Tag Archives: Steven Knight

Taboo Season 1 (2017) Review

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Taboo Season 1

Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence, sexual violence, offensive language & sex scenes
Cast:
Tom Hardy as James Keziah Delaney
Leo Bill as Benjamin Wilton
Jessie Buckley as Lorna Delaney
Oona Chaplin as Zilpha Geary
Stephen Graham as Atticus
Jefferson Hall as Thorne Geary
David Hayman as Brace
Edward Hogg as Michael Godfrey
Franka Potente as Helga von Hinten
Michael Kelly as Edgar Dumbarton
Tom Hollander as Dr George Cholmondeley
Marina Hands as Countess Musgrove
Jonathan Pryce as Sir Stuart Strange
Jason Watkins as Solomon Coop
Nicholas Woodeson as Robert Thoyt
Creator: Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy

James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) returns to 1814 London after 10 years in Africa to discover that he has been left a mysterious legacy by his father. Driven to wage war on those who have wronged him, Delaney finds himself in a fact-off against the East India Company, whilst playing a dangerous game between two warring nations, Britain and America.

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I knew about Taboo for some years, I just knew it as some period tv show with Tom Hardy in the lead role, that’s it though. Having watched a number of Hardy’s movies recently however, I thought that it would be the best time to Taboo’s first and currently only season. I eventually got around to it and I’m glad I did. Taboo may have its fair share of issues, but I really liked what I saw from this season.

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One of the biggest comparisons that has been made with this show was to Peaky Blinders, a show that Steven Knight also wrote and created. Both are period crime dramas that star Tom Hardy, but make no mistake, they are very different shows. While Peaky Blinders had its slower moments, it was much more entertaining, flashy and fast placed. Taboo is much more of a slow burn, and that’s probably the main thing that will turn some people off the show. If you intend on watching through all of Taboo going in, I highly recommend watching multiple episodes in each sitting. If you say only watch one episode a day, it more than likely feel like a drag to get through it all. I watched about 2-3 episodes a day and that worked for me. I won’t deny that it was quite slow to begin with, but the further you get into it, the more invested you become and the better it becomes. The second half in particular is better, with the last two episodes standing out the most. While the pacing doesn’t necessarily pick up, the plotlines become more interesting, it’s just that to begin with you’re not as into it just yet. There are 8 episodes in the first season of Taboo, each being an hour long, and I thought that was about the right length for this season. This show also is a little weird, mainly is that there is an element of magic when it comes to Tom Hardy’s character that’s quite present throughout the show, and he even has some visions at times. It doesn’t bother me particularly, but I thought it was worth pointing out, especially with such a gritty show like this that it’s a little stranger than it initially looks.

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Tom Hardy is front and centre for the vast majority, and Taboo is very much his show, in fact he’s the main reason most people even checked this show out. Hardy is reliant as an actor, and his work in this show is no exception. As protagonist James Delaney, Hardy has immense screen presence. Sure Delaney is yet another broody TV anti hero, cunning, ruthless and with a lot of issues, but he works exceptionally well for this show, mainly because of Tom Hardy’s work, especially with the fact that he actually is one of the creators of the show alongside his father and Steven Knight. While Hardy is fantastic as usual, the supporting cast deserve to be noted as well, even if some get more chances to shine than others. Among the highlights were Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, Tom Hollander and Jonathan Pryce. Additionally, you have Stephen Graham and Mark Gattis who also work in their roles. The only character I thought was a little mishandled was that of James’s half-sister/lover played by Oona Chaplin, whose story arc was a little half baked and felt like a weak link compared to the rest of the storylines.

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Taboo is directed very well, with the first half by Kristoffer Nyholm and the second half by Anders Engstrom. The period of the 1810s is very well portrayed, from the costumes, the production design, all of it works, also excellently showcased through the cinematography by Mark Patten. Much of the show looks very muddy, grimy and dirty, and that perfectly is in line with the tone of the show. The show doesn’t feature that many scenes of violence (at least compared to the likes of Peaky Blinders), but the violence that occurs can be very brutal and gruesome, so it’s not really a show for the faint of heart. One other technical aspect of the show that is well worth noting is the great score by Max Richter, his themes really added a lot to the show and made already good scenes significantly better. It’s not surprising given that Richter is a really good composer, but this probably ranks among my favourite works of his.

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Taboo isn’t a show for everyone, it is slow, it is gruesome, it gets weird, it takes a while to really come into its own, and not everyone can really get into it. However, if you like dark movies/shows, or even if you just like Tom Hardy, I reckon that it’s worth checking out, at least watch the first 4 episodes. I have no idea whether Taboo is getting another season (with Steven Knight intending this to be a 3 season long series), apparently it is happening but for whatever reason it’s taking a very long time for it to release. As someone who liked the first season, I really want to see it happen. From the point that season 1 ended, it feels like the story of the show has only just started and I want to see where Knight is intending to take this story.

Serenity (2019) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Cast:
Matthew McConaughey as Baker Dill
Anne Hathaway as Karen Zariakas
Diane Lane as Constance
Jason Clarke as Frank Zariakas
Djimon Hounsou as Duke
Jeremy Strong as Reid Miller
Director: Steven Knight

Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fishing boat captain who leads tours off of the tranquil enclave of Plymouth Island. His peaceful life is soon shattered when his ex-wife Karen (Anne Hathaway) tracks him down. Desperate for help, Karen begs Baker to save her — and their young son — from her abusive husband (Jason Clarke). She wants him to take the brute out for a fishing excursion — then throw him overboard to the sharks. Thrust back into a life that he wanted to forget, Baker now finds himself struggling to choose between right and wrong.

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I think I might’ve heard about Serenity a little while ago. The cast consists of Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway but also this would be writer/director Steven Knight’s second film, after his debut with Locke. However, what got me really noticing the movie was the response to it, it wasn’t just badly received, it was labelled a hilarious disaster. Eventually I caved in and decided to watch it, it really wasn’t a good movie but it was fascinatingly bad at points, which at least gave it some entertainment value.

Steven Knight has written a lot with the likes of Eastern Promises and of course his directorial debut Locke, so it’s clear that he has quite a bit of talent at writing. While I hadn’t watched all of his written movies, I thought that The Girl in the Spider’s Web would be his worst work, Serenity proved me wrong however. Much of the movie moves really slow and is about catching fish, so even though the main plot is about Anne Hathaway getting Matthew McConaughey to kill her husband, it’s stretched over a long period of time, and mostly just being him trying to catch a particular fish. There are so many absurd things done over the course of the movie and it just end up being hilarious. Matthew McConaughey is constantly after a fish named Justice, there’s a character who literally refers to himself as “The Rules”, and some things that are meant to be taken seriously are just done in such a silly way (there are even more examples but border into spoiler territory, so I won’t go into depth with those). Some of the dialogue is quite weird and unnatural, “I’m a hooker with no hooks” and “We haven’t caught jack since your wife died” are among some of the odd lines of dialogue that we are blessed with. You’d think that this is at the very least a partial comedy given all the genres it tries to be but it actually plays the whole story very seriously. Being written averagely is one thing. However in terms of movie breaking issues, there’s a big chunk of the movie I can’t talk about because of spoilers, and that’s the twists and the direction of the story. You get hints of the main twist in the first 30 minutes and you can figure it out pretty quickly. Then at the hour mark it just reveals everything to the audience, it’s worse than that, they spell it out for the audience. The concept of the twist isn’t bad itself but it needed to be handled much better than how it was, because the end result was honestly pretty ridiculous and doesn’t work at all. It goes in such a far off direction from what you’re expecting going in, it’s really bonkers. When you look back on many of the events knowing the twist, there are a lot of things that don’t add up and it just makes the movie even more silly. With that twist, it’s like Serenity is trying to have 5 genres all in one movie, and none of them go together at all.

This movie has quite the talented cast, unfortunately the film really didn’t utilise them that well, even if they try their best. Matthew McConaughey’s performance isn’t bad, he puts everything that he could into this movie. Yes, his performance can be pretty over the top at times, and him getting ‘dramatic’ and randomly yelling at some points, you can’t help but find him to be hilarious, honestly though I can’t blame him too much, at least he tried. Anne Hathaway also tries her best in her role, but she too is held back by the writing. Despite working together on Interstellar, you wouldn’t know that McConaughey and Hathaway had even seen each other before filming, and keep in mind that the two characters are like ex-spouses. The chemistry between them is non existent. The rest of the cast don’t really get anything to work with. Jason Clarke plays Hathway’s abusive husband (given no subtlety or humanity whatsoever and is basically a cartoon throughout much of the movie), Diane Lane’s only purpose in the film is to have sex with McConaughey and Djimon Hounsou is just sort of in there in the movie and isn’t that significant in the plot.

Steven Knight’s direction of Locke was simple but effective, even though it largely just took place inside a car in one night. Here he works on a much larger scale, and while his work here isn’t disastrous, it’s got a lot of problems. To be fair to Serenity, it can look really good at some points. However, some of the decisions like the zoom ins and fast paced moments, as well as the occasionally jarring editing really take you out of the whole experience. Even the music was pretty generic and didn’t fit with the movie at all.

Serenity was a really weird misfire of a movie. It really all comes back to the writing, with its weird dialogue, a plot with many ideas that don’t come together, and add upon those ludicrous twists that don’t work at all, it’s a fascinating movie to watch. I can see why it was pushed a couple of times from last year to January of this year. In terms of positives, Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway do their best with the material that they have, and the cinematography can be alright at points, but they can’t save this movie from being a mess. While I wouldn’t put it under the so-bad-it’s-good category like so many people have, I’d say that it is strange and unintentionally funny enough that it might be worth a watch.

Locke (2013) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast
Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke
Ruth Wilson as Katrina Locke
Olivia Colman as Bethan Maguire
Andrew Scott as Donal
Ben Daniels as Gareth
Tom Holland as Eddie Locke
Bill Milner as Sean Locke
Director: Steven Knight

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a dedicated family man and successful construction manager, receives a phone call on the eve of the biggest challenge of his career that sets in motion a series of events that threaten his carefully cultivated existence.

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On paper, Locke seems like an impossible concept to make into a good movie. A movie that was just an hour 30 minutes of someone in a car making phone calls seemed like it would be rather boring. Don’t let that concept put you off, because Locke is truly great. Along with a brilliant script and impressive direction, lead Tom Hardy gives one of the best performances I’ve seen in a very long time. Locke is worth watching even just for Hardy’s performance.

As I said, this movie is about one man in a car making phone calls, for about 90 minutes. In order for this to work the script would need to be something incredible. Thankfully, Steven Knight’s script is brilliant and holds your attention from start to finish. I wouldn’t say that this film is very structured, it played out in real life, there are several things going on at once. I guess one of the subplots which involves something happening at Locke’s work isn’t quite as interesting as the others, but it’s still pretty good. I don’t want to go into too much depth about the plotlines and what is driving him to make certain decisions because I don’t want to spoil anything, I think its better experiencing and finding out for yourself. I was riveted from start to finish and given its concept, that’s very admirable. I guess if you aren’t into dialogue driven movies, you probably will find this a little boring and uninteresting. But I do recommend giving it a chance, even if you don’t usually watch these kinds of films.

This whole movie is basically Tom Hardy’s. This is one of Tom Hardy’s all time best performances, and considering all the spectacular performances he’s given, that’s really saying a lot. There are some moments where Tom Hardy is just in the car driving without speaking and he can convey his emotions so clearly. He’s also incredibly subtle, considering many of the things that are going on and that he’s dealing with, he doesn’t feel over the top or showy at any point. I also thought the change in accents really worked well, and helped make him seem a lot more calm. Other actors like Andrew Scott, Olivia Colman and Tom Holland do voicework as certain characters that Hardy’s Locke phones up and they are great in their roles. But of course its Hardy who steals the show and is the highlight of the cast and the film.

There’s not much to say about the direction of the movie by writer/director Steven Knight, but it does enough to maintain your interest incredibly well. It doesn’t overshadow Hardy and really focusses in on him and his reactions, allowing us to see his reactions and performance. The moments when Hardy isn’t talking at all are great, some of the silent moments are among the best scenes of the whole film.

Locke is a fantastic movie, with a unique and risky concept executed very well by Steven Knight and with an absolutely incredible lead performance by the excellent Tom Hardy. I don’t see Locke as a movie that can be rewatched many times, but that’s not a slant against Locke, not all great movies are rewatchable. It’s at least worth watching once for Steven Knight’s great and captivating writing but most of all, Tom Hardy’s flawless performance. Definitely check it out when you can.