King of Thieves (2018)

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Starring a handful of British talents and directed by the man behind the moving ‘The Theory of Everything’, you’d think this film based on a massive heist in the diamond district of London would be better than it actually turns out to be.

After a personal tragedy, Brian Reader (Michael Caine) is roped back into the underworld of robberies. He brings a team together of former thieves and brings an alarm specialist and new face into the fold, in the shape of Basil (Charlie Cox). The six elderly gentlemen plan to break into a vault in Hatton Garden, which holds over £200 million in diamonds, cash and gold.

This is 100% one of those movies that fits into the mould of the real story being more interesting than the film itself. It’s such a shame because this could have been an interesting look into the men that committed this crime but it descends into a rough and often unfunny thread of bickering and gruff London blokes cracking nasty comments. ‘King of Thieves’ definitely outlives its early charm and whilst there are some doses of alright comedy, they are few and far between a heist that arrives too soon and isn’t as exciting as it deserved to be.

There are elements within the robbery which are playful and work on the humour revolving around their senior years and a couple of stronger moments utilise on the tension of them in the act and the possibility of being caught. A Tchaikovsky backed sequence of thieving is a stand out snippet with ‘Whiplash’ levels of editing and a burst of diamond hungry energy. This and the quality of the performers involved don’t outweigh the overly long run-time and a film that doesn’t seem to know what angle it’s going for.

James Marsh directs a bunch of recognisable faces and there certainly seems to be a gentle chemistry between them, the first stages of this film are breezy but then it goes on and on in a way where stylistic choices of gangsters in the past flit into proceedings, grey army treachery bogs down a script laden with tiresome expletives and a police-heavy third act which isn’t as riveting or tense as, again it deserved to be.

Benjamin Wallfisch’s music, at points echoes the bouncy yet dramatic score which BBC’s ‘Hustle’ used so well and in fact this film does have some of the pre-swindling set up and snappy edits of the con itself, which mirrors the lighthearted entertainment of the Adrian Lester TV series but it doesn’t keep to this warmness. That would be fine if the eventual darker notes and masculine aggression weren’t so mishandled, becoming cringey character traits losing all the charm of the film.

‘King of Thieves’ may have acting royalty involved from Caine to Jim Broadbent but that doesn’t keep its crown from slipping away from meaty real events into a doddery, average retelling.

5.5/10

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Sully (2016)

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Soaring heights and then crashing back to Earth very quickly, is this safe biographical drama that is interesting, good but an overall un-amazing feature that feels as if it’s hovering calmly over the water never daring to pull up or take the plunge.

In early January, Captain Sully (Tom Hanks) is boarding a flight from LaGuardia in New York to Charlotte in North Carolina, but he and First Officer Jeffrey (Aaron Eckhart) literally fly into trouble as a flock of birds damage their engines. In that quickening scenario of danger Sully manages to land the plane on the Hudson but this leads to many eyes determining whether he made a bad decision.

Clint Eastwood directs this inspiring story about a brave yet everyday hero in a similarly painted-by-numbers manner that he did with ‘Jersey Boys’. It all feels like it’s conforming to a pedestrian telling of a real life event. So considering the life-threatening drama involved it is a film that never comes across as something incredible, rather you’re faced with a good but wholly simple movie.

I couldn’t say I dislike the film though, it’s made efficiently enough and captures that work-like nature of a man in crisis with ease. The differing points of view that come throughout sees the landing from both sides and builds a good narrative, but they get slightly drawn aback by two pretty pointless flashbacks that show younger Sully’s through his work progression, they hardly warrant involvement in the actual finalised release.

The words plane and disaster are ones you never want to hear spoken together, so the few times we see Sully’s nightmarish visions of a plane smashing into a NYC building conjures up jangling nerves and a 9/11 horror. Though the twinkling Christmas-esque music over the passengers being saved is cliched it does help create a miraculous aura over the triumph of many people being helped by others.

Tom Hanks is, as you’d imagine, a fine solid lead playing a capable and charmingly knowledgeable hero, on the flip-side though you know it’s Hanks all the way through and you never lose yourself into his performance enough to buy into it 100%. Aaron Eckhart gets a few good quips and does well in helpfully rooting for Sully but is mostly lost to the wayside.

‘Sully’ flies effectively yet super calmly to the screen as a biopic like nearly every other biopic that gets released during this point of the film calendar. It does the job as Sully himself did but it’s a quiet and average film.

6/10

Momentum (2015)

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Never really ceasing from fight sequences or other octane fuelled scenarios, this action feature is a fun lark but underneath this there’s nothing special in terms of storytelling to keep the movie from feeling like a Friday night watch with not much else to do…which is exactly when I viewed it.

After a bank heist, Alex (Olga Kurylenko) is made and must keep evading police attention, on top of this she has an important flash drive that a senator (Morgan Freeman) wants back. He sends out a team of specialists to try and kill her and return the item, but Mr. Washington (James Purefoy) is dealing with a skillful tenacious young woman.

This is a directing debut from a man called Stephen Campanelli who seems to know action films but can’t really pump the same degree of fun into his movie. There are some alright scenes and everything is handled as you’d expect but it feels like a straight to DVD kind of thing and even some watchable popcorn filler with punches aplenty or a car chase of carnage can’t lift it to cinematic levels.

To be honest there are a couple of cool touches in the film, for example in the bank heist we see some Daft Punk-esque robbers who may star in a pretty unexciting opening/bank heist but look different and then we get Alex as a character who like a female Jason Bourne goes all out to win the day and yes she may not be special but she’s interesting enough to follow the film with.

It’s just that like the title of the movie, it never stops going…there’s no rest point or clever scenes to slow the pace down. Now that could be a good thing but it’s done in a way that you want it to stop. Not even a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ like torture scene can amp up any tension in the non-action points. It feels like a film churned out with no true thought to stand apart from every other action release and it’s one you probably won’t even have watched.

Kurylenko is the smouldering woman on the run/warpath and convinces as the capable Alex but there’s not too much to her apart from looking good and fighting good. Purefoy does his gentlemanly villain role as I’ve come to grow used to thanks to the ever terrible ‘The Following’ TV show. Morgan Freeman luckily grabs a paycheck for turning up and speaking on the phone in front of the cameras…nice work if you can get it.

It’s not awful but it really really isn’t good either, it’s background noise and that’s about it to tell the truth.

4.5/10