Category Archives: thriller

Law Abiding Citizen – F. Gary Gray (2009)

I like the title of this film, but it took me a long time before I watched it. Unfortunately, I like the film a lot less than the title…

Clyde Shelton sees his wife and daughter get murdered. The perpetrators are caught but the persecutor does not aim as high as Shelton’s wishes.

Suddenly we are 10 years down the line. One of the perpetrators gets a lethal injection, while the other has been out of prison for years. Apparently Shelton has been cooking on revenge for all that time and a fairly boring story unfolds in which Shelton came up with all kinds of incredible ways to take revenge on the people involved a decade earlier. This involves some quite violent scenes.

It all results in an unconvincing film with a lot of ‘yeah, right scenes’.

X-Files (series season 11) – Chris Carter (2018)

So did I fail hearing of season 11 or did it end up somewhere low on my watch-list?

Season 11 is very similar to season 10. There are pomp episodes bringing you up to speed on the ‘big story’ and trying to knit yet another angle to it and there are more comedy like episodes or general X-Files experimentation so to say.

Just like with season 10 this is done with limited success. The ‘big story’ now involves Mulder and Skully’s son, of course there is the “CSM” (“cigarette smoking man”, but I still prefer the description “cancer man”) who is portrayed as the most powerful man in the world. Especially the drama / romance in these episodes is pretty damn boring.

Then we have weird episodes with aliens, episodes about technology, boring vampires and a very amusing episode in which a new character has been montaged into early episodes, which made a good laugh.

That last episode is probably a lot more funny when you know the old series. For the rest, oh well, it is just Carter and co working on some themes and ideas that are familiar to people who have seen the X-Files before, but there is hardly need to know all the previous seasons in detail. Just a few episodes, some are nice, some less so.

Den Skyldige – Gustav Möller (2018)

The first film in months that I got from my DVD rental is a Scandinavian thriller. No idea how this ended up on my list.

“The Guilty” is about a policemen who went off track and waiting for his trial has been put on a one-man-emergency-room. The entire film plays in two rooms in a police station. Asger Holm picks up the phone, talks to some drunk local and waits for the next call. Then a woman who appears to be kidnapped calls and Asger’s policeman serving attitude floats up.

He finds out where the car drives, manages to find out who is the kidnapper, what car he drives and where he lives. He sends a policecar to the house where two children remain and is in contact with the emergency room of the district where the car is.

Even though you basically only watch Asger, the events bring tension. The story turns a bit a couple of times.

“Den Skyldige” is an alright film made in a fairly original way.

Contratiempo – Oriol Paulo (2016)

I always wonder how international titles are decided upon. The title translates to ‘setback’, but the international title is the away-giving “The Invisible Guest”. Set that against the mystery and thriller listings for genre and you pretty much know what is going on, right?

The film is much overrated on IMDb.com in my opinion (8.1). It is but an alright crime thriller. The young and successful businessman Adrián has a beautiful wife, but also a married mistress. On one of their escapades Adrián and Laura have an accident in which a young man dies. They try to cover their tracks.

The film is Adrián talking to his lawyer and the film shows the events. As the versions differ, so does the film. This is not wholly original, but worked out alright. Of course the film is supposed to work towards an unexpected angle and just that does not work out too well end the end of the film is pretty weak.

Not bad, but certainly no 4+ rating on my scale either.

Velvet Buzzsaw – Dan Gilroy (2019)

I had no high expectations, but for some reason I wanted to watch this film. I think it is better than the 5.7 rating at IMDb.

We get a peek into the modern art scene in which buyers, sellers, artists and critics work together for maximum profit. A snakepit in which people have to compete and cooperate.

Everybody is always on the hunt for the next hot artist, but things have been low for a while. Then the dark art of an unknown artist is discovered and a bubble starts to be built.

As the art or its artist is even darker than imagined, the film has some thriller and even horror elements. These do not dominate the film.

As said, the film is not all that bad to me. The story is alright and at least something different. The end is quite weak though.

Angel Has Fallen – Ric Roman Waugh (2019)

The film starts with a high-tech assassination attempt on the American president (Morgen Freeman). The only other survivor is main character Mike Banning (Gerald Butler).

A not too surprising story unfolds in which Banning gets framed for the attack and he escapes in order to prove his innocence.

“Angel Has Fallen” is full of high-adrenaline action (sometimes a bit over-the-top) and has a good, dense atmosphere.

Not a high-flyer, but a good action thriller.

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.

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.

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.