“It’s Quite The Fairytale You Got Going On Here. From Top Flight Model In Moscow To Rubbing Shoulders With The Elite…”
After successfully managing to hit the grand old age of sixty, French filmmaker, Luc Besson, seems to have become slightly nostalgic in his old age as he returns to the type of feminine-led action flick which made him renowned across the world at the beginning of his career during the early 1990’s. With Besson sort of losing the plot in recent years with the simply awful, Lucy, and the woefully titled, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a film which begins equally as bad but then grew into some sort of guilty pleasure come the final credits, the Frenchman returns to the subject matter he knows best in the form of Anna, a clear modern-day incarnation of Besson’s own 1990 action piece, Nikita, and a movie which sees the relatively unknown Sasha Luss as the titular beauty who shifts from street-living junkie to globe-trotting deadly assassin within the confines of a screenplay which is as aggravating as it is enjoyably ludicrous.
With a narrative structure which jumps back and forth through different time zones more often than Back to the Future, Besson’s movie does begin in interesting fashion, with the opening hour utilising a particularly glossy sheen of smoke and mirrors as it introduces Luss’ titular leading heroine, a top KGB assassin working under the wing of Helen Mirren’s creaky, nicotine loving Olga, as she works her way through a number of high profile assassinations. As the movie soldiers on in a semi-effective, genre-literate fashion, the introduction of both the dodgy accented Luke Evans and cheekbone enthusiast, Cillian Murphy, as opposing geographical ends of a conflicted love triangle is where the film ultimately shows its’ rather annoying hand, utilising flashback after flashback in order to highlight just how clever Besson thinks he is. On the contrary, such diversions from what should be a generic, B-movie storyline ultimately makes it more aggravating the more it goes on, and even with an abundance of decent, John Wick inspired action set pieces, Anna is at least better than similar movies of recent years including Red Sparrow and Atomic Blonde, but too a movie which lacks that sense of cult-heavy wackiness which the early Besson movies stored in abundance.
Overall Score: 6/10
“It’s Our Mission That Doesn’t Make Sense, Sir…”
With French filmmaker Luc Besson not succeeding in making a decent movie since the 1990’s when it comes to directing, the array of fingers which he has managed to stick into a wide range of cinematic pies including The Transporter and Taken series, means that particular film companies still feel the need to finance certain projects which stem from the mind of a man who continues to live off the success of his earlier and much more impressive bodies of work, of which Nikita and Léon still remain the standout features. With his latest release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets this week, aside from having arguably the most arduous and stupidest film title in recent memory, Besson’s return to science fiction brings with it a relative amount of caution, particularly when the finished product could either be the silly, blockbuster fun of The Fifth Element or the idiotic, laziness of a film such as Lucy, and whilst there is no doubting that Valerian is filled to the rafters with a mountain of issues and quandaries, Besson’s latest is the type of movie which you begin to hate from the outset but then slowly edge through acceptance, excitement and enjoyment as the film reaches its’ long-awaited conclusion. Valerian is stupid, nonsensical and completely bonkers, but boy, I didn’t half enjoy it.
Although the screenplay is primarily based upon the French science fiction comic series, Valérian and Laureline, there is no doubting the visual splendour of the film takes cues from a wide variety of movies from fantasy cinematic history, and whilst it comes across as lazy to simply paint Valerian as a Star Wars rip-off, the sandy plains of the opening act and the introduction of characters that so clearly resemble famous faces from a galaxy far, far away is strikingly undeniable, even when the film effectively manages to be designed in such a superbly crafted fashion it’s impossible to not applaud the creative process behind it. With the visuals so flashy and impressively detailed, the cheddar-cheese dialogue and questionable acting does manage to be somewhat overlooked, even when Cara Delevingne manages to act almost everyone off the screen including leading co-star Dane DeHaan whose montone affinity results in him coming across as a next-generation Keanu Reeves cast-off, and with a narrative as bonkers and fundamentally confusing as the one at the centre of it, Valerian is that rare case of a movie being so wrong it’s right, and whilst I may be in the minority when the dust eventually settles, Besson’s latest isn’t a masterpiece by any measure, it’s just ridiculous, braindead fun.
Overall Score: 6/10
Let’s be honest, what do we really expect from a Liam Neeson movie? The answer is – Not much, not much at all. We also know his acting range which is rather short. Movies like Luc Besson’s ‘Taken’ demonstrate the exact character archetype and cast-typing that goes through every writers mind when they write a mid-level thriller on a budget. Although the Taken series is very beloved by myself. Mindless, simple and to the point action that is only a little exaggerated by the fact Neeson isn’t getting any younger and no emotional ties needed to connect to a rather cool frontman.
Walk Among the Tombstones is something a little different. Evidently the writers have tried to create something very difficult and provoking but in reality have created something extremely basic. With an intention to create something convoluted, the aim is to make it difficult to understand and to leave you dazed as you try to figure the mystery yourself before the puzzle pieces are fitted finally by the story. Any aspect of thriller was drilled out by the fact that there was no mystery. Nothing solid enough to bite into as everything is already being shown. Even in the trailers we know the back story of Neeson’s character ‘Matt Scudder’ before the movie even came out. Other than that, we hear about it towards the end rather than fairly early on if it mattered so little. The reality of Among the Tombstones is that we have a cop drama with very little drama and action. As an unlicensed PI, Scudder is called upon to investigate the rape, black mailing, murder and dismemberment of Kenny Kristo’s (Dan Stevens) wife. It soon becomes clear that these guys work over women of particularly dangerous men who are traffickers of illicit drugs. Their connection to the drug industry means that police contact will only end with them in jail. Forced to pay the ransom, the women never return and the money disappears. This time, its caught the attention of Neeson who takes it upon himself to end it, once and for all. See, not very elaborate…
So we’ve spoken out Neeson’s acting degree and its short tether. Now we must look at the rest of the gang. Eric Nelsen plays the character who originally introduces Scudder to Kristo. A troubled artist who left the army with a heroin addiction. With that sort of premise, his character could have been something intricately deep but he just sits in the background with a lit cigarette and little chance to flourish. As for Nelsen’s acting, it was rather bland. Simple and easy. Certainly not worthy of an Oscar and not worth loosing any sleep over when you forget his name. Dan Stevens is a man who has only recently popped onto my radar with The Guest released in recent week. With experience in Downton Abbey I feel its safe to say that he is a fairly solid actor. Although his lines weren’t great, he is convincing enough to make you feel sympathy for his character but once again he was let down by a rather disappointing script. As for our villains, don’t expect anything good. For a pair who have some ghastly scenes that managed to make me recoil into my shell, they had the worst directing ever. There is a significant difference between acting dark and psychotic and just plain nothing. There was nothing remotely scary about this pair, one of which does very little talking and looks like he’s continuously got a crowbar wedged up his arse. So bad that I won’t even grace their IMDB’s on this page. Or that I’m too lazy.
Is it worth a night out to see? Sure…A Wednesday with EE/Orange 2 for 1. A fairly dull movie with little to engage or excite. Action that is practically non-existent with a rather annoying child that appears throughout. 6/10.
Created by the undeveloped mind of Luc Besson, Lucy appears on-screen. Sure, The Taken series is pretty cool. Terribly acted and the most generic storyline known to man repeated 3 times for money rather than filmmaking is the problem with it. Straight off the bat I was ready to tear into this wannabe Limitless. Unimpressed by the fact that they base the whole movie on the myth that we only use 10% of our brains (Busted by our favourite Mythbusters) and if we use higher percentages than that, we gain super powers. Unlocked by a synthetic drug, Scarlett Johansson is now super women. Granted super intelligence and ability to see “data waves” she can manipulate the world around her. Upon unlocking more of her mind, she gains more powers to manipulate the world around her. This whole idea is utter rubbish. I like sci-fi movies and super hero movies but this is ludicrous. It tries too hard to legitimise itself making it incredibly convoluted and the most boring piece of shite I’ve watched for many years.
There really is no plot to actually write about except that she wonders about using her powers to get the rest of the drugs. If she was so fucking smart, it would have ended 20 minutes sooner and we wouldn’t have had to go through one of the worst action scenes I’ve ever seen. Had the movie actually thought about what it was actually getting at, the outcome could have been plausible and engaging. So with no real story, what is left? How about acting? Yeah, um…
Scarlett, I love you with Marvel as Black Widow but this is just awful. As a character who is supposed to be emotionless (but somehow still has emotions…) your voice is as if you’ve given up on life (I don’t blame you with this script) and its excruciating to listen to. The scenes where you have emotions are so poorly acted, its as if you’ve never acted a day in your life and combined with the overall fuckery, it truly is a disgrace to watch such a star perform so poorly. I cannot stress this enough, if you’re going to use action, it needs to be fun, if you want to create something that uses sci-fi elements and A-list actors, you’re going to want to write a decent storyline and make sure they can act it! The acting isn’t just down to the main stars, the rest of the crew were just as bad. One particular Korean guy stands as the worst person I’ve ever seen on screen. You’ve probably seen him with the rocket launching sliding on his knees like he’s on stage with Motley Crue in the 80’s – awful hairstyle included.
I’m not doing a quicky review simply because I have other things to do or that I really cannot be bothered, this time, I’m so shocked as how bad this movie is, I really don’t know what to write. I would say that they were simply using both Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson as crowd pleasers but the reality is that this will never work for this movie. I’m surprised it has the rating it does from the critics. To me, this movie wouldn’t even stand up as Sci-fi. Its poor quality and overly convoluted direction would turn Syfy pale if it was to ever appear on their channel. I wouldn’t bother wasting your money on this and suggest you experience something a lot more fun, perhaps Limitless or a drill bit to your testies. 5/10 for this one – Sorry Scarlett…