John Wick: Chapter 2 shows a franchise in no danger of burning out

4 Stars (4 / 5)
He might not be exactly Shakespearean in his conception, but the character of John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is, at heart, an absurdly tragic one.

The world’s deadliest assassin, his attempt to settle down to an ordinary life is made impossible; first, by the death of his wife, and, second, by the theft of his beloved car and the murder of his dog.…

Free Fire (LFF Day 10)

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Say what you want about overvaulting cinematic ambitions – I’m looking at you, Terrence – it’s sometimes refreshing to see a talented filmmaker take on a simple concept and carry it off with flair and aplomb.

In the case of Free Fire, the latest from British auteur Ben Wheatley, the concept is this: the third-act shootout, with which any self-respecting crime thriller must surely culminate, instead kicks off less than twenty minutes in and occupies the rest of its ninety-minute run-time.…

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – why bother?

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

Every movie star should have a backup franchise — just in case.

Chris Pratt, for instance, has Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy. Tom Hanks has the Da Vinci Code series and playing heroic real-life captains in films named for them, e.g.…

Spectre summons up the ghosts of the Bond franchise to diminishing returns

3 Stars (3 / 5)

The evocatively titled Spectre, 24th installment of the Bond franchise, is a film steeped in continuity but light on originality.

While capitalizing on the back-story laid down for Daniel Craig’s super-spy in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall – the first incarnation of the character to have much by the way of continuity – it finds the time, over the course of 138 minutes – which also makes Spectre the longest film in the franchise – to riff on nearly every previous episode from the series’ 53 year history.…

Assassination makes Sergio Leone look like the soul of brevity

2.5 Stars (2.5 / 5)

 

At once an old-fashioned action-adventure of the sort Harrison Ford once felt so at home in, an elegiac historical drama with shades of Sergio Leone, and a guts-and-glory shoot ‘em up that recalls Inglourious Basterds, Choi Dong-hoon’s Assassination offers up plenty of bang for its buck.

American Ultra is the stoner-MK Ultra actioner we’ve all been waiting for (maybe)

3 Stars (3 / 5)

 

Jesse Eisenberg, ladies and gentlemen.

He wowed us as the coolly exploitative Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network and seems likely to do the same as a more intense, somewhat less omnivorous Lex Luthor in Batman V.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation doesn’t miss a beat

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Another Mission: Impossible film, another meaningless subtitle.

As the season of the super-spy commences – Man from UNCLE promises slick self-referential silliness, SPECTRE seems likely to continue the trend of Bond as dark, ambitious psychological thriller – Tom Cruise returns to the role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt, by now probably the most disavowed person in cinema history.…

Jurassic World is business as usual for the InGen Corporation

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Is there any film whose special effects conjured up such a sense of awe and wonder as Jurassic Park (apart, perhaps, from Star Wars)?

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 installment — sandwiched between Hook and Schindler’s List — effectively gave mankind their first fully-rendered look at the fearfully great lizards (or “dinosaurs”) whose existence on Planet Earth preceded ours by some 65 million years.…

Mad Max: Fury Road is THE road movie

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Though he’s now best known for his racist/anti-semitic/domestic abuse tendencies, sadly, Mel Gibson was once, lest we forget, a major international superstar.

An Oscar-winning actor-director with at least three iconic roles (including Scottish legend William Wallace in Braveheart and Lethal Weapons’ memorably unstable Martin Riggs) and more than a billion at the box office.

John Wick burns cool and bright

3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

 

Like Nicholas Cage or Christopher Walken, Keanu Reeves is a very particular type of actor, a specialised tool best used in a particular context.

Put him a role that requires emotional heft and he’s wooden; give him an accent to master or reams of dialogue, like in Dracula or Much Ado About Nothing, and he flounders.…