president, 47 discovers that his employers have betrayed him. Taking prostitute, and possible witness to his last hit, Nika with him, the enigmatic assassin flees from both Interpol and the Russian secret service as he fights to uncover the root of the conspiracy.

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I’m not too familiar with the Hitman games and hadn’t played much of them before watching both movies, but I knew about it, and more recently I had played the 2016 game titled Hitman. The Hitman video game series made quite an impact even just when it came out. So it’s not really surprising that it eventually received a film adaptation in 2004. The movie itself not really a good representation of the character and games for the big screen, but there have been way worse video game movies.

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This script is written by Skip Woods of all people, and needless to say the writing is about as good as you’d expect from the man who wrote X-Men Origins Wolverine, Die Hard 5 and for whatever reason Hitman: Agent 47 (the other Hitman movie less than a decade later). I’ve only played one game but I’m pretty familiar with what the Hitman series is about, and I can definitely say that this movie isn’t accurate to the games. Agent 47 in this movie doesn’t act like one of those silent assassins like he was supposed to be in the game, he acts a lot more like the other types of assassins, the ones who are flashy, shoot a lot of people and look very ‘cool’. Plotwise, I barely remember what this movie is about. The plot is generic, convoluted and very difficult to follow, the dialogue is rather terrible too. There’s really nothing to connect with or to be excited by in the story. It’s just a rather bland action movie that so happens to have the Hitman and Agent 47 names attached do it.

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With Timothy Olyphant as Agent 47, I can’t tell whether it’s a good performance from him or whether it’s a phoned in one (even though he has confirmed he just took this role for a paycheck), I guess he fitted the silent assassin role, but he also seemed a little boring. The characterisation of 47 wasn’t really the best. Despite being established as a cold blooded assassin, he makes certain decisions that aren’t in line with the character, and don’t really make much sense. The thing is it’s not just that they had a completely different portrayal, they get somewhat close to the character but yet miss in major ways. I guess a few of the supporting cast are fine enough. Olga Kurylenko also works a little bit in her role, especially considering she was placed in the role of ‘forced love interest’. The whole relationship between the two just didn’t work, it was very difficult to buy, even if the two actors share enough good chemistry. Dougary Scott is a police officer hunting 47 down, and Robert Knepper is a villain. They’re not great but I guess they do the job fine enough.

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The direction by Xavier Gens wasn’t all that good, but I guess it wasn’t terrible either. None of the action scenes really fit Agent 47 as a character, a lot of him shooting multiple people with guns. Disregarding the video games however, the setups of them all are fine enough for an action movie. However a lot of the action scenes, especially one that took place in a train station, has too many cuts and so you couldn’t quite enjoy it as much. Not to mention they’re kind of just standard at best, not particularly exciting at all.

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As far as video game movies go, Hitman isn’t amongst the worst of them. However there’s not really enough to the movie to make it worth watching, for both non fans and fans alike. It really missed the point of the games and the character, but putting that aside it’s a pretty mediocre action movie, and the action scenes aren’t even entertaining enough to make it necessarily worth checking out. I guess it’s a harmless enough movie though, so if you wanted to kill 90 minutes on a movie, Hitman I guess is okay.

Max Payne (2008) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Mark Wahlberg as Detective Max Payne
Beau Bridges as B.B. Hensley
Ludacris as Lieutenant Jim Bravura
Mila Kunis as Mona Sax
Chris O’Donnell as Jason Colvin
Nelly Furtado as Christa Balder
Kate Burton as Nicole Horne
Donal Logue as Alex Balder
Amaury Nolasco as Jack Lupino
Olga Kurylenko as Natasha Sax
Director: John Moore

After the murders of his family and his partner, maverick cop Max (Mark Wahlberg) becomes hell-bent on revenge. Teamed with beautiful and deadly Russian mobster Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), Max journeys into a dark underworld to find the truth, but forces — both worldly and supernatural — align against him, determined to silence Max forever.

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I remember hearing about Max Payne when it came out, it was based on some video games and it looked like it had potential, the trailer was actually good (much better than the movie). However apparently it wasn’t very good. In terms of accuracy to the games, I’ve only played the third instalment of the game series (which I liked). As the movie is based off of the first two games I can’t say how it adapted the story, but whatever the case it’s still not a good movie. Max Payne is a pretty dull, poorly made movie, that won’t be enjoyed by people unfamiliar with the games, and I can imagine it only comes across worse for those who are.

As far as video games go, Max Payne is actually not that bad of an idea as a movie. The premise of a main character’s family being killed and him out for revenge is a simple enough story, and that could be easily adapted into a movie. Although I played the 3rd Max Payne game, I heard that this movie is based on the previous 2, so I can’t comment on how they handled the adaptation overall. Whatever the case though, whatever they were going for didn’t work as a movie on its all at all (and I heard that it really doesn’t do the games justice at all). The plot is rather dull and generic, like a run of the mill action flick. It’s just so uninteresting and you don’t care what’s going on, not with the characters, not with the story. Maybe on paper the plot isn’t terrible but they don’t make it engaging at all.

Most of the acting really wasn’t anything that good but it doesn’t help that every character is one dimensional. Mark Wahlberg can be good in some movies and on paper he didn’t even sound like a terrible casting choice for the title role but he feels kind of miscast here. You don’t really buy him in this role as someone who’s family is murdered and he’s out for revenge. It feels like the most boring version of Crime/Revenge Mark Wahlberg (if you’ve watched a lot of his movies I think you can tell what I’m meaning). It’s like ‘family murdered’ is the only characteristic given to Payne here, and Wahlberg doesn’t really feel believable in the role at all. Mila Kunis can be good in some movies but I really don’t buy her in her action role here, doesn’t really have much to do here. The rest of the acting is nothing impressive either, with actually the more stand out characters/actors being killed off pretty early on.

One thing that I knew going into this movie is that the director of Max Payne, John Moore, also directed A Good Day to Die Hard, and so I really wasn’t really looking forward to watching Max Payne because of that. One of the things I actually do like about Max Payne is that some of the environments are very noir-ish and snowy, I really like the aesthetic and it is by far the best part of the movie. Max Payne is a video game and so you’d can expect a lot of action – except the action actually happens an hour into the movie. While one could say that maybe they traded out the over the top action with a good mystery, the mystery wasn’t even that good. It’s a shame that much of the action when it’s on screen at times is rather incomprehensible with a lot of quick edits, and when you can tell what’s going on, it’s rather boring and like a generic and mediocre action movie . One of the highlights of the Max Payne games are the bullet time moments, where Max can slow down time to shoot enemies. The movie oddly doesn’t really take advantage of the bullet time and the one time that it does, it’s this really boring extreme slow-motion moment where he jumps backwards to shoot some guy behind him with a shotgun, bizarre moment to have that one bullet time moment. It really was a wasted opportunity. This movie is PG-13 and I didn’t really understand why. It’s a movie about a guy’s family getting murdered and the games were sort of R rated, so I don’t understand why they didn’t go all out with the violence. Apparently there is an R rated cut but it was originally planned to be PG-13 in the first place.

Max Payne isn’t even good enough as a basic action movie, it’s uninteresting, not that entertaining and all around not a good movie. Really the best part of this movie is that this it has a pretty great snowy aesthetic when it shows it. There’s actually some potential, especially with the video games its based on but its not on display here. A ton of people absolutely despise this movie but I’m not hating it. It’s a bad movie for sure, but it’s just rather dull and mediocre more than anything.

Quantum of Solace (2008) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Daniel Craig as James Bond
Olga Kurylenko as Camille Montes
Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene
Judi Dench as M
Gemma Arterton as Strawberry Fields
Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter
Director: Marc Forster

Following the death of Vesper Lynd, James Bond (Daniel Craig) makes his next mission personal. The hunt for those who blackmailed his lover leads him to ruthless businessman Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), a key player in the organization which coerced Vesper. Bond learns that Greene is plotting to gain total control of a vital natural resource, and he must navigate a minefield of danger and treachery to foil the plan.

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I had been meaning to re-watch Quantum of Solace for some time, with Daniel Craig’s last James Bond movie coming out next year (or at least it was before it was delayed). Some people really hated the movie, and I didn’t really know why. Many years ago I did watch Quantum of Solace but I don’t remember much of the movie, so I decided to rewatch it to see how I would find it. While I don’t think it’s terrible, I can see why a lot of people don’t really like it. Quantum of Solace has some high points but his significantly held back by an average script and action scenes with bad editing.

One of the biggest flaws with Quantum of Solace is the script by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, which really isn’t good. From what I can tell, director Mark Forster wanted to make the political circumstances in the story to be more realistic. That is why the film focussed on the global issue of the environment. While that concept might work for a political thriller, I’m not quite sure if it would quite work for Bond, and I’m someone who’s in favour for the Bond franchise to do new things in order to keep things fresh. I will give credit to them however for trying something new instead of having another Generic Evil Mastermind tries to take over world and instead trying to further set it into reality. It might’ve actually worked but taking a huge risk like this with a character and franchise like James Bond, it needs to be done in the right way to make it work, but the way it’s done here just falls flat. Odd direction of story aside, the main reason that the script has so many problems was the writer’s strike. Apparently at the time, they had a bare bones of a script and they couldn’t hire writers to finish it because of the writer’s strike, so Daniel Craig and Marc Forster had to work on it and do rewrites themselves during filming. Even Craig said that the film shouldn’t have started filming until the script was completed. Knowing all that after watching Quantum of Solace, everything makes sense now. As previously mentioned, the story is not that interesting, you don’t really care much about the characters or the story. The characters are particularly underdeveloped, the initial ideas of the characters were a good starting point but not good characters in the final product. It’s also not entirely easy to follow either, Bond films are almost always easy to follow but I got lost many times. In the end I just gave up on trying to figure out what entirely is going on. The film does bring up and ties up the Vesper and boyfriend storyline from Casino Royale (until Spectre brought it back up yet again) but it really didn’t feel necessary bringing that plotline back in the first place. The first movie seemingly tied up the plotline but most of all, that plotline is only slightly relevant to the plot in Quantum of Solace, like the main plot wasn’t going to bring up Vesper and all that as much originally but they added it in later on (with all the rewrites that’s entirely possible). This movie is actually short for a Daniel Craig Bond film, at about an hour 40 minutes long but it feels about 2 hours long. The length isn’t really an issue though, the writing itself was more the issue.

The best part about the movie is Daniel Craig, who once again gives it his all as James Bond, whether that be with the action scenes or the acting. With that said, there are some aspects of Bond here which feel lacking as a character (writing related). That can be said for pretty much all the characters. Olga Kuryenlko plays the “Bond Girl” in the movie and was decent enough in her role. She has a plotline about getting revenge on another character (which clearly parallels what’s happening with Bond after the events of Casino Royale) that works fine enough but wasn’t anything great. The villain Dominic Greene played by Mathieu Amalric is rather weak and not that good. Well, nothing about him is bad per se. It’s just that he’s not menacing, he’s not interesting, he’s not threatening, but most of all he’s forgettable. Even if he was annoying at least he would’ve been somewhat memorable, but you don’t really have any emotional feeling towards him at all. His plot and him as a character isn’t terrible but it feels like he’s a character from a different film that somehow ended up in a Bond film. Amalric does at least try his best with his role and out of all the main Daniel Craig Bond villains, he’s the only one so far who does physically take him on. Aside from that, there’s not much about Greene that works as a villain in a James Bond film. I think if he at least had a henchman who was an actual threat to Bond, that would’ve made up for it. With all that being said, rewatching the movie recently however, he does actually feel like a real character and while he wasn’t the best villain for Bond to be paired with, he was alright, albeit underwhelming. Amalric also does put everything he can into his role. Maybe it’s just rewatching Spectre that makes me appreciate Greene a lot more. Returning actors Judi Dench, Giancarlo Giannini and Jeffrey Wright are pretty good in their returning roles, though Wright as Felix Leiter does seem out of place as he doesn’t really do much (apparently early in the script he was meant to have a much bigger role but the re-writes cut down his role immensely). Other actors like Gemma Arteton and David Harbour are fine in their roles but they don’t really get to do much.

Marc Forster is a solid director, giving us movies like Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner, and with Quantum of Solace… the outcome was quite mixed. A lot of the movie is well filmed, it looks good, the locations are great and the setups to the action sequences look good. Interesting side note is that it really ups the violence, making it one of the most violent movies in the franchise (it’s between this and Licence to Kill). With all that potential, it would’ve been even better if we could’ve actually properly seen these action sequences. However, the hyperactive editing absolutely ruins these scenes, making some sequences that would otherwise be great, at times unwatchable. The only action scene not affected by this is a plane action sequence, which had the perfect editing for that scene and wasn’t jarring in the slightest. With a lot of the action scenes however, I couldn’t watch it for too long because sometimes it literally hurt to try to watch it. You just couldn’t tell what was happening a lot of the time. While the writer’s strike definitely affected the movie negatively, I’m not sure what happened with the editing. The editing for the rest of the movie was fine.

Quantum of Solace is a very mixed bag. On one hand, the setups to the action scenes are good, some of the story had some potential, some scenes are good and Daniel Craig is still great as James Bond. On the other hand, the action scenes don’t pay off because of the bad editing and the script is lacklustre and doesn’t feel complete. They really shouldn’t have gone ahead with filming until they absolutely nailed down the script beforehand. It’s disappointing that this movie didn’t turn out as well as it should’ve, it’s just not that memorable unfortunately. Still, I don’t think it’s bad but it’s not really a movie I will be revisiting (or remembering for that matter) any time soon.

Johnny English Strikes Again (2018) Review

Time: 89 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence & coarse language
Cast:
Rowan Atkinson as Johnny English
Olga Kurylenko as Ophelia
Ben Miller as Angus Bough
Adam James as Pegasus
Emma Thompson as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Pippa Bennett-Warner as Lesley
Jake Lacy as Jason
Director: David Kerr

The new adventure begins when a cyberattack reveals the identities of all active undercover agents in Britain, leaving Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) as the secret service’s last hope. Called out of retirement, English dives headfirst into action with the mission to find the mastermind hacker. As a man with few skills and analogue methods, Johnny English must overcome the challenges of modern technology to make this mission a success.

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It’s been so long since I’ve watched the first two Johnny English movies. They aren’t by any means great comedies but they were comedies that I found funny nonetheless. Johnny English is pretty much to Britain what Maxwell Smart is to America and Inspector Clouseau is to France. Now finally the third movie has come, 7 years after the second movie, which came 8 years after the first movie (never understood the big gap between the movies). Johnny English Strikes Again does pretty much the same thing as the first two movies and if you’re on board with them, you’ll be on board with this movie as well, I certainly was.

If you’ve watched any of the Johnny English movies, you know exactly what kind of movie you’ll be getting with the third movie. It’s full of slapstick humour and the “dumb guy who’s somehow ends up saving the day, often accidently” kind of humour (it’s probably called something else much more eloquent) and it once again works well here (at least for me it did). Johnny English 3 has a lot of jokes that you’d expect, not really doing anything you haven’t seen before. There are often times where you can easily identify the setups and payoffs, you can tell whenever English is going to mess up hilariously or something of the sort. It isn’t an unpredictable comedy, not particularly well written or smart. However, a lot of comedies aren’t well written or smart and yet this one can succeed when others really don’t. I had a good time with it but it’s not very memorable. Nonetheless I had an entertaining time watching it. This movie is less than an hour and 30 minutes long and that was honestly the right length for the movie, it doesn’t ever feel like it’s going to be too long.

Rowan Atkinson once again really shines in this movie as Johnny English, he hasn’t lost the energy that he displayed in the previous movies. He is by far the best part of the movie, and I think that even people who don’t like this movie can at least give credit to him for putting absolutely everything into his comedic delivery and performance. The rest of the cast do fine enough, with Olga Kurylenko, Ben Miller, Emma Thompson and others doing well in their roles. However, it is clear that Johnny English Strikes Again is really Atkinson’s show.

The direction by David Kerr was reasonably okay, for a comedy it serves it’s purpose well enough. The CGI can be pretty cheap a lot of the time, most of the time though the movie doesn’t really need to use much of it, so it’s a pretty small complaint to be had.

If you liked the other Johnny English movies, you’re going to like the 3rd one. If you don’t like them, stay away from this movie because you’ll just dislike it just as much (if not more). If you haven’t seen any of them, watch the original Johnny English, and see how you feel about it. As someone who likes the previous movies however, I really enjoyed it. No, it’s not special or very memorable compared to some other comedies but it keeps everything simple enough, and it is funny from start to finish.

Seven Psychopaths (2012)

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Seven Psychopaths

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sex scenes and offensive language
Cast:
Colin Farrell as Marty
Sam Rockwell as Billy
Woody Harrelson as Charlie
Christopher Walken as Hans
Tom Waits as Zachariach
Abbi Cornish as Kaya
Olga Kurylenko as Angela
Director: Martin McDonagh

Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is a struggling screenwriter who involuntarily becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) and Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken) kidnap a beloved Shih Tzu from Charlie Costello (Woody Harrelson) – who is a gangster.

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Martin McDonagh is a writer and director to be watched. In film, he has been on a roll, first releasing the Oscar winning short film Six Shooter, before moving onto In Bruges, a fantastic black comedy and he has down it again with Seven Psychopaths. Like In Bruges, it is a dark comedy but it is somehow bigger than its predecessor. I don’t know if it is better than In Bruges but it is very close to the level of greatness.

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One of the things I like about this movie is that the main character’s ideas for writing psychopaths come from mostly the people around him. This movie is bigger than In Bruges, where as that movie mostly took place in Bruges, Seven Psychopaths take place in multiple places and has more characters that it focuses on. One of the only flaws I could find in this movie it that is lacked some character development. There isn’t as much character development as In Bruges but in this movie I didn’t mind it that much. Also like with In Bruges, it contains Tarantino violence. Tarantino violence involves is a lot of blood that has been exaggerated – so note that this movie is probably not for the faint of heart. With In Bruges, with the exception of a couple scenes, the violence mostly took place in the second half and was mostly used in serious situations. Here, there is more of it but it mostly is used for comedy. That’s also one thing that I’ve noticed, In Bruges seems to have 60% drama and 40% comedy, where as with Seven Psychopaths, the movie has about 40% drama and 60% comedy. Martin McDonagh somehow manages to pull it off. If I was asked which movie out of both of them was the most fun, I’d probably say Seven Psychopaths.

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All of the actors do a great job, the two stand outs however are Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell. Christopher Walken is always fun to watch but in this movie he’s not just parodying himself. He is great and has many classic, priceless scenes. The same can be said for Sam Rockwell. This is his best performance in years and is absolutely hilarious. For me, the best scene he’s in involves a camp fire. All the actors had brilliant comedic timing and played off each other really well. Each one of them has their moment to shine to show off their talents in this movie.

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The cinematography is good as it was with In Bruges and like I said above, this film takes place in more than one place. The cinematographers really make great use of the locations. One thing I have noticed with the cinematography though that is different is the tone; In Bruges had a darker look while this movie seems to have a brighter look to it. The soundtrack has compositions from Carter Burwell but also features some other songs that fit in very well with many scenes in the movie.

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Martin McDonagh’s follow up to In Bruges really proves that he is a great writer and director. From watching his two movies alone, I’m very excited to see what he does in the future. Because of his writing and the cast’s acting this film manages to be one of my favourite movies, along with In Bruges. Like its predecessor, Seven Psychopaths was a big surprise and should be seen if you liked In Bruges.