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Cold Pursuit review : Visually stunning, action-packed and addictive!

See Liam Neeson seek revenge for his son’s death

K.T Simpson

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Director:

Hans Petter Moland

Cast:

Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, Julia Jones, John Doman, Laura Dern

Run time:

118 mins

Rating:

“I will find you, and I will kill you…” Oh wait, that’s the wrong movie. But it’s what we’re all thinking right? “Cold Pursuit” = “Taken” in the snow. Well, you’d be wrong. The movie starts with Nels Coxman’s (Liam Neeson) son dying from a supposed drug overdose, but of course Coxman senses something greater than that and vows revenge on the responsible parties. Apart from the missing/soon-found-dead son, “Cold Pursuit” bears little resemblance to “Taken”, except the Liam Neeson factor of course – but that’s unfortunately where Neeson has found himself after 3 of the damn movies.

Fun fact, “Cold Pursuit” is actually a remake of the 2014 Norwegian vigilante film “In Order of Disappearance”, which starred Stellan Skarsgård – both of which are directed by Hans Petter Moland. It’s not often that a director would remake his own film, but Moland has done himself a favour, putting “Cold Pursuit” into the hands of more people, in that the remake is now in the English language.

After his son’s death, Coxman and wife Grace (Laura Dern) struggle to hold together their marriage, as all of Nels’ focus is on revenge – and that’s about it. His pursuit leads him down a path of dodgy drug dealers, immense nicknames, turf wars and an enterprise led by Viking – aka Trevor Calcote (Tom Bateman), whose focus is not only on running his business, but also looking after his son – co-parented with ex-wife Aya (Julia Jones).

The local feds get involved in the investigation, led by Kim Dash (Emmy Rossum), and seem to always be a step behind Coxman in the pursuit for truth. As you would be – it’s Liam effing Neeson, people.

What follows is a trail of death, as key players get taken out one by one, with a handy death chart popping up every time someone loses their life. Amongst the blood, violence, and flying teeth is a healthy dose of humour, which you’d probably describe as black humour, as you may find yourself feeling a tad awkward about laughing. Having said that, just enjoy the ride, and the clever narratives that will keep you well and truly hooked. Not to mention the incredible cinematography (kudos to Philip Øgaard) – set in Alaska, “Cold Pursuit” will inject some reality into you as to how it would actually be to live in a town that sees no nighttime and requires daily snow-plowing just to commute.

In the realm of black-comedy-action films, this is one I found incredibly easy to follow – and that’s saying something for me, who annoys people around me with questions like “wait, who is he again?”, and “isn’t that the guy that was shot at the start?”. Consequently, “Cold Pursuit” becomes addictive, and kind of like a rabbit warren you just want to explore right until the very last hole.

The only criticism is the casting. Don’t get me wrong, each actor nails their role, with Bateman in particular my standout, but I still can’t work out why an Irish guy has an American brother (played exceptionally William Forsythe). Of course it’s possible, half-siblings, step-siblings, blah blah blah but still seemed weird to me.

Given that February is typically the dumping ground for films, “Cold Pursuit” is a good one to kick off the year. See it!

Film Reviews

Aladdin review : a gorgeous family film

Check out what we thought of the live-action adaptation of the ’92 classic

K.T Simpson

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In a world of remakes, reboots and live-action adaptations, it’s pretty difficult to get excited about Disney merely turning a cartoon into a big screen production – especially with Guy Ritchie at the helm. It’s no secret that there’s been a cloud of negativity circling “Aladdin”, but put those doubts aside, because unlike Ritchie’s “King Arthur”, “Aladdin” is impressive in so many ways.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the story of Aladdin, the ‘street-rat’ living in Agrabah and stealing to survive life in the village with pet monkey Abu. The 1992 film was an instant classic and a timeless Disney tale with a particularly iconic performance from Robin Williams as Genie. It’s big shoes for Ritchie, who has adapted the animation into a musical fantasy film, with Will Smith as the wisecracking Genie, Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. Upon meeting Jasmine on the streets of Agrabah, Aladdin is instantly smitten and vows to win her heart, despite the castle’s highly secured walls in his way.

After Aladdin is caught by guards in the castle, Jafar, the Royal Vizier of Agrabah (Marwan Kenzari) promises to set Aladdin free if he retrieves a lamp from the Cave of Wonders. Of course the plan fails and Aladdin and Apu are trapped underground with the Magic Carpet, the lamp – and the Genie that emerges from the lamp, who then promises Aladdin 3 wishes.

The beauty in Ritchie’s “Aladdin” is firmly in the cinematography and big screen production, creating a gorgeous visual of Aladdin’s world and everyone within it. The songs hit all the high notes – excuse the pun – and Scott as Princess Jasmine is the particular standout. Her performance of “Speechless” is the next “Let it Go”, and will give you goosebumps in the beautifully choreographed scene. Massoud is a great choice to play Aladdin; the handsome young actor has a charming smile that reminds us all why Jasmine feels such a connection with the boy who on paper, is not the right choice for her.

Smith as Genie is a surprise knockout, bringing his own style of humour and entertainment to the role that Williams was so famous for. Smith never tries to emulate the ’92 animated genie, but rather introduces himself as his own genre of Genie – for which we should all appreciate. His chemistry with Massoud’s Aladdin is completely on point, and the duo bring some of the biggest laughs of the film. Aladdin’s monkey Apu is a character in himself, a cute little sidekick and says a lot without saying anything – thanks to fantastic CGI.

Jafar was always such a menacing and terrifying villain, and the hunger of his desire to be the most powerful in Agrabah is quite obvious throughout the film. He has the ability to be innocently charming, while plotting domination underneath – the mark of a true villain.

“Aladdin” truly kicks the goals of an incredible family film – it looks gorgeous, the performances are incredible and the narrative is truly heartwarming and enjoyable. Add in a healthy dose of humour and you’ve got yourself one of the most memorable films of the year.

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Film Reviews

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum review : one hell of a wild ride!

John Wick is back with a vengeance in Parabellum

K.T Simpson

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If there’s one thing we know for sure, entering the third chapter of the “John Wick” franchise, it’s that Wick wants to live. We’ve had two films preceding “Parabellum”, both showing that Wick is a man that just never gives up on his quest for revenge, and no matter how good he looks in a suit – he’s not a man you can mess with.

“John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” picks up directly after “Chapter 2”, where Wick (Reeves), and his dog in tow, is running for his life with 1 hour until he’s declared excommunicado, following him breaking the rules and killing High Table member Santino D’Antonio on the grounds of the Continental Hotel. The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon), a representative of the High Table, is on the quest to punish those who helped Wick, including Winston (Ian McShane), the manager of the Continental Hotel, and crime lord Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), who has quite an incredible army of pigeons.

With a $14 million bounty on his head, John Wick is out to survive, and take no mercy on those who dare to fight him. Despite watching their peers get brutally and savagely beaten and murdered around them, they keep going after Wick – presumably thinking that they can be the one to knock him off the perch and go home with a fatter wallet. Meanwhile, Wick seeks out allies from the past, despite their reluctance to help him, in an effort to survive – for reasons we soon find out – and remove the bounty from his head.

The action sequences, while impressive, tend to play out a little like a live-action Call of Duty battle scene after a while, probably lasting a little too long and implementing all those clichés the game-lovers will recognize: enemies descending on you from all angles, setting the dogs to rip-tear-bust, and throwing smoke grenades into empty rooms. It’s slightly reminiscent of “The Matrix” in that action scenes tend to drag and are a little bit of an overkill. That said, the action is addictive as hell and pretty bloody gruesome. Safe to say, “Parabellum” is not for the feint-hearted. If you’re squeamish about knives penetrating an entire human head, this may not be the film for you.

There’s something insanely awkward about the way Keanu Reeves walks – if a little pigeon toed – but still manages to effortlessly defend and attack in awesome style. He flicks his hair like he’s straight out of “Point Break” (or is it more “Bill and Ted”?), but John Wick has a style about him we all just want to imitate – perhaps it’s the way he fights round the world and never takes off his suit and tie. Respect for that kind of commitment, straight up.

As action films go, you’ll get more than your money’s worth with “Parabellum”. It’s a really well done action flick and incredibly directed by Chad Stahelski – his strengths clearly lie in the action choreograph arena. Mark Dacascos as Zero, the head assassin is a true stand out in “Parabellum”, providing some humour amongst the blood, guts and fighting. Fishburne also impresses as the underground crime lord, with his alliances more aligned with his pigeon friends than the people around him.

“Parabellum” is one hell of a wild ride – and one you won’t want to miss on the big screen for the visual (and audio) spectacle you’re about to experience. It’s a completely bonkers and good-time entertaining film, and without a doubt one of the standout feature films in 2019.

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Film Reviews

The Hustle review : uninspiring and unfunny

Bit of a waste of a remake, really

K.T Simpson

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Every now and then, a remake gets made and it kicks all the goals, delivering a fresh take of humour and clever dialogue. This isn’t that movie. It’s hard to understand why Hollywood are mixing up old films, but I imagine the only answer comes in the form of a pay day.

When you’ve got a classic film like “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” with a top cast of Steve Martin and Michael Caine – it begs the question: why bother remaking it? The typical Hollywood twist comes in the gender switch, but apart from that this film is a straight-up copy-and-paste of the 1988 comedy. With a few millennial and female-centric jokes thrown in instead, of course.

Rebel Wilson and Anne Hathaway are the two main ladies in “The Hustle”, as they scam and thieve their way through the wallets of their chosen victims – and engage in a bit of a turf war when Lonnie (Wilson) encroaches upon France, which happens to be Josephine’s (Hathaway) home town (yes, French accent and all). The ladies set their sights on an American app-developer Thomas (Alex Sharp), and decide to attempt to rob him in their own unique way, making it a wager between the two.

Also confusing, and somewhat vexing, is the tagline used for this film. “Giving dirty rotten men a run for their money” – it’s interesting when literally none of the victims they target could be considered “dirty rotten”. They’re just people going about their lives. Lonnie’s whole game has to do with being rejected…. for catfishing….which she seems to find unfair and tell-all about men these days. I’m sorry, scriptwriters, but this makes no sense.

Wilson is really what “The Hustle” is using for the humourous quips, which unfortunately relies heavily (pun not intended) on fat jokes – I lost count after about 10 of them. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the funny bits – and even those are fairly stock-standard slapstick jokes, which worked better with Steve Martin.

On a whole, “The Hustle” is uninspiring, unfunny and just plain boring. The only thing going for it is a reasonable run time, giving you enough time to fit in a stiff drink following so you can forget it and get a good sleep. Having said that, “The Hustle” is completely forgettable, so don’t stress about lying awake thinking about it all night.

So what’s good about it? Look, you may get a few chuckles out of Wilson. Hathaway wears too much makeup and it’s a little bit distracting, and as a result isn’t as funny. But if you want a great heist film, with twists and turns and genuine humour – watch “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” instead.

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