Tag Archives: Tom Bateman

Thirteen Lives (2022) Review

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Thirteen Lives

Time: 147 Minutes
Cast:
Viggo Mortensen as Richard Stanton
Colin Farrell as John Volanthen
Joel Edgerton as Richard Harris
Tom Bateman as Chris Jewell
Director: Ron Howard

A rescue mission is assembled in Thailand where a group of young boys and their soccer coach are trapped in a system of underground caves that are flooding.

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I remember hearing the story of the rescue of a youth soccer team in a cave in Thailand back in 2018, and its no surprise that a movie would end up being made based on it. That eventually resulted in one such film directed by Ron Howard. I haven’t seen the documentary about the same event called The Rescue which came out a year earlier, but I liked Thirteen Lives.

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Thirteen Lives is well scripted, the story is simple and is told in a straightforward way. I only knew the very basics of the real story, so some of the reveals and directions the story went in did genuinely surprise me, especially with the methods the divers took to rescue the people from the cave. While it is a dramatization and certain moments might’ve been added in just to raise the tension, it keeps any added melodrama to a minimum. The story didn’t need additional work and speaks for itself. Despite knowing the outcome of the story, the stakes felt high and it was compelling watching everyone come together in an effort to try to save all those lives. There isn’t a lot of character development, as a result I do think that it doesn’t quite have the emotional impact that it is aiming for. This is a long movie at 2 hours and 30 minutes long, and while I was invested in what is going on, it does admittedly overstay its welcome a bit, and is a bit too long.

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One of the strongest aspects was the great acting. Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen are great as the cave divers from the UK who try to rescue the boys. The rest of the cast are strong from (an especially great) Joel Edgerton, Tom Bateman, and everyone else, down to the actors who play the kids trapped in the cave.

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Ron Howard directs this movie very well and he especially succeeds at making everything feel effectively tense. The cave diving scenes are some of the highlights of the movie, well shot, riveting and claustrophobic. There is some impressive underwater camera work and great sound design that makes you feel like you’re right there with the divers as they navigate the dark and cramped caves. I can’t speak as to how it was in real life, but it certainly felt authentic. Its also helped by the score from a solid score from an ever reliable Benjamin Wallfisch.

THIRTEEN LIVES (2022)

Thirteen Lives is a solid thriller and admirable retelling of the true events. It may be a little too long and the lack of characterisation does take away from the movie somewhat, but on the whole its really good, with the straightforward storytelling, strong performances, and Ron Howard’s direction. Worth checking out.

Death on the Nile (2022) Review

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Death on the Nile (2022)

Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Bateman as Bouc
Annette Bening as Euphemia
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot
Russell Brand as Linus Windlesham
Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian
Dawn French as Mrs. Bowers
Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle
Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle
Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget
Emma Mackey as Jacqueline “Jackie” de Bellefort
Sophie Okonedo as Salome Otterbourne
Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler
Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne
Director: Kenneth Branagh

Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s Egyptian vacation aboard a glamorous river steamer turns into a terrifying search for a murderer when a picture-perfect couple’s idyllic honeymoon is tragically cut short.

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I will admit myself as someone who liked Kenneth Branagh’s take on Murder on the Orient Express, even if it had its issues. So I was on board for Branagh’s next adaptation of a Hercule Poirot story with Death on the Nile. I didn’t really know what to expect going in, I just knew of the cast and premise. However it just kept being delayed for a number of years, and I began to lose interest. It finally released and again it opened to mixed reactions and again I enjoyed it, even with its issues.

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Death on the Nile isn’t a great detective mystery film, but its pretty good for what it was. For me, the clearest issue was that the death at the centre of the mystery doesn’t happen till the halfway point, whereas in Murder on the Orient Express it happened by the end of the first act. While Death on the Nile gives us a considerable amount of time with the characters before the murder happens especially in contrast to the last movie, it’s a bit too much. There’s a long boat ride before it reaches that one death, and I couldn’t help but feel rather bored. When that death does finally happen, that’s where Death on the Nile really picks up as our lead detective tries to unravel the mystery. I was locked in and interested to see the twists and turns. However, I will say that the climax did feel a bit rushed. Also as someone who hadn’t read the book, with the way its presented in the movie, the twist was very easy to predict. One thing you’ll probably notice when watching the movie is that it might be taking itself a little too seriously. The previous movie also took itself seriously but there was lot more fun to be had with it. Here, it’s pretty dark from beginning to end and I’m not sure it always works, even if there’s little bits of humour. Even the ending was a bit of a downer. There are certainly some strange choices but I kind of admire them in a way. For example, there is an actual origin story for Poirot’s moustache in the prologue that’s played deadly seriously and honestly that could be a litmus test for whether the movie works for you or not. Also, like Orient Express (2017), there’s definitely a lot of cheesy, campy and over the top elements but I enjoyed those, if anything I wished it leaned into those elements more here.

Film Review - Death on the Nile

On the whole the cast is pretty good, even if they aren’t as strong as the cast from Murder on the Orient Express. Kenneth Branagh reprises his role as detective Hercule Poirot to perfection, and has great chemistry with the whole cast. Again, he plays the character in a humorous and entertaining way but we also get to see more of his dramatic side here, and Branagh plays it well. The cast of murder suspects are fairly generic here, but the acting was pretty good for the most part. Tom Bateman’s Bouc is the only cast member from the last movie to return outside of Branagh, and he gets even more to do more here. A lot of the cast members were good, with the highlights being Annette Bening, Emma Mackey and Sophie Okonedo. Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer were the worst performers, but they weren’t enough to take me out of the movie entirely.

DEATH ON THE NILE

I liked Kenneth Branagh’s direction of the previous Poirot movie and the same is true with Nile. The cinematography is dazzling and impressive, every shot is colourful and pristine, especially with the scenes on the Nile and on real location. However the CGI is very noticeable and distracting at times, and there is a lot of CGI. Patrick Doyle also returns to do the score and it is good, matching the vibe and setting of the movie quite well.

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As someone who liked Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, I enjoyed his Death on the Nile almost as much. It has a decent cast with an intriguing murder mystery, and a very flashy style that I enjoyed, even if you wouldn’t put it among the best films in its genre. Overall it’s a solid if slightly unremarkable bit of detective fiction. However, I will say that the hour long build up to the central murder really let the movie down quite a bit, but I still enjoyed it for what it was. If you liked Branagh’s last Poirot movie, then I recommend giving his adaptation of Death on the Nile a look.

Cold Pursuit (2019) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, suicide themes, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Nels Coxman
Tom Bateman as Trevor “Viking” Calcote
Tom Jackson as White Bull Legrew
Emmy Rossum as Kim Dash
Domenick Lombardozzi as Mustang
Julia Jones as Aya
John Doman as John “Gip” Gipsky
Laura Dern as Grace
Director: Hans Petter Moland

Nels Coxman’s (Liam Neeson) quiet life as a snowplow driver comes crashing down when his beloved son dies under mysterious circumstances. His search for the truth soon becomes a quest for revenge against a psychotic drug lord named Viking (Tom Bateman) and his sleazy henchmen. Transformed from upstanding citizen to coldblooded vigilante, Coxman unwittingly sets off a chain of events that includes a kidnapping, a series of deadly misunderstandings and a turf war between Viking and a rival boss (Tom Jackson).

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Liam Neeson ever since 2008’s Taken has starred in a bunch of revenge thrillers, so one could be forgiven for completely blanking on this year’s Cold Pursuit as just being more of the same, albeit set in the snow. That or it is just remembered as that one movie where Neeson said some things on a press tour that got him into some hot water to say the least. I was meaning to check it out earlier but missed it at the cinemas, so checked it out more recently. Cold Pursuit has its issues but its pretty entertaining overall.

It’s around 90 minutes long and for the most part it’s paced reasonably well. It starts off like you’d expect it to, it shows Liam Neeson in his normal life, tragedy strikes with his son being killed, and then he goes on his path of revenge. The second act is when you really notice something strange about the tone of the movie. As previously mentioned, this is a dark comedy and is very offbeat throughout, and you should probably know that going in or the experience is going to be a little surprising to say the least. You think that it would mainly focus on Liam Neeson, and while he is very prominent, it also focuses on two other groups of characters, one led by the main antagonist Viking, and the other being another crime group who would come into conflict with Viking. Personally I liked how they handled it, mostly because in the third act everything comes together to really work to hilarious effect (no spoilers). However the second act is a little stretched out, even if the runtime of the movie is shorter, and I would’ve liked to have seen more of Neeson, he needed to be in the movie a little more (particularly in the second act).

It really feels like Liam Neeson was cast in the lead role for a reason given his typical lead revenge roles, and he’s effortlessly good as expected. This time however, this isn’t a Liam Neeson with a particular set of skills, just a normal guy who is out for revenge. Tom Bateman plays the drug lord and the main antagonist of the movie. He’s crazy and unhinged but he’s mostly used for comedy, as he doesn’t really do anything till like the third act. He’s just so over the top but in the right kind of way, he’s deliberately not meant to be taken seriously. Most of the rest of the cast is fine as well. There is a subplot following a couple cops played by Emmy Rossum and John Doman, and while the two are okay in their roles, their parts didn’t really amount to anything. It’s almost like they’re in the movie to show that police exist in this town but they basically contribute nothing to the plot. The worst treatment of a character/actor is definitely with Laura Dern as Neeson’s wife. It’s actually kind of ridiculous, she appears for scenes before and after her son’s death, and then they just disappear and aren’t mentioned or seen ever again. I heard that apparently it was like that with the original movie, but then I wish the director then would’ve improved the role instead of keeping it the same.

Turns out that this movie is actually an English language remake of In Order of Disappearance, a film also made by the same director, Hans Petter Moland. He really does place you in the snowy location very well. His direction is especially great when it comes to the comedy. For example, every time someone dies, a title card comes up with the name of the person who was just killed. A lot of the time this is used for some really great comedy. The action itself when it actually happenss is quite good, however don’t expect the amount of action in some of Neeson’s other flicks like Taken.

Cold Pursuit isn’t anything special but it’s a fun movie. Liam Neeson and the cast worked well (although Laura Dern and Emmy Rossum weren’t given the best things to work with), and the writing and overall direction made it work as a dark comedy. It’s definitely not a conventional Neeson thriller and despite its issues, I’d say that it’s worth a watch.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult Themes
Cast
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot
Tom Bateman as Bouc
Penélope Cruz as Pilar Estravados
Willem Dafoe as Gerhard
Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff
Johnny Depp as Samuel Ratchett
Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen
Derek Jacobi as Edward Henry Masterman
Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot
Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard
Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham
Marwan Kenzari as Pierre Michel
Olivia Colman as Hildegarde Schmidt
Director: Kenneth Branagh

A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. Everyone’s a suspect when Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again.

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I was curious about Murder on the Orient Express, I had never read the original book or watched any adaptations. It was the cast and crew involved that had me interested, especially with Kenneth Branagh directing and starring. As someone who hasn’t seen any version of the story beforehand, I ended up thoroughly enjoyed Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. The performances (particularly from Kenneth Branagh) and the direction really make this movie. It does have some issues (particularly with its characters) but its good elements far outweigh the weaker elements overall.

I can’t comment on any similarities and differences between this and the original book or other adaptations, so I’ll just treat it as its own thing. It’s not a flashy typical Hollywood whodunit, it is slower paced and feels restrained. I can see a lot of people getting bored of this movie so if you’re going to see it just know that it is very slow paced. The pacing didn’t bother me personally, it felt just right. I was quite intrigued throughout the whole movie, my attention didn’t waver once. This movie has a surprisingly amount of effective humour, especially from Branagh’s Poirot. One issue that I had is that there is so much going on that at times it is hard to follow. At the end, even though I understood most of what happened, I had to look up the plot to clarify certain things. You have to be paying close attention or you could miss details, I know because I was paying attention and I didn’t pick up all of it. The second problem and probably the biggest problem is the handling of the supporting characters. The supporting characters aren’t developed or fleshed out that well. You might be able to remember some aspect about them (like in terms of the actor or the character’s job) but that’s about it. So when names are being thrown all about by Poirot as he theorises what happened, it’s a little jarring and at times hard to follow what’s going on. Its hard to remember these supporting characters, I can barely remember any of the supporting characters’ names, save for a couple.

This movie has a lot of A list actors but the true star of this movie is Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. He is a little over the top but it works, Hercule is a quirky and likable character and its basically worth watching the movie for this performance alone. Also he manages to sell that over the top handlebar moustache. We have a large and talented supporting cast with Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., Johnny Depp and others. For many of those who have had long careers like Judi Dench and Willem Dafoe, their performances here aren’t going to rank up as one of their best but they play their part well, in fact everyone plays their parts rather well. A stand out to me was Josh Gad, who surprised me, he’s usually known for comedic roles in movies like Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. But here he proves that he is really good in a dramatic role. Even Johnny Depp was good, granted his performance was one of the weaker performances and he doesn’t have a massive amount of screentime. As I said, the actors played their roles well, it’s just that the characters really weren’t that fleshed out that well aside from Hercule. I have no issues about the acting however.

Kenneth Branagh directs the film very well. The cinematography is truly great, it’s beautiful looking. The long takes also help show just how big of scale everything is. It makes use of its locations very well. The editing also was top notch and worked well, especially in the scenes where Poirot is piecing together what happened.

I’m not sure how much you’ll like 2017 Murder on the Orient Express. I think you will at the very least appreciate and enjoy Kenneth Branagh’s performance and his direction. Personally, I really liked it, with the acting (especially from Kenneth Branagh) and the direction and the plot which is mostly done well. There are some aspects that didn’t quite work in terms of some of the characters but for the most part this movie does everything right. Branagh has mentioned that he was interested in doing more films with the character of Poirot and I am completely on board for that. I’d love to see him make a return.