Author Archives: Roy

Polar – Jonas Åkerlund (2019)

The latest Åkerlund is available on Netflix and he even managed to get Mads Mikkelsen for the leading part and there are more familiar faces.

Mikkelsen plays Duncan Vizla, a contract killer who approaches the age of 50. This means that he can retire, or actually, that he has to. His employer has a business model in which it is better that Vizla is dead though, so he sends a few people after him.

Storywise, “Polar” reminds a bit of “John Wick“, but Åkerlund has made his film both more ‘teen’ and more violent (indeed!). Vizla’s boss and colleagues are hip comic-like youngsters who do not care for a dead more or less (the story is indeed based on a graphic novel). This leads to explicit and very violent scenes. The story has no real surprises and I do not think that was intended. Also known from other Åkerlund films are kaleidoscopic scenes with rapidly changing images, explicit female parts, drugs use, bad language and grim humour.

Fortress – Stuart Gordon (1992)

An old scifi that I do not think I saw before. It is not bad though.

Christopher Lambert plays John Brennick who is sent to prison with his wife for trying to have a second child. In the dystopian future that the film plays in, there is a one child policy.

The fortress from the title is a massive underground prison in the middle of a desert. New techniques are used to keep the prisoners under control, making “Fortress” a bleak science fiction film.

Of course Brennick and his wife are going to try to escape. The story does not have big surprises. The stages and the atmosphere are good though, so I think this old film is worth a watch.

Legend – Brian Helgeland (2018)

This film reminds quite a bit of the Peaky Blinders series, mostly in the first half.

In the 1960’ies London, of which some stages remind of Peaky’s Birmingham, two brothers virtually run the city. They have both legal and illegal business, are ruthless towards the opposite and try to work themselves towards common businessmen.

That is to say, one of the half of the twins Kray does, the other prefers to be a gangster. While visually alike, the Krays are each others opposites character-wise and this starts to clash when the ideas start to run in opposing directions.

As I said, the first half of the film reminds of Peaky Blinders. In a gritty city wealthy gangsters live their luxurious lives. After a while the film moves more towards a typical mafia film, but it is still fairly well done.

The Foreigner – Martin Campbell (2017)

Casino Royale” director Martin Campbell came with an action thriller. It looks very Hollywood, but judging the opening titles, the Chinese had a big finger in making the film. Campbell used a former James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, in the leading part.

“The Foreigner” is a not a hip and fast Bond-like action thriller though. Brosnan plays Liam Hennessy, a former IRA fighter who has sworn off violence and went into politics. After 19 years of peace, he is a powerful politician who balances the difficult line between Irishmen who still want to fight for their IRA ideals and the British who want to know nothing of their demands.

Then a bomb goes off in London. Was this done by an IRA splinter group or by people who want to see the IRA blamed so the old days of violence return? The pressure on Hennessy to use his network to find those responsible rises to unimaginable heights. He has a bigger problem though.

In the blast the daughter of the Chinese restaurant owner Quan Ngoc Minh is killed. This was his last daughter having lost his other two daughters and his wife before. He tries to persuade people, including Hennessy, to find the people responsible. Minh is played by Jackie Chan, so you can imagine beforehand that this storyline is going to give some action.

Indeed, from soft pressure, Minh goes over to terrorizing Hennessy and this cat-and-mouse game makes the larger part of the film. I like the more ‘serious’ storyline better than the Minh-storyline, but the director managed to set a pressing atmosphere in some scenes and of course amusing fighting scenes.

Aquarius (series 1,2) – John McNamara (2015, 2016)

On Netflix I noticed the face of David Duchovny. Back in the days I was a fervent X-Files watcher, but I have not really followed Duchovny after. The cover seems to suggest that “Aquarius” is some sort of “Californication”-type series which I never watched.

Actually, “Aquarius” is a very descent crime/drama kind of series. A wonderfully acting Duchovny plays Sam Hodiak, an old and cynical detective who has been on the police force way too long. His temporary boss is a long time friend and Hodiak has two young colleagues, but he prefers to work alone.

The series play in the 1960’ies and like Tarantino’s latest, it combines a few of the interesting storylines of the period. The Kennedy assassination, the campaign of Nixon, the hippy movement including Charles Manson and the rise of (militant) black movements.

The series are based on true events, but in some cases I wonder if it was smart to use the real names, like in the case of Manson. Especially in the first season he is portrayed as a pimp with musical ambitions. That first season is in most ways the better. Duchovny is great as the blunt Hodiak who also proves to have a social antenna and even emotions. The pace is nice and slow, the storyline is somewhat interesting.

In the second season things become less interesting. ‘Juicy’ elements are added and the series become more typical for an American crime series. Season two ends suddenly as if there were plans for another season that was never made.

Not bad, not great. Duchovky is a great actor though.

The Bank Job – Roger Donaldson (2008)

I wanted something easy and this film with Jason Statham gets quite a rating so I figured this would be a descent crime comedy.

The film is based on true events and in the first part it fires off the different storylines in quite a messy way. When we are properly informed about the characters involved we mostly follow a group of small criminals who are talked into a big bank robbing. They come up with an inventive plan to get into the vault of a bank.

As is known from the start, the robbing does not only involve a few petty criminals getting rich, so when interests start to collide the situation goes out of hand.

“The Bank Job” is an alright crime film of which the biggest surprise is that the slightly unlikely story is supposedly based on true events.

Bird Box – Susanne Bier (2018)

Sandra Bullock and droopy face Sarah Paulson (who plays in all “American Horror Story” seasons) in an apocalyptic action film. Would that be something? It’s also a Netflix original…

Some sort of creatures roam the earth. When you see one, you become suicidal. A few people have figured that out before it was too late and they end up on a house together. This goes alright for a while, but slowly but surely the number of people goes down. A message was received from other survivors who live downstream a river, so when all else fails, Bullock and two children make the hazardous journey.

“Bird Box” does not have a great story, but it is somewhat original and not too badly executed. What the film does do well, is set a tense atmosphere. There are some star actors here too, some well thought of details and the acting is pretty good, especially that of the children.

The film is alright. If you feel like watching a pressing ‘no-splatter-horror’ sometimes, this could be an option.

Ying Hung Boon Sik – John Woo (1986)

“A Better Life” is an old Eastern mafia film. It looks old too with flat colours, 1980’ies (Western) clothing and 1980’ies music (Eastern and Western).

We follow a family making money by printing it. When their power grows, they become quite violent. Not all goes well and some end up behind bars or get shot. A few years down the line, some want to lead another life.

Once you have connections with the underworld, you will never get out. This is quite obvious as the pressure on those who opt for a normal life grows.

“A Better Life” makes an alright film, but I think it is somewhat overrated. It didn’t stand time as well as some seem to think. For its time I think the film was pretty violent, but the acting is not too convincing and the drama seldom works.

No waste of time, but not a classic either in my opinion.

Gattaca – Andrew Niccol (1997)

The film is older than I thought. So old even that I may have seen it before. 20 Years is not that long ago though, so it is quite funny to see how old the opening credits for example look.

The film gets quite a rating on IMDb, which is probably one of the reasons that I picked it out. Personally I think “Gattaca” is entertaining, but 7.8 out of 10?

In a near future most people are born by picking the best match. Every now and then a ‘child of God’ is born in which everything is left to chance. These people are not as perfect as the rest and are thus regarded degenerate. There are many swift tests to see how perfect somebody is. This has become the norm for many things in life.

Vincent is one of these ‘degenerates’, but he has set his mind on going on one of the many space missions. In order to do so, he has to be one of the elites, so he finds a way to fake his identity. Then a murder occurs of which the degenerate is the natural suspect, so Vincent is being hunt down by the police.

A descent story, well shot, good acting of good actors, “Gattaca” is indeed a good film, but I did not find it great.

World War Z – Marc Forster (2013)

I thought this would be some apocalyptic science fiction film and the 7.0 on IMDb gave me hope that it was any good too. Soon it becomes clear that the “Z” from the title means “zombie” and that is just what this is, yet another zombie film.

It is an expensive one with here and there some more detail in the story, but “World War Z” is but a very poor zombie film to me

Brad Pitt is Gerry Lane, a family man who formerly worked in dangerous areas. For his former occupation he is rescued with his family and taken to an aircraft carrier, but in return, he has to help to find the origin of the virus to help to find an antidote.

So Lane flies to the far east, to the near east and then to Wales to find the totally unimaginable zombies everywhere and of course has to fight and flee them until he does no longer. Not surprisingly Lane completes his tasks against all odds. There is the obligatory romance, drama and American patriotism.

Yawn.