Monday, 30 January 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: SPLIT


7/10

Three school girls are kidnapped on the way back from a birthday party, but their kidnapper is no ordinary psycho. 23 three personalities live in his head. Some of them want to hurt the girls, the others want to protect them. But all of them are waiting for the coming of The Beast - a hidden identity  that will forever change the understanding of multiple personality disorder.

Thriller lovers will find the premise of SPLIT familiar. What sets this film apart is one great performance from James McAvoy, who portrays the many faces of an MPD sufferer  with great timing and authenticity. This is great material to work with and McAvoy gives it his everything. No CGI required for his incredible transformations and this one performance is something to talk about.

His younger co-star Anya Taylor-Joy as the brooding Casey, one of the kidnapped girls who has guts and a secret of her own,  proves that a damsel in distress can be an interesting character. Her role is multilayered and well written. Her troubled childhood comes in flashbacks, that tell a story far more distressing then the one we are focused on.

Parallel to the abduction plot, there's a storyline of the relationship between the patient and the Doctor, A psychiatrist played by Betty Buckley (of CARRIE fame) who gives a sympathetic and sincere performance. She is incredibly likeable and probably the only character you don't want to get killed in the end.

The film establishes the atmosphere of a family thriller, only to shatter it all in the third act, which is nerve-wracking and genuinely unsettling. With its simplicity plot-wise SPLIT manages to deliver on suspense perfectly. You might have seen it all before but you will be biting your knuckles all the same. M Night Shyamalan knows how to scare and surprise. He made a career of it and it seems to be taking a second breath.


SPLIT could have been a perfect thriller if not for a disappointing ending. A weak finale is a problem for many thrillers, and while SPLIT is trying it's best to wrap up all the loose ends it does not deliver anything exciting. The battered beauty against the beast finale is only barely entertaining. The biggest twist comes after the credits. Watch out for a fun cameo from a classic Shyamalan film. Is he trying to establish his own franchise? That remains to be seen.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: LION


5/10


It seemed that the difficult childhood of a little Indian boy called Saroo had a happy ending. Adopted by a caring couple from Australia he had everything a child could wish for - a loving family, a proper education and incredible opportunities. But the past still haunts him. The only way to carry on is to find his real family. Will it help to reunite his present self with his old past? Or will it divide him?

Let's get it out of the way now - the main character of LION is a spoilt little brat. This naked truth is carefully masked by many tear jerking moments. Apparently bad things in one's childhood can excuse anything you put others through.

When his past calls out to him, Saroo quits his job, dumps his girlfriend, abuses his brother and abandons his adoptive parents. Then he is sulking in his million dollar ocean view home and is searching for his mommy  on his thousand dollar laptop. How terrible for him!

If you thought that LION will take you on exciting journey through India while Saroo is looking for his family - you are wrong! When the lengthy prologue is out of the way we barely leave Australia, getting endless flashbacks as we follow Saroo wandering the picturesque locations of Tasmania, until the search comes to a sudden and rather disappointing resolution. In one word - anticlimax.

On the bright side, the first thirty minutes or so, which tells Saroo's origin story, are rather entertaining. There's no denying that LION is superbly acted, Dev Patel delivers a perfect Australian accent and there's no doubt he perfectly embodies the emotions and the conflict of his character. A fabulous performance to the bone.

Nicole Kidman showcases her acting skills in the limited screen time she has, but Rooney Mara (my favourite) finds herself at a loss in a role that has given her nothing to work with. She is a real waste and I cannot understand why she accepted the role. Any new comer would have been be ok for that part.

It is a real art to mask the storytelling gaps with such exquisite visuals. LION's cinematographer Greig Fraser (his latest achievement being ROGUE ONE: STAR WARS STORY), does it in spectacular fashion.

Aussie director Garth Davis relies too much on the spectacle (so does Michael Bay), but he manages to get the best possible emotions out of his near perfect cast. I will be looking forward to what he does next.

LION is a competently shot and well acted movie, but struggles with the pacing. It is also as predictable as your next ABC episode of Australian Story. You have seen it a thousand times before. But if you perceived it as something new, LION has accomplished its task.

Monday, 2 January 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: THE ACCOUNTANT


 
7/10

Christian Wolf (Ben Affleck) is an accountant, but of a special kind. He works for some dangerous people, laundering their money. People in his field of work have a pretty short lifespan, so it is a mystery how Christian has managed to survive for so long? 

His means of survival is put to test when he takes on the first legitimate job in a while – to find the missing 60 million dollars of a large electronic company. Working together with an awkward fellow accountant he uncovers the mistake… only setting himself up for a trap. Now he has to face an enemy more dangerous than any of his former dodgy clients, and the true identity of his adversary may just be his undoing.

Christian Wolf is an interesting character. He is suffering from a form of autism, but is extremely successful at what he does. He’s got a mysterious assistant “an English lady” whose identity is hidden, until the very end, and he collects fine art, which he exhibits in a trailer, full of gun ammunition. He is also martial arts expert. His quirky personality is nailed by Ben Affleck’s performance, it is much more interesting that his Batman impersonation of the past year.

THE ACCOUNTANT is a surprise, having earned 140 million against a 44 million budget. There’ll definitely be a sequel. 

THE ACCOUNTANT is less concerned with the action than character building. The story is rather simple, but it is both a strong point and a weak point of the film. Weak, because the twists are clich├ęd and you will see the ending coming miles away. Good, because the time is spent on character development and we manage to squeeze in multiple side stories, including Christian’s growing up, flashbacks to his childhood (that are never boring), and a side plot about detectives chasing him (for some unusual reasons). 

The film’s strongest point is its supporting cast, that includes J.K Simmons (the teacher from Whiplash), John Lithgow (Churchill from THE CROWN) and Jon Bernthal (Walking Dead Season 1+2). All in all, THE ACCOUNTANT looks like a set up movie for a much larger story. It also has a feel of something based on a book, because of its detailed set up. Now that the premise is established the second film with a more original plot could be a real treat. Fingers crossed!