Neil Fox on film (22.09.11)
The truth behind this ‘true story’ may be questionable, but what is not is the sheer unadulterated action pleasure on offer.
As you’d expect from a film with that title, starring Jason Statham, subtlety is not on the menu.
Statham plays a special forces agent who comes out of retirement when his mentor Robert De Niro is kidnapped by a gang led by Clive Owen.
The rescue is just the start as the pair start out on a globe-spanning quest to find out who set them up and bring them to justice.
So it’s a buddy movie, a full throttle action pic and surprising as it’s not the sort of film we are used to seeing De Niro and Owen showing up in.
But that adds to the enjoyment as they grapple with the lack of dimension in their characters.
It’s utterly disposable but the time spent with it never feels wasted.
Where Killer Elite is fun but obvious, the latest from Nicolas Winding Refn is a masterful, cool, exciting, vibrant and jaw-dropping piece of pulp cinema.
The brilliant Ryan Gosling is a movie stunt driver who moonlights as a robbery getaway driver.
He gets involved with a girl (Carey Mulligan) and her ex-con, exish-husband and in a heist that goes as wrong as it possibly could.
It’s a supremely violent film, but never gratuitously, as Refn is a director fascinated by violence and masculinity and the combustion the two cause when they meet.
He directed the brilliant Bronson, about the Luton-born jailbird, dubbed Britain’s most violent criminal, and Valhalla Rising among others.
The film is a B-movie and arthouse movie par excellence that is gripping, exciting, loud and lurid and exhilarating.
Expect to see it at the top of the ‘best of’ lists by those people who know their cinema.
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Ryan Gosling also shows up in this romantic comedy, albeit in far less intense and violent shape as part of a great cast headed up by Steve Carell and Julianne Moore.
They play a couple going through a divorce after 20 years of marriage and Gosling is the bachelor friend helping helping Carell get over a shock he didn’t see coming.
Like Drive it’s a classic formula but through care and effort in the comedic and the dramatic areas manages to create a film that is entertaining and memorable, which for a mainstream, contemporary rom com is all too rare nowadays.
The third of a series of films that is more than the familiarity of their storylines is really engaging sports movie set in the world of mixed martial arts fighting.
Tom Hardy and Joel Edgetron are estranged brothers having parallel ascents through the sport.
Their estrangement is in part to their drunken father, played by Nick Nolte, who ends up training Hardy as he climbs to the top of the rankings.
The film succeeds through heart, great performances and some stunning fight footage. It’s a great, classic sports tale, doing exactly what it says on the tin.