Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Haywire (2011) Review

Haywire, the latest action flic from director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic) sets an all star cast into disarray as the (wo)man hunt is on to track down a two-fold plot: decipher a double crossing, and a rogue black ops soldier gone, well, haywire, with her only hope of survival to kill her way out of the situation. There are obvious comparisons to Quentin Tarantino’s revenge fuelled Kill Bill, however to compare the two would be a mistake. Kill Bill is a well rounded romp on how to execute a successful and entertaining revenge plot, full of pop culture anecdotes and more cross genre action then you can shake a Hattori Hanzo samurai sword at. Haywire is not.

The movie comes a cropper from the get go as it tries too hard to be a better film than it actually is. Relative newcomer Gina Carano plays Mallory, the ousted soldier on a mission to find out who has set her up. Why isn’t really essential. As a black ops gone off the rails, she does well to play an emotionless, dull and characterless lead, though this does make it difficult to invest any interest in her or her cornrows. She’s pitted against the likes of Ewan McGregor, (who shouldn’t be knocked for trying to range his accents, but maybe should stick to the original) Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, and er, Channing Tatum, who is not bad at all, and proves he can cut it on the action stakes. With this range of actors, it’s a shame that Haywire really doesn’t deliver the chops that were expected.

The choreographed fight scenes look over thought and contrived, edited together in such a staged manner its surprising ‘ACTION’ and ‘CUT’ are not audible. Haywire bashing aside, the main drawback to this shambles is with such a wealth of talented actors and crew, it’s shocking to see the movie fall flat on so many levels. Once the credits were rolling, Soderbergh did bring to light how it should be done, and out came the Tarantino collection. For that, it was not a total waste.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) Review

Striding leaps and bounds right into their next adventure, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law frolic away like a couple of school boys in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock: A Game of Shadows, which likes to play dodge ball from the get go. If A Game of Shadows were a sibling to the first instalment, it would be the jovial, misbehaving sibling that really didn’t give a damn about impressing the parents, and wound up being the most successful out of the nest. Learning from the prodigal child, A Game of Shadows is far less clunky, the CGI more superior and less offensively obvious, whilst accepting of the type of film it should be: pure entertainment.

That’s not to say there’s no darkness to this shadowy affair, far from it, which arrives in the form of Sherlock’s only true nemesis: Moriarty played by the bearded Jared Harris. He’s the ultimate villain to Sherlock’s sanity, matching intelligence, screen presence, and their banter harks back to a fictional time when enemies were gentlemen, who knew when and where to battle, and when to politely refrain from violence through insulting wit, executed brilliantly by writers Michele and Kieran Mulroney.

Accompanying our heroes on their latest case is Sim, the freewheeling gypsy played by an underwhelming Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) who’s enrolled to help the duo foil a terrorist plot across Europe. You can’t really blame Rapace’s lack of screen presence when pitted against the now very strong bromance between Downey and Law, which has been caricatured to great effect here, but we’re not really that bothered as her character is quite incidental. Stephen Fry makes a solid appearance as Holmes’ brother Mycroft, although the film could have benefited with a little less of Fry’s...wit

This is all forgivable as the film does what we’ve come to love from a well oiled Sherlock machine with Ritchie at the helm: there’s more of Sherlock’s inner monologue when fighting with his fisty cuffs, more banter between the two leads, more chase scenes, and more of what we like in the midst of Winter-a good old yarn of a Blockbuster.