TL;DR This Week In Cinema: Blood Is Not Thicker Than Your Screenplay Consultant
Welcome to Beat's weekly rundown of what's hot in the coming seven days of cinematic releases. My bugbear of unresolved problems on a script level comes roaring back this week, along with some refreshing horror and painterly drama.
Six films again? Goodness, I spoil you. To be fair, there's seven releases, but Operation Chromite didn't quite make the cut - sorry, Mr Neeson.
While producers pick at bones, I pick bones with them. Mad Max himself lands on my shitlist, horror gets reinvented for the hundredth time this year, and some Scottish people feel sad about something other than their current system of governance.
Guessing here, but it seems a lot of critics saw a different film to the one I did. Sure, Mel Gibson does a bang-up job of being a recovering alcoholic and anti-Semite, but is this form the best way for him to tackle his very real and very pressing demons?
Short answer: no. Pick a flick that isn't this trashy, racist, sexist and plain unoriginal to work through your issues, Max.
Even as a grungy revenge flick, it fails. The action is unappealing, the characters other than Link repellent and one-dimensional. Gibson gets off a few good one-liners, but spends the rest of the runtime trudging around with Little Miss Plot Device (Erin Moriarty) in predictable fashion. How director Jean-François Richet manages to waste the eminent William H. Macy is beyond me.
Let's dig into those words at the end of the trailer: "How far would you go to protect what's yours?" Not only are they a riff on the single most overused tagline in history, they paint Lydia as possession. That's barely scratching the surface of a screenplay in which Link's last line of dialogue is, "You're a good girl."
tl;dr Take off the nostalgia goggles - Mad Max this ain't.
Fede Alvarez appeared on the horror scene like a thunderclap, directing the oddly self-serious but hugely fun (link NSFW) Evil Dead remake under the guidance of Sam Raimi. The same two enfants terrible have once again joined with screenwriter Rodo Sayagues and scream queen Jane Levy to deliver the chills.
Done with the undead, they tackle another stalwart mainstay of horror - the home invasion thriller. As three small-time Detroit crooks break into the house of a blind war veteran (Stephen Lang) to steal his insurance payout, they discover he may not be as helpless as they thought.
Ah, Detroit, where crime doesn't pay because nothing ever pays. It's just as hard to be a cop as a criminal, as hard to make it for guitarists as rappers, and as dangerous to be a virgin as it is to have sex. Now we can add "breathing" to the list of things not to do there.
tl;dr Detroit, motherfucker. Don't choke.
Jason Statham franchise revivals have been in vogue among Hollywood producers, and that hasn't that gone well for everyone. At least this time Statham had the temerity to stick around.
But should he have bothered? Go on, buy a ticket anyway, you dullards. Watch as this gritty, world-weary Cockney assassin slays a few douchebags in order to rescue Jessica Alba, the perma-damsel, who is OF COURSE a bikini-clad orphanage worker.
I'm tired, guys. So tired.
tl;dr Most franchises should die quiet, dignified deaths, but producers don't see it that way.
N.B. The "first official trailer" was too spoilery - teaser for you!
Described as "Pokémon Go meets Highlander", Nerve is the second thriller this year from Catfish directors Ariel Schuman and Henry Joost (the other being Viral). I say "Catfish directors" because it's more flattering than "the guys that made the second-best and second-worst Paranormal Activity films".
Hello zeitgeist! This thriller takes social media celebrity to new extremes by introducing the online game Nerve, which dares 'players' to perform stunts for cash. The stunts start off innocent, but take a dark turn when the paying viewers demand that Emma Roberts kiss the least appealing Franco.
Picture The Game via Snapchat, Tinder and high school peer pressure. While its messages are fairly blatant and trite, it's touted as an effective and polished thriller.
tl;dr mfw Dave Franco is a movie star.
For those who love languishing in the lugubrious, Terence Davies exists. Ready your soul for some hard knocks as young love falls victim to history; where two young Scottish lovers are torn apart by the onset of World War I.
Like a painter, Davies creates work for quiet contemplation, amply assisted by cinematographer Michael McDonough and the unparalleled moors of Scotland. If you were planning on seeing Mechanic: Resurrection before you read this and wisely reconsidered, this probably shouldn't be the flick to replace it.
Naturally, it's received broad critical acclaim, with a hilariously notable exception basically reading "I can't understand what they're saying".
tl;dr Sweet Scottish sadness.
The greatest Janus of our time, Bryan Cranston, is a natural for undercover work - he did it for seven years, hiding in plain sight as a mild-mannered moron before busting heads and dealing all the meth.
Unfortunately, his post-Breaking Bad castings have been somewhat underwhelming. The Infiltrator gives mah boi Cranston ample room to show off his chops, but just about everything else falls short. Cranston is the tentpole, and heavy weighs the film.
Nevertheless, BB buffs will find some joy as Cranston plays IRL undercover agent Robert Mazur, a federal agent who takes the guise of a money launderer to take down Colombian kingpin Pablo Escobar.
tl;dr When you undercover and go too deep.
And now for THE VERDICT - maybe you only get to see one of these flicks on the big screen, and you don't wanna waste that night out. So, drum roll please...
I'm happy if you see anything that isn't Blood Father, honestly. Mechanic: Resurrection is also, like most things back from the dead, well worth avoiding. Time to get spooped, kids. Head on down the Eight Mile and check in to Don't Breathe.
Until next week!