Tokarev (Rage) – 2014

MV5BMTg1ODg4NjUzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTU5NDc3MTE@._V1_SX214_AL_When the daughter of a reformed criminal is kidnapped, he rounds up his old crew and seeks his own brand of justice.

DirectedPaco Cabezas

Stars:  Nicolas CageRachel NicholsMax Ryan

Sometimes you wonder just what Nicolas Cage did in a previous life to deserve the recent run of form.

It’s not that he’s a particularly bad actor, he always seems to give his performances everything.

But for one reason or another the scripts he gets are below par with regurgitated story lines.

On paper Tokarev (original title Rage) should have been a neat little revenge thriller, but it derives itself from a Taken-esque atmosphere.

In other words, if your daughter gets kidnapped it’s free reign to go kill everyone in sight.

Cage plays Paul Maguire a respected business man with a dark past who has left his criminal habits behind him. When his daughter is kidnapped and then murdered that criminal past comes back to haunt him.

Reuniting Maguire with his crew he goes on a rampage to find out who was responsible and bring them to justice before Danny Glover’s tired looking cop can get to them first.

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Car chases, fist fights and gun battles are strewn throughout the run time but there is nothing to set it apart or make it unique in any way.

Cage’s character is a bit of an enigma, we don’t really have any idea who he is, albeit for a very brief flash back. Danny Glover ambles about  speaking gruffly without much else to do but interfere.

The ending is a kick in the balls, as an audience, to let us endure over ninety minutes for that pile of tosh it should be us with large amounts of rage!

I still believe that on his day Cage is as good an actor as anyone, but it takes one film out of ten for him to prove that.

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Vehicle 19 – 2013

vehicle 19A foreign traveler (Walker) unknowingly picks up a rental car that will tie him to a web of corrupt local police.

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What we think: Paul Walker can’t seem to stay away from cars at the moment, in between Fast Five and the recently released Fast and Furious 6 Walker took the lead in Vehicle 19.

Walker plays Michael Woods whose recently jumped parole and heads out to South Africa to see his girlfriend, in the hope of rekindling their relationship.

Picking up a rental car, a minivan, which is hardly fast or furious, it turns out to be the wrong choice as during his journey he’s chased down by the local police for the murder of a young woman.

The film for the majority of its entirety is shot from the inside of the car, with Walker rarely stepping out of the driver’s seat as he tries to navigate his way through a city he is totally unfamiliar with.

Films that capture one location need to rely on a number of things, firstly the acting has got to be top draw and secondly you’ve got to pull out the tension and hook the audience.

Phone Booth and Buried which placed its protagonists in a confined space paid off pretty well, but here Vehicle 19 struggles and almost splutters as if gasping for more fuel.

The problem is the despite Walker putting in a decent performance as a man with a goal who is pushed to the edge it lacks any real bite or conviction.

For the opening twenty minutes we see him converse with his girlfriend via phone, complain he’s got the wrong rental car and try to remember which side of the road he has to drive on.

It’s dull, and when you compare it with Ryan Reynolds’s opening twenty minutes in Buried where he’s confined to a 6 foot box, Vehicle 19 is way off the mark.

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Relative unknown director Mukunda Michael Dewil leaves it too late, and when Woods discovers a phone and gun in the glove box as well as a bound and gagged girl in the trunk many of us have already turned the ignition off.

Woods is hunted by Detective Smith, a man with a terrifying accent that leaves genuine chills down your spine, for someone who only gets a minimal amount of screen time at the end he does leave a lasting impression.

It does have its rare moments and of course Walker gets to use his driving skills to full capacity as he’s perused through the townships and city streets by police cars that you’d expect would be able to catch up with a minivan.

It’s short but not so sharp, the surrounding locations begged for so much more than what was delivered. I’d much rather have seen Walker behind the wheel of a high performance vehicle…oh wait I can!

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Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!

Tower Block – 2012

Tower-Block-posterSeveral months after witnessing a murder, residents of Tower Block 31 find themselves being picked off by a sniper, pitting those lucky enough to be alive into a battle for survival.

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What we thinkTower Block is a pretty decent British thriller, that despite a completely transparent plot it holds the tension extremely well for the duration.

When a group of tenants witness the murder of a young boy they decide to keep quiet, no one saw or heard anything it seems and certainly no one is coming forward.

One year on and someone is still holding a grudge as a sniper starts to pick the residents off one by one from an adjacent building, towards the tower block destined for demolition.

The film will put together a group of people with a range of different personalities, some good and some bad, and as is seemingly the path to follow they must all work as one if they are going to survive the situation.

They have to put their differences to one side, something which when your back is against the wall is pretty common in film these days.

Directed by James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson, the pair have cut their teeth as assistant director and producer respectively. This is Nunn’s debut feature and to be honest he, along with Thompson have encapsulated the terror of tower claustrophobia very well.

The cast is a decent list of British talent, Ralph Brown (Alien 3), Jack O’Connell (Harry Brown) and female lead Sheridan Smith whose majority of acting has come the way of TV, all do a pretty good job.

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The characters are all pretty well stereotyped, the drug dealing bad boy, the old timer, the strong willed female, and you won’t need to be inspector Morse to figure out who’s at the end of the trigger.

Tower blocks seem to be the location of choice at the moment, The Raid and Dredd both examples of eye catching terror and explosive action. So it was nice to see a film take the location but set itself away from the others in terms of story.

Instead of going up the residents are looking to get down, whether its climbing down an elevator shaft or scaling the building via fire hose, booby traps and plans going awry all stand in their way of escape.

It won’t last too long in the memory, but if you like your British B-movies then this is probably going to be one not to miss.

Strong acting, especially from O’Connell who is nothing short of the show stealer, along with some well shot scenes make this a decent edge of your seat thrill ride.

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Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!

Taken 2 – 2012

taken 2 posterIn Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter.

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What we thinkTaken was one of the sleeper hits of 2008 so there was no surprise when it was announced that Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) would be back in the thick of it once again.

However, one wondered exactly how the film would pan out in terms of plot and just who would be ‘taken’ this time?

Pierre Morel was not coming back for the sequel and so the directorial reigns were handed over to Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3).

It’s all about revenge as the families of the victims Mills dispatched with ease last time want retribution for him and his family.

Set in Istanbul Mills takes his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) and ex-wife (Famke Janssen) whose having her own marital problems, to Turkey for some bonding after he completes a little job.

He’s tracked down fairly easily and within minutes he’s rushing through the streets and back alleys cracking heads and breaking limbs.

Unable to avoid capture both he and his ex-wife are taken and it’s up to young Kim to become the expert tactical genius who in a matter of minutes can map read, handle a gun and drive a car like Kimi Raikkonen.

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I’m all for non-believable action but Taken 2 really pushes the boundaries and leaves plot holes scattered behind it.

First off and I’m sure everyone pointed it out, was Kim’s sudden driving skills. At the start of the film she’s failed her test already and is under the strict coaching of Daddy.

Fast forward to the escape in Istanbul and she’s flying around corners and reverse hand braking like a pro, now am I the only one who found this completely absurd. That and the unique way Mills gets her to discover his location using a few grenades.

It’s a film that you cannot take seriously for a second, the bad guys are about as villainous as Mr Tumble and the script is weak, it almost takes any credibility the first one had away.

The gritty nature the first film had is lost, and it feels rushed and disjointed, sad to say it’s laughable and not in a good way.

The fight choreography though is exceptional still and the shades of action are well put together, but the rest that is draped around it should long be forgotten.

There begs the question whether or not there is any legs left in this franchise for one more outing, I firmly believe that Neeson can do the job and do it well. But there would need to be a better script and certainly an 18 rating.

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Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!

Trance – 2013

trance posterAn art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

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What we think: “Amnesia is bollocks,” that’s the thought of one of a group of four crooks tasked with trying to discover the whereabouts of a Goya painting worth £25,000,000, from the memory of James McAvoy’s character Simon.

Simon, an art auctioneer has a problem, well he has a few in Danny Boyle’s latest mind bending heist thriller, Trance. He’s addicted to gambling and in return for wiping his debts clear he agrees to help steel the Goya painting from an auction house for Franck (Vincent Cassel) and his criminal entourage.

In an aggressive and highly charged opening sequence, which sees Simon describe various methods in which paintings have been stolen before from the smash and grab of the old school era to the more high tech, the heist is well under way.

Simon is in the thick of the action as Franck and his accomplices take charge, and as Franck is making off with the painting he’s challenged by Simon who receives a knock to the head rendering his memory practically useless.

After staggering about through all the chaos he ends up in hospital having his brain drilled and drained and any short term memory with it.

With methods of torture clearly not working the gang turn their attention to another, hypnotherapy, and seek help from Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) who attempts to guide Simon through hypnosis in an attempt to find out exactly where he left the painting.

And so begins a journey of discovery, deceit, greed and lust as everything is not what it seems and loyalties will be tested to the fullest.

Simon’s hypnotic journey takes him through the idyllic French countryside, to a church filled with stolen paintings to the slick London underworld as he tries in vein to piece together his broken memory, but what unfolds is not what he or any of us are probably expecting.

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Simon, Franck and Elizabeth are all pretty interwoven as characters, it’s almost hard to work out who is playing each other off against the other, whose dream we’re in and at what level. You’ll find that you care about all three of them in a different way when something more is revealed about them.

The remaining trio of Franck’s gang are probably around for far too long than they need to be, but are removed for the final heart pounding third act, which accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack really intensifies the finale.

Trance is written by John Hodge and he’s reunited with Danny Boyle again having previously worked together on such films as Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, where at the crux of it all they too are heist films in a different guise.

Trance is well shot, Danny Boyle is in his element directing a dark, disturbing and at times a head scratching film, I’ve not had this much fun from a Boyle film since Shallow Grave.

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Visit the IMDb page for Trance

Please feel free to leave a comment about this film, we would love to know what you think and we’ll do our best to respond!