film

Review: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Written by Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram and directed by Ritchie, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” is a genre throwback to the bygone Bond era of spy films- to a time when characters like Bond made the most sense, the height of the Cold War. However this film, based on the popular television show of the same name airing in the 1960’s, has a twist on the suave American spy trope, pairing Henry Cavill’s C.I.A. agent Napoleon Solo with Armie Hammer’s Russian KGB muscle Illya Kuryakin to stop a threat greater than they pose to each other. Which is, of course, Nazis.

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The plot is simple enough, former Nazi scientists were not only scooped up by American intelligence after the war, but also by more sinister forces that seek an atomic bomb and the plans to create thousands more. This puts iron curtain enemies like the CIA and the KGB into a prickly situation, working together to thwart a greater evil for the greater good. The movie unfolds with a great opening action set-piece that showcases both Armie Hammer’s Illya and Cavill’s Solo quite well while providing a snappy sense of movement, Guy Ritchie’s sense of style shines in this scene and others like it later on. Which brings us to the potential negatives of the film. The characters and the plot are fairly serviceable but they don’t outright stun or awe. The performances, not to forget Alicia Vikander’s charming role as Gabby Teller the mechanic in West Berlin who gets wrapped up in these international spy-games, and the style of the direction are what makes this movie work. Particularly entertaining is the chemistry between the two leads Hammer and Cavill, if they had more time to flesh out the characters that they inhabit here these two could become more than they are, but I had fun with what we did get.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

I suppose it all depends on your level of expectation going into a film like this. I was looking for an entertaining spy genre flick. One with action, humor, thrills, maybe even a bit of wit and charm thrown in for good measure and for the most part, that’s what I got. This film worked for me. I’d even be ready to throw down some cold hard cash to see a sequel if another one came along. Who knows if that will happen, but I would gladly welcome another adventure with these characters.

Final Score: 2 spies, a couple nazis, and 1 atomic bomb

film

Review: Free Fire, “Slapstick gunplay meets Reservoir Dogs’ style genre flick”

A24 is the new studio to beat lately. With plenty of oddball flicks like “Swiss Army Man” and “Spring Breakers” or genre infused flicks like “Under the Skin”, “Slow West”, “Green Room” “The Lobster” and ‘Ex-Machina”-they’ve always made curiously unique choices when choosing the films that would fall under their umbrella. They also happened to work with the recent underdog best picture winner “Moonlight”. So with that repertoire behind their filmography I went into “Free Fire” expecting to find another unique flick.

“Free Fire” is a one location story about an arms deal gone wrong in an abandoned warehouse, in 1978 Boston. The wrong guns are brought to the deal, and plenty of high strung emotions as well. Tempers flare when enemies recognize each other and all sense gets thrown out the window. Cillian Murphy leads a band of IRA (Irish Republican Army) members and hired help to purchase a heap of guns, while Sharlto Copley heads a coy operation of arms dealers looking to sell. In between the group mechanics, the side characters emerge loudly and with gusto. This movie is essentially all second act, which clips by at a swift hour and thirty minutes. The tension is kept alive as the characters get clipped by bullets, writhe in the dirt and broken glass of the warehouse floor, and crawl about looking for potential enemies and blindly shooting with the crack shot skill of a storm trooper in a looney-tunes cartoon. Combining slapstick gunplay humor with murderous intent and Tarantino-esque handling of dialogue, “Free Fire” aims to be a bloody good time at the theater.

The best part about this genre flick is the cast. Sharlto Copley and Armie Hammer, as Vernon and Ord respectively, steal every scene that they’re in. Brie Larson also pulls a gem of a performance out of “Justine”, the intermediary of the deal. All of the smaller characters that impact the story, like Jack Reynor’s Harry or Sam Riley’s Stevo, are boisterous and big in nature as well, cackling above the crackle of gunfire amidst the chaos. Michael Smiley’s Frank and Babou Ceesay’s Martin also play integral roles even though they may be the quieter parts of the whole.

“Free Fire” wasn’t pretending to be more than what it presented itself as, and that’s part of what made it so damn fun. I enjoyed my time with it, and if you give it a look, I think you might too!

Final Score: 7000 bullets (How many they used in making the film! Check out link below)

Brie Larson and Armie Hammer’s ‘Free Fire’ used 7,000 bullets during production

“Free Fire” is rated R and opened for wide release in the US on 4/21/17