Tag Archives: Bill Paxton

Nightcrawler

No, not a solo movie for X-Men‘s teleporting blue mutant Nightcrawler. This dark thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who lost 20 pounds to play the role of the sociopathic lead. But will the dramatic weight loss alongside the dramatic material equal a successful movie?

Lou (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a driven but disturbed young man living in LA. Looking for work he one night stumbles upon a car crash where he sees freelance film crews trying to get shots of the crash to sell to the TV stations. Lou instantly becomes inspired to do the same. But as Lou goes to extreme lengths to get better footage, his actions become increasing dangerous to those around him.

Pulling double duties on this film, Dan Gilroy’s direction and script are fantastic. Whether its Lou interacting in conversation by reciting lines learned from online business school or the frantic camera work as Lou tries to get the best shot of a devastating accident, it all works perfectly to capture the essence of Lou and his disturbed behaviour. Everything feels off about this guy. Because of this Gyllenhaal doesn’t have to resort to what other actors may do and give Lou ticks and quirks to show his abnormalities. It’s creepy enough just watching Lou smile as he tries to flirt (in his mind) with Rene Russo’s news director Nina. Gyllenhaal is mesmerizing as the sociopathic Lou. It’s probably the first time I’ve found Gyllenhaal to be completely repellent in a movie (which is exactly how Lou should be). There is no redeeming qualities to Lou but he is a fascinating character to watch.

Although Gilroy and Gyllenhaal work shines the most in this movie there’s also a great supporting role for Russo. There are some wonderful scenes throughout the movie between Lou and Nina that shows the power changes in their relationship. Both are exploiting crime scenes for their own personal gain and when you think Nina may show outrage at some of the footage Lou brings to her, her only concern is how to get it pass the censors. Bill Paxton, as a fellow ‘nightcrawler’ and Riz Ahmed as Lou’s desperate homeless assistant Rick also get strong moments in the movie as they interact with Lou and try not to get caught in the cross fire of his actions.

It’s hard to find fault with this movie but I will say that, unsurprisingly, it’s not exactly a feel-good movie. There’s hardly any likeable characters, and some viewers may find some of the crime scene footage upsetting (in particular one sequence which sees Lou entering the scene of a home invasion). But if you do want to give it a shot then  Nightcrawler may offer you a compelling and thought-provoking look into the dark corners of the media and human behaviour.

Rating 4.5/5 – dark and thrilling with a stand out performance from Jake Gyllenhaal

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Edge of Tomorrow

Tom’s Cruise latest sci-fi movie was originally known as All You Need Is Kill (based on the book of the same name), before the title was then changed to the uninspiring Edge of Tomorrow. After a so-so trailer where only co-star Emily Blunt seemed to be of any interest, I was sure this film would be as generic as the title. Still with a spare Sunday afternoon to myself I wondered into my local cinema to see if it can impress me. But will this movie inspire repeat viewings?

Set in the near future where mankind is battling aliens nicknamed Mimics, William Cage(Tom Cruise) is a smarmy PR guy who is suddenly thrown unwillingly into the front line. When he dies on the battlefield he somehow finds himself repeating the same day all over again. The day always end with him dying and the process starting over and over again. The only person who believes him is war hero Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), together they try to help Cage survive the day and win the war.

You can imagine the film pitch for this film, Groundhog Day meets Aliens with the first half hour of Saving Private Ryan. But really this film should be called A Million Ways to Kill Tom Cruise. Director Doug Liman has already said that this film should appeal to those who both love and hate Tom Cruise. If you love him, he’s in it, and if you don’t he dies, over and over and over again.

But Cruise is great in this film. At the beginning Cage is a cowardly, sleazy guy who goes on a journey that turns him into a brave man with a conscience. Even better is Blunt as Rita, whose been given the nickname of Full Metal Bitch by her fellow soldiers. Blunt clearly relishes playing such a bad-ass whose short temper and frustration also reveal a brave and intelligent person underneath. Rita’s training of Cage provides the film with plenty of darkly comic moments as she brutally trains Cage to make him a better fighter. Her character is the true hero of this film as she makes Cage who he is. Of the supporting cast Bill Paxton is hilarious as the drill Sargent who greets Cage at the start of every single day.

The battle scene on the beach is well-directed and feels thrilling in IMAX 3d. As we return to the same battle repeatedly it doesn’t get tiring or boring as the film approaches the battle in different ways. In fact that goes for most of this film. Despite its premise the film does not get repetitive as Cage’s day continues to start over. Screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth deserve praise for making each do-over interesting and full of black comedy. The aliens-Mimics-are also a great creation, with their multiple legs and the quick scattering way they move, they certainly scared me a couple of times.

It’s just a shame that the film does not have the best of endings. It all seems like its leading to a more riskier climax but then the movie decides to play it safe. While it doesn’t undo all the good work that’s gone before, it just seems like a missed opportunity. However this proves to be an unexpected but welcoming addition to this year’s summer blockbusters.

But I still think All You Need Is Kill was a better title though.

Rating 4/5- a surprising and exciting sci-fi action movie

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Haywire (2011)

I miss Steven Soderbergh. I wish the talented director of Out Of Sight, Magic Mike and Behind The Candelabra hadn’t retired. Still I recently got to see his 2011 action-thriller Haywire, can this briefly fill the void I’ve been missing?

Mallory (Gina Carano) works for a private company on ‘operations’, where her last case was rescuing a hostage. However all is not as it seems and soon after Mallory is running for her life with her former colleagues and the police after her. 

The opening scene is great as we’re introduced to Mallory and her colleague Aaron (Channing Tatum) at a small diner in upstate New York, which features a brutal and unexpected fight scene before going back in time to see how they ended up like this. From then on Haywire is an intreaging, fun, action film with also a nice amount of humour which helps break up the complicated plot and take a breather from the adrenaline packed fight scenes.

It’s great to see a strong female as the lead character in an action film. Steven Soderbergh built the role of Mallory around Carano who had never acted before, instead she was a mixed martial artist fighter. As expected the fight scenes are the high point in this film with Carano doing all her own stunts. Although she is not the most expresive actress she handles the role well and is strongly supported by her more experience cast members (most of whom she proceeds to beat up). Michael Fassbender in particular is great as a British operative and Bill Paxton has fun as Mallory’s protective dad. Only Ewan McGregor as Mallory’s boss and ex husband feels a bit out of place in the film, maybe because its hard to imagine tough cookie Mallory falling for such a slimeball.

However there are some downsides to this film that can’t be overlooked. The plot is overly complicated and confusing, I found it difficult to keep up at times and remember what the hell is going on and who is who and what they were doing. There is also moments of extream stupidity by the villians of the piece  and considering they are all meant to be intellegant people you wonder how they got their high powered jobs in the first place.

Although not perfect, Haywire is a fun film and reminds you of how versatile a director Soderbergh is,  jumping into different genres and coming up with something interesting and entertaining. It’s a shame we won’t be seeing any new movies from him, but if you’re a fan of Soderbergh and like action films, then give Haywire and Carano a chance. Just don’t expect to understand the plot.

Rating 3.5/5-too overly complicated for its own good but the fight scenes are ace.

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