“We Got Multiple Explosions. We Need Help Down Here..!”
Of the many cinematic pleasures within 2016, Peter Berg’s Deepwater Horizon was a surprisingly entertaining thrill-ride, utilising the on-screen likeability of Mark Wahlberg to helm a dramatisation of one of the 21st centuries’ most infamous accidental disasters in a vein both poignant and wholly respectful. Whilst the one-two pairing of Wahlberg and Peter Berg shared mild success previously with Lone Survivor, the release of Deepwater Horizon last year has ultimately pushed the duo into a formidable partnership, returning this year with yet another live-action adaptation of a high-profile disaster in the form of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, a recent example of terrorism action within the United States. With a supporting cast featuring the likes of Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons and John Goodman, Patriots Day is a thrilling continuation of the Berg’s recent cinematic success, creating a sometimes breathtaking drama which mixes white-knuckle tension, Michael Mann-esque action set pieces and an effective screenplay which amalgamates a wide range of on-screen depictions of many who were involved in the events which occurred during that terrifying day almost four years ago.
In terms of differences between the previous works of the successful duo, unlike in Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon where Wahlberg portrayed real-life characters, Patriots Day allows the Boston-born A-Lister to fill his boots with a strictly composite character, created to not only fill certain narrative gaps throughout the movie, but also act as the walking cinematic guide for the audience, seemingly being wherever the high-octane events take place as often and as quickly as possible. Whilst the film uses its’ leading stars to a somewhat solid degree, the frighteningly startling and wholly believable pairing of Alex Wolff and Themo Melikidze as terrorist brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev are the real stars of the show, using their intimidating capabilities to create one of the tensest scenes of the year so far in which they carjack and threaten to kill the life of a Chinese U.S national in a manner similar to feel and tone of a similarly haunting scene within last year’s Nocturnal Animals. Concluding with interviews with the true survivors and heroes of Boston, Patriots Day follows in a similar vein to Deepwater Horizon by not only being a entertaining body of work but by being one which is entirely respectful too.
Overall Score: 8/10
Within the space of the past two weeks or so, the gods of cinema declared it within out interest to allow Adam Sandler to release not one, but two films in which he takes leading roles. If you saw my review of the awfully dull The Cobbler last week, you would have seen that Sandler’s first attempt at some sort of cinematic redemption flopped entirely yet the much more publicised release of this weeks’ Pixels seemed always to be the one in which Sandler was set to be at least slightly praised for. What can be said about the Christoper Columbus directed Pixels then? Is it any good? Not really. Is it terrible? Not at all. Does it feature Adam Sandler as a burned out low-life with no sense of future or accomplishment who somehow ends up with the gorgeous supporting actress through a wacky turn of events? Of course. Sandler territory here we are.
Years after a space probe featuring classic arcade games from the early 1980’s is sent into space, weaponised versions of such games declare war on Earth, much to the horror of President Cooper (Kevin James) who enlists the help of childhood friend Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) and Ludlow Lamonsoff (Josh Gad) to use their expert knowledge on arcade games to defeat the evil presence that has engulfed their planet. Sound cool right? And to be fair to Pixels, its’ well designed CGI and willingness to go full retro does play the cool card every time said arcade games are brought to life on-screen, but is ultimately let down by a farcical and cliched script, cringe-worthy acting, particularly, and strangely, from Dinklage of all people, and an adolescent desire to retire to age-old jokes about women and sex. Typical Sandler territory then. Although it may not be as mind-numbingly boring as The Cobbler, Pixels ultimately fails at bringing a rather cool premise to fruition and instead only accomplishes in being another cog on the wheel of Sandler’s embarrassing filmography.