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King of Thieves

Drew Turney checks out the new crime caper starring Michael Caine

Drew Turney




James March


Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Tom Courtenay, Charlie Cox, Michael Gambon, Paul Whitehouse, Francesca Annis

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The first thing that strikes you about a film where Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtenay play criminals staging one of the biggest robberies in UK history is why it didn’t get a lot more attention. Unlike ”The Bank Job”, a similar Jason Statham vehicle back in 2008, ”King of Thieves” is out on VOD with very little splash or fanfare. One wonders if Netflix might have done it more justice, especially as it’s the next film from ”The Theory of Everything” director James Marsh.

Caine, Broadbent, Winstone and Courtenay are Brian, Terry, Danny, Kenny and Billy. As the film opens we see Brian and his beloved wife Lynne (Francesca Annis), reminiscing about their life together and making vague reference to her going to hospital the next day for something neither one of them really want to acknowledge.

Days later, at Lynne’s funeral, Brian’s crew from years back are all assembled to help their friend say goodbye, but it doesn’t stop the chatter about a potential job at London’s Hatton Garden jewellery district where a vault houses a jaw-dropping cache of jewels, cash and more. Another young contemporary Brian’s used before, Basil (Charlie Cox) has a line on the job because he works in the building and has a key that might ultimately give them access to the room once they get past some other protections.

But the movie isn’t actually about the heist itself. After some cursory scenes of the guys poring over maps, rehearsing the crackerjack timing etc, the first half deals with the job hitting a hitch over the three day weekend the crew has to execute it. Tempers fray, Brian and cohort Carl (Paul Whitehouse) ultimately walk out and mistrust and bitterness is set in motion that sets the stage for the fallout of the second half.

Where many movies about successful bank robberies deal with a tight knit crew and a sense of honour among thieves, Brian and his seventy-something friends are like a group of bitchy teenage girls – assuring the man in front of them they’re on the level and loyal, then conniving snidely about their duplicity as soon as they’re out of earshot. These men, despite knowing each other for decades, seem only too willing to double cross each other in the face of the haul that turns out to be worth potentially several hundred million – there’s even a barely veiled threat of murder at one point.

But they also have no idea the filth are onto them, several very professional and dedicated detectives looking over video footage, identifying them as suspects, shadowing them to try and hear tidbits of evidence and all the while building their case and closing in.

It’s the third film based on the true life case where four elderly but experienced robbers broke into a Hatton Garden safe deposit vault in 2015, and it’d be interesting to see the other two versions because this one is extremely hit and miss. Maybe that explains the release, the distributor realising they had a dud and dumping it.

First of all it should be acknowledged that none of the problems are with the dialogue or performances. All the elder statesmen of English film and theatre on show here can do this kind of thing standing on their heads, and they still give it all they have. The profane dialogue crackles with energy and occasionally cracks you up as they bicker like men who’ve a) really known each other all their lives and b) really are professional robbers. It’s a particular pleasure seeing Jim Broadbent play a genuine bad guy and exude a sense of violent threat, a type of role we’ve never seen him in before.

The problems seem to be entirely with the structure and editing. Ideas and arcs are presented badly, not resolved properly and a mess while executed. Just one example is that after things go so bad between all these guys, you’d think they’d be slitting each other’s throats the next time they meet, but in the final scene, there they are good-naturedly arguing like all’s suddenly forgotten.

Another is the intimation that all the loot they’ve stolen belongs to dangerous people who’ll be only to happy to commit very dark acts to the men responsible. It seems to set up the mistrust that festers between the guys, their reactions actually fear about what might be coming, but it’s mentioned once and never enters into the plot again.

At times it’s not clear enough what’s going on and how everyone feels about it, so while individual scenes are masterclasses of performance and delivery, the whole thing is a mess that needed a few more passes in the script – maybe just a clearer idea of what kind of movie it wanted to be.

DVD Reviews

Luz review : slow moving but with some very stylistic pleasures to be found

Check out Drew’s review of this supernatural horror!

Drew Turney



A young woman walks into a police station in a very slow wide shot, the camera pointed straight on in a very clinical, detached way. She approaches the reception bench where a cop is busily shuffling paperwork, turns and moves down the room to a vending machine to stare at it. Barely minutes have passed and you’re immediately sure this isn’t a horror film either from Hollywood or influenced by Hollywood styles.

The woman, Luz (Luana Velis) is a taxi driver to whom something terrible has happened earlier in the night, but before we get even an inkling of her story we move to a couple, the sultry Nora (Julia Riedler), seducing a man in a bar named Dr Rossini (Jan Bluthart) by telling him a story about the rebellious girl (Luz) she went to school with.

What you might not realise without any foreknowledge of the plot is that Nora is possessed by an evil spirit, and that her seduction of Dr Rossini is a way to transfer it to him. When she does so, Nora’s body slumps, apparently dead, and Dr Rossini goes to the police station where Luz has surrendered herself.

It turns out the spirit is in love with Luz, and will do anything to be near her. Dr Rossini is called to the police station to help them with the catatonic woman, and the demon gets its chance.

With two detectives in attendance, Rossini puts Luz under hypnosis to find out what happened to her, but none of them have any idea they’re under the instruction of something from another realm, and the session turns into a nightmare when Luz’s memories seem to be playing out in front of them, and Dr Rossini’s colleagues get increasingly fearful for their lives.

A bit like the oft-discussed hotel room scene at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the denouement seems fairly disinterested in the traditional dictates of story or narrative, writer/director Tilman Singer more interested in a visual fever dream than a plot.

The above description might be all you need to know to gauge whether you’ll respond to “Luz” or not. It’s slow moving and makes no concessions for the viewer, so some will be turned off within minutes. But if you stick with it there are some very stylistic pleasures to be found. The marketing material that accompanied the film mentions David Cronenberg, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci and whether they were Singer’s influences or not, it’s as fair a summing up as you could probably get.

Shot all in a couple of locations on scratchy 16mm film and running only a shade over an hour it has dreamlike cinematography, swinging from still and stark to smoky and back again. The action is moody and low key, and while it’s a demon possession horror movie with no laying on of crosses, spewing of pea soup or even a single jump scare, you’ll love it if you’re a fan of the kind of alt-horror that used to be popular in the pre-video nasty era.

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DVD Reviews

Disc Reviews : Mohicans, Lock Up, Prince of Thieves

Drew takes a look at some of the latest releases on the shelf

Drew Turney



Drew pours himself a glass of bubbly, pushes the pizza from its card box box and gives the DVD player something to chew on.


The Last of the Mohicans : Ultimate Edition
Owing to the presence of Daniel Day Lewis – the man so deeply into the craft of acting he does all the extreme tricks to assure the integrity of his character (staying in character throughout the shoot, etc) – and Michael Mann behind the megaphone, I expected much more from this film and was disappointed that it turned out to be little more than a period potboiler.
It’s more interesting from a historical angle as you learn about the Native American tribes who aligned themselves with the British and French armies doing battle for the colonies. Day Lewis is Hawkeye, a white man bought up by the Mohican tribe who fights alongside the British and rescues the daughters of a local officer from a bloodthirsty attack from another tribe.
As he falls predictably in love with the beautiful, headstrong and soft-spoken elder sister (Stowe), the menacing leader of the tribe who attacked is gunning for them all out of vengeance for the loss of his family in the war, tracking them relentlessly through the forests. There were a few turns in the story I couldn’t understand and the whole thing seemed melodramatic rather than just dramatic.
The newly-released ‘Ultimate Edition’ Blu-ray, from Aussie label Via Vision, features an audio commentary and a featurette but more so, two versions of the film.
Lock Up (4K)
Completely hatstand Stallone vehicle with ”Rocky” much too far behind him, already the same bland can-do, hero-for-hire in every movie.
He plays a Wrongfully Convicted Man whose innocence gives him the unique gift of being able to do anything. If there’d been a helicopter there he’d have flown it.
The Sadistic, Power Hungry Warden is Donald Sutherland, so hammy he was almost twirling a moustache and going ‘Bwa ha ha ha’.
What? You don’t know anything about the plot? Of course you do. If you recognise the above archetypes or you’ve ever seen Fortress, Cool Hand Luke or a million other prison breakout movies then trust me, you know the plot.
Apparently based on a true story, and produced by the Kassar/Vajna Carolco partnership that would end up a train wreck.
Fans of the film (clearly not Drew – ed), will be glad to know the newly-released 4K edition is the best the film has ever looked and sounded. So at least there’s that.
Robin Hood : Prince of Thieves : Ultimate Edition
At the absolute pinnacle of his powers in Hollywood, this was the quintessential Kevin Costner movie – he hadn’t become too serious, dour or obsessed with sports movie by then, and while his take on the classic myth was a complete Hollywood fabrication it was such a rollicking good time nobody cared, audiences virtually ignoring the more faithful Patrick Bergin starrer released around the same time.
In what must have been the hundredth adaptation of the story (and they show no signs of slowing down, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett attached to one as I write this), it starts by giving Robin of Loxley an imaginative backstory. A soldier of the Crusades, he escapes from the clutches of the Arabian hordes and makes good his escape back to England with a fellow captive, the Middle Eastern Nazeem (Freeman) in tow.
Arriving home, Robin wants nothing more than to tend his late father’s estate and woo the beautiful Maid Marion (Mastrontonio), but the corruption and evil of the local Nottingham Sheriff’s rule is making life difficult for Robin and impossible for his peers, so he recruits a band of rogues and goes underground, redistributing wealth among the poor the old fashioned way.
It’s every inch and unapologetically a romantic action adventure. Just watch as Robin escorts Marion down in the makeshift elevator of branches and pulleys in the Merry Mens’ beautiful wooded hideout, or Robin’s apparent delight in his rivalry with Nottingham, which he seems to view as a contest or duel as much as righteous indignation.
At the height of his career, Costner’s star burned brighter than that of Cruise, Pitt or Schwarzenegger. Here he’s the hero out of a thousand romance novels – rough and ready, boyish, skilled and determined, as good with a bow as he is with the winsome Marion in his grasp.
But as he did in “Die Hard” only a few years before, Rickman walks off with the whole movie, effortlessly stealing every scene he’s in with a panto-style evil that fits perfectly in with the rest of the film’s tone.
And as well as being the movie that bought Morgan Freeman to world attention, it was also the first of three pairings between star and director Reynolds before their very famous falling out over “Waterworld”.
Via Vision’s new ‘Ultimate Edition’ Blu-ray features a striking transfer and comes complete with a massive selection of extra features, including two audio commentaries, featurettes, interviews and a vintage live rendition of ‘that song’ by Bryan Adams.
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DVD Reviews

Disc Reviews : Arrow, Flash, Banana Splits, Sheldon

The Blu-ray player gets all superhero-y this week

Caffeinated Clint



A round-up of what’s been circling the laser on the player-box this week.


Arrow : The Complete Seventh Season

Like any series, there’s usually a point where Henry Winkler is forced to peel himself into a wet suit and jump over a foam white pointer – thankfully for The CW’s “Arrow” that time hasn’t come yet (and with the show about to wrap, it might not come).

Seven 7, believe it or not, actually plants a welcome firecracker under the show’s touché by shaking things up and adding some compel back into proceedings, with the now-outed Green Arrow behind bars, facing some of the rogues he put in there over the past seasons. Stephen Amell is as good as ever but it’s Emily Bett Richard’s Felicity Smoak who gets the dynamite arc this season.

Nice fan-pleasing assortment of bibs and bobs including Comic-Con panel, featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes.



The Banana Splits Movie

A film that’s concept is arguably more awesome than the offering itself, “The Banana Splits” will largely appeal to those with a woody for nostalgia and those with a love of torture porn.

A weird combo, sure, but for the most part this forgettable but fun works. There’s also some good laughs to be had.

The Flash : The Complete Fifth Season

Still the most enjoyable, and ostensibly most delicately-handled of the current crop of superhero shows, “The Flash” continues to knock it out of the park with its ridiculous-though-ridiculously entertaining storytelling, gifted and extremely likeable cast, and in the case of season 5, a solid and surprisingly emotional arc concerning Barry and Iris’s daughter, Nora, who has traveled back in time.

If even just to see what the super-adaptable Tom Cavanagh is doing that week, “The Flash” remains mandatory viewing.

Typical of Warner Bros, they rock it in the extras department here too.


Young Sheldon : The Complete Second Season

Where “The Big Bang Theory” started to suffer in its later seasons, it’s surprisingly-dissimilar spin-off “Young Sheldon” succeeded.

More “The Wonder Years” than an extension of its multi-camera parent, the clever, relatable and very funny coming-of-age story trades pop culture gags for life lessons and two seasons in, it’s a barter that works.

There’s some absolute corker episodes on the set, in particular one where the very unique Sheldon hears that kids with stunted childhoods end up social outcasts, so decides he better start acting more like his peers.

It’s funny, because so much of it rings true.

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