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2895 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Approaching the end, 17 August 2014
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As we reach the penultimate episode there are still questions to be answered; most notably who wants the Stein Group's project in the West Bank to fail. Having been compromised Nessa agrees to work with a Palestinian company and agrees to their stipulation that she must take part in the ceremonial digging the first spade of soil in Hebron. While she is there Atika lures her brother Ephra away to his house in the country; ostensibly for a dirty weekend but in fact for a far more sinister reason. Meanwhile Hayden-Hoyle's investigation is progressing and he is making links between the events in the Middle East that tie back to Washington.

The tension was always fairly high in this series but here it raises even further as at least one, possibly two major characters are killed off and we still don't know who is ultimately behind it and what their motivation is. Writer/Director Hugo Blick manages to do this without things feeling unbelievable and anybody who watched his previous work; 'The Shadow Line' will know that he is willing to kill off main characters so there isn't the usual feeling that certain people are safe. As in previous episodes the acting is good; most notably from Maggie Gyllenhaal and Stephen Rea. With only one episode to go I'm left with mixed feelings; on the one hand I want to see how it resolves on the other I don't want it to end yet!

The End…?, 14 August 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After Milner's instruction to release the Russian Flu virus the gang know they have a limited time to find out who is going to release it and they can't use any usual methods to find him as he will release it as soon as he thinks anybody is onto him. On the plus side Terrance, the man they are after, needs to retrieve the canisters and the trail of bodies he leaves in his wake make him easier to find. Stopping Terrence and saving humanity isn't their only worry; Becky is rapidly running out of the medication she needs and has made a drastic decision; and she wants Ian to be with her at the end.

As the second series comes to a close there will be two main questions on viewers' minds; will the gang stop the release of the Russian Flu and more importantly will there be another series… thankfully it looks like the answer will be yes to both those questions! For a while though it looked as if things could go either way and right up until the end it looked as if key characters might not make it to the end of the episode let alone into a possible third series.

As one would expect everything looked great with the usual vivid colours and there was a fair amount of bloody violence as numerous head-shots left blood all over the backdrops. The cast did a fine job and there were some good twists… mostly involving the set up for the third season. Overall this was a pretty good ending to the season; I look forward to the next and hope that there is enough story left to tell without it feeling too drawn out.

A tale of revenge and redemption, 13 August 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michael Sullivan Jr doesn't know what his father does for a living; he just knows he works for John Rooney; a wealthy man who looks on Michael's father as a son. Then one day Michael Jnr hides in his father's car as he goes to work with Rooney's real son Connor. Rooney is a gangster and Michael Sullivan (senior) is his enforcer; on this day Michael and Connor are just meant to 'have a word' with somebody but Connor kills him and realises that they have been seen. Sullivan assures him that his son won't tell anybody but that isn't enough for Connor; he is determined to ensure his safety even if it means eliminating the entire Sullivan family! He kills Sullivan's wife and younger son but Sullivan and Michael Jnr survive and are forced to go on the run. Knowing Sullivan will want revenge on his real son Rooney sends a killer after the two. On the road together the father and son get to know each other better than they ever did before.

It isn't surprising that this film is pretty good given those involved with it. Director Sam Mendes does a fine job keeping the pace relatively slow without things getting boring; this gives us a chance to get to know the characters and actually care about them rather than just enjoying the action. The cast is full of well-known actors; Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Daniel Craig, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Ciarán Hinds most notably and some of these are in relatively small parts. These and the rest of the cast do a fine job although some may find Hanks a bit too nice for somebody who is a killer. The less well known Tyler Hoechlin does well as twelve year-old Michael Jnr.

Given the subject matter it won't be surprising to learn that there is a fair amount of violence although it doesn't feel gratuitous and is sometimes more shocking than exciting. There may be no real twists in the story; indeed the ending had more than a degree of inevitability about it but that is one of the films strengths; the Road to Perdition is a journey without detours and unexpected turns. Overall a film that is well worth watching.

A few hours in the life of Akiko, 13 August 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Akiko works as a call girl in Tokyo; we first meet her in a bar where she is on the phone to her boyfriend. He clearly doesn't trust her as he keeps asking her questions and refuses to believe that she is just with a girlfriend. When she hangs up she returns to talking with a man; he has arranged for her to spend the night with somebody 'important'… she isn't keen to go as she wants to see her grandmother and she has an exam in the morning. Eventually she gives in to the pressure and is driven to the man's house. It turns out he is an elderly retired professor who is more interested in having dinner with her than sleeping with her. The next morning he drives her to university and sees her boyfriend confront her, the boyfriend then approaches the car and, assuming the old man is Akiko's grandfather gets in and talks about his desire to marry Akiko. An awkward situation is averted but later when he learns the old man isn't Akiko's grandfather he gets violent.

If you want films to be fast paced them this isn't going to be for you; to say the pace is gentle is an understatement! Director Abbas Kiarostami shows things that don't normally appear in films; the elderly man doses off at traffic lights; this is not a hint that he will cause an accident just an old man feeling tired. Similarly the camera doesn't always show the people we expect it to; we don't see the old man's neighbour as she asks him to move his car and when there is some action it is off screen. Some may find these techniques boring or even pretentious but I found it interesting in the way that it drew me into the story; these felt like real people who one just happens to be watching for a short while. The ending will be a problem for some viewers as well; it certainly came as a shock to me; just as it looks as if something is going to happen it ends so don't expect any resolution. The cast perform well; Rin Takanashi brings a vulnerability to the role of Akiko, Tadashi Okuno is good as Takashi, the old man, and Ryo Kase somehow manages to be threatening but not totally unsympathetic as Akiko's boyfriend Noriaki. Overall I'd recommend this to anybody looking for something a little different.

These comments are based on watching the film in Japanese with English subtitles.

Okay if rather dated Keanu Reeves Cyberpunk, 11 August 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In a future where data is power, protagonist Johnny makes a living smuggling the data in his own brain. The upgrades enabling him to do this meant removing some of his own memories and now he is ready to retire and wants them back… inevitably he must do just one more job first. The job involves carrying stolen data from Beijing to Newark, New Jersey. There are two problems though; firstly there is more data than he is equipped to handle so he will die if it isn't extracted in forty eight hours and secondly the original owners of the data want it back and have sent Yakuza killers after him to retrieve his head! Once in Newark he learns that his employer has double-crossed him; he is forced to go on the run with cybernetically enhanced bodyguard Jane to find somebody else capable of extracting the data and delivering it to those who need it.

This film had promise but unfortunately ends up fairly average. The world shown is a cliché dystopia; the corporate elite live the good life and dress in sharp suits while everybody else seems to live in a wasteland in rough clothes and sporting facial tattoos. Keanu Reeves is okay as Johnny, and Udo Kier is amusing as his agent but Takeshi Kitano is wasted as the corporate bad guy. The computer special effects are fairly dated now. If you can ignore these flaws or even enjoy their cheesiness the film isn't too bad. Overall I'd say it is an okay way to kill an hour and a half but if you want a really good cyberpunk film from that era watch 'Ghost in the Shell' or 'The Matrix'.

Great Guy (1936)
B Movie Cagney, 10 August 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This lesser known Cagney film sees him playing the deputy chief of New York's Weights and Measures department, Johnny Cave, although he is acting chief as his boss has been put in hospital for going after the 'wrong' people. The people he is after are ripping off people for a few cents in every transaction; it may not seem like much but in a city the size of New York all those 'few cents' add up to an awful lot of dollars and some of the city's highest officials are up to their necks in it. He is particularly interested in Abel Canning; a city alderman who just happens to be his girlfriend's boss.

While this isn't one of Cagney's better known films it isn't bad and even though he is on the right side of the law this time he is still the familiar tough guy. The idea of having a film about somebody working for the Department of Weights and Measures doesn't sound too thrilling but in reality it just means he is a cop by another name. The story is solid enough and although there are no real surprises along the way it is still enjoyable. Cagney puts in a decent performance as Cave and Mae Clarke is good enough as his love interest although the character is a bit underwritten. Some lightness is added to the proceedings by Cave's new partner, Irishman Patrick James Aloysius 'Pat' Haley… a character who has clearly kissed the Blarney Stone given his gift of the gab! Overall this may not be a classic but fans of Cagney and '30s crime dramas should enjoy it.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Who is listening?, 9 August 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After the discovery of the wiretap Nessa isn't the only person keen to discover who was listening to the communications going in and out of the West Bank; Shlomo is keen to know who put a tap on wires his company installed. He discovers two things; firstly that the tap is being run by somebody based within the Stein's University and secondly somebody else is listening in and they can't be traced electronically. The involvement of the Stein's University leads Nessa to confront her brother and learn the price of her freedom, she also learns why her son was kidnapped. Meanwhile the quietly spoken Hugh Hayden-Hoyle is talking to all the key players and coming closer to discovering what is going on.

As the series approaches its conclusion this episode sees more questions answered and more secrets revealed; but not at too rapid a pace and the revelations are neither too obvious nor unbelievable; there are still some unknowns and Nessa still hasn't got her son back. There is somewhat less violence than previous episodes but that doesn't mean there is none; indeed the opening scene where the possibility of slightly rough sex turns into rape is quite disturbing. The acting continues to be top-notch, most notably from Maggie Gyllenhaal and Stephen Rea, Igal Naor's performance as the overbearing Shlomo is also rather fun. Overall this is a solid episode which progresses the plot nicely.

Commence!, 7 August 2014
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As this, the penultimate episode, opens Arby is driving Grant and Anton to a remote moorland he used to visit as a child, Jessica, who has Milner hostage, is trying to find them and Becky and Ian are trying to find Milner to tell her that Janus has a racial component. Over the course of the episode the various groups converge on the moorland and we learn just what Anton did to change Janus.

Things are nicely set up for the season finale in this episode. It is a little less tense and certainly less violent than previous episode; almost like the calm before the storm one is likely to get in the finale. It is good to see the protagonists, and antagonists, reunited and more importantly learn what Anton had done and see Milner's response when she learns. As one would expect the cast does a fine job and all fans of the series will have two questions on their minds when the episode ends… will the release of Russian Flu and Janus be stopped? And will there be another series?

The gripping story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, 5 August 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The name Osama Bin Laden didn't mean anything to most people before two hijacked aircraft brought down the twin towers of the World Trade Center on the Eleventh of September 2001; soon afterwards everybody knew his name and he was the most wanted man in the world: this is the story of how he was tracked down and ultimately killed.

We are introduced to protagonist Maya Lambert as she attends the brutal interrogation of a prisoner at a secret site in Pakistan. He doesn't talk during these sessions but is later tricked into giving the nom de guerre of the man working as a courier for Bin Laden. This name is corroborated by other sources and then the hunt is on to find out the man's true name and ultimately locate him. He is eventually found in a secure house in Pakistan. Surveillance indicates there are two other men there; one who never goes out, never talks to anybody who doesn't live in the house and never shows his face where it could be seen… Maya is convinced that this third man is Bin Laden. Months pass before the raid is given the go-ahead and there can't be many people who don't know how it ended.

While most people will know how this story began and how it ends it is interesting to learn what happened in between. Director Kathryn Bigelow brings a no-nonsense approach to the film which actually serve to keep the tension high… more than once moments of sudden dramatic action occur without and cues that something is going to happen. It also means that the film shows things in a surprisingly neutral manner; I suspect some people will see the opening scenes as showing people 'doing what had to be done' and others will see it as showing the evil of torture. At two and a half hours the film isn't rushed but at no time did I find myself growing bored. The whole cast put in a solid performance but it is Jessica Chastain, as Maya, who really stands out. Overall I found this to be a gripping thriller and certainly recommend watching it at least once.

The Siege (1998)
Terrorist strike the city of New York, 2 August 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the opening scenes we see news footage of the aftermath of an attack on US forces in the Middle East; the man believed responsible is then captured. The action then moves to New York City when a bus appears to have a bomb on board; police and FBI rush to the scene and discover the bomb is a fake. Anthony Hubbard; leader of the FBI anti-terror taskforce arrives at the scene and finds a CIA agent calling herself Elise Kraft also taking an interest. He isn't happy about her presence but inevitably they eventually end up working together when a second bus is hijacked and this time blown up by Middle Eastern suicide bombers. Clues are followed and it soon looks as if the threat has been eliminated but as the investigators celebrate another bomb goes off. Tensions mount and innocent Arab-Americans find themselves targeted by a frightened population; politicians feel the pressure to do something. There is talk of martial law but General William Devereaux counsels against it but after further attacks the army is ordered to move in. With the Army now controlling the streets and rounding up anybody who fits the profile of the bombers Hubbard struggles to find the last terrorist cell before the next atrocity.

When this was made the idea that foreign terrorists could successfully strike against the heart of America's biggest city seemed unlikely but watching this now it is impossible not to think of the events of 2001; especially as the New York skyline of the film includes the distinctive twin towers of the World Trade Center. Equally unlikely seeming at the time was the idea that the US would resort to extra-judicial kidnapping of suspects or torture but now these aspects of the film seem all too believable.

The drama is gripping and went in unexpected directions… I was expecting a routine action drama with the investigator looking for the terrorists without the added twist of introduction of martial law and the portrayal of the US Army as part of the problem rather than the solution. Denzel Washington dominates as Agent Hubbard and Bruce Willis is okay, playing somewhat against type, as Devereaux. Annette Bening is good as Kraft but some of her character's actions seem unlikely, Tony Shalhoub is also good as Hubbard's partner. The action scenes are exciting and well handled. Overall this is a decent drama although some may feel its politics are a bit too obvious… others may feel these sort of views need to be made clear.


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