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The Sweeney (2012)
I had seen many clips of the classic legendary 1970s TV series starring John Thaw and Dennis Waterman, so a reboot film was an interesting concept, and the choice of leading actor was a good idea, so I hoped it would be worthwhile enough, despite mixed reviews. Basically slobbish, old style DI Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) and young protégé DC George Carter (Ben Drew, aka Plan B) are police officers working for the Flying Squad, they have unstable methods for catching criminals, this annoys Internal Affairs officer DCI Ivan Lewis (Underworld's Steven Mackintosh), but also Regan is having an affair with Lewis's estranged policewoman wife Nancy (Captain America's Hayley Atwell). Information about a planned robbery in a private bank is given to Regan, this ends up in carnage when Regan disobeys the orders of DCI Frank Haskins (Homeland's Damian Lewis) during the shoot-out in central London, following this he is stripped of his badge and briefly imprisoned. Regan suspected the robbery was carried out by his long-time adversary Francis Allen (Paul Anderson), but he has an alibi, evidence links violent Serbian criminal Makin Trebolt (Kevin Michaels) to the crime, the criminal kills Nancy, and Regan obtains a fake badge and illegal weapon to go after the thugs, some are caught and interrogated, and information is gathered that helps Carter gain his career back and have Regan pardoned. It finally comes to a car chase with Makin and guilty Allen being pursued by Regan and Carter, the vehicles crash, Makin is fatally wounded by Carter by gunshot, while Allen is heavily injured, with Regan approaching and at gunpoint he says to him his iconic catchphrase, "You're nicked!", in the end the Flying Squad is reinstated, with Regan and Carter walking away to solve their next crime. Also starring Lock, Stock and Two Barrels' Alan Ford as Harry, Caroline Chikezie as DC Kara Clarke, Downton Abbey's Allen Leech as DC Simon Ellis, Sleepy Hollow's Steven Waddington as DC Nathan Miller and EastEnders' Kara Tointon as Megan Barret. Winstone is indeed the right man to be the gritty character Thaw was before him, with some extra swearing of course, and Drew does alright as an actor rather than a rapper, I could not keep up with much of the story to be honest, but it doesn't matter, the fight, guns shooting and chase sequences make up for it, especially the final sequence in the caravan park, with bits and pieces filmed and performed by the Top Gear team, as for the film in whole, it's not such a bad crime thriller. Okay!
Le jour se lève (1939)
Le Jour se Lève (Daybreak)
I found this French film in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, it was rated very well and the plot sounded good, so I was looking forward to what would hopefully be a good foreign language film, directed by Marcel Carné (Les Enfants du Paradis). Basically factory worker François (Jean Gabin) has shot and killed M. Valentin (Jules Berry), and following this he has locked himself in his guest house room on the top floor of the building with many flights of stairs, the police soon arrive to arrest him, they fail to shoot their way into the room as François has barricaded the door. In a series of flashbacks, occasionally returning to the present to see his attempts to avoid being caught, it is revealed François had been having a relationship with both naive floral shop worker Françoise (Jacqueline Laurent) and more experienced performing assistant Clara (Arletty), who until meeting him was working with Valentin for his performing dog act. Valentin is manipulative and had also become involved with both women, and becoming jealous of François, as a constant liar he even tries to convince his foe that he was Françoise's father, but in fact both she and François were raised in orphanages. The rivalry between the two men eventually leads them to the guest house, Valentin confronts him with a gun, and in the tussle between them François grabs the weapon and fires, this is what has lead to the events of the present. As he continues to protect himself in the room François continually chain smokes with nerves, he has become delirious having learnt of his plight, before two police officers throw tear gas grenades into the room François consumed by despair shoots himself in the heart, the film ends with his lifeless body on the floor and gas filling the room, and the alarm sounds to announce it is morning. Also starring René Génin as Concierge, Mady Berry as Concierge's wife, Bernard Blier as Gaston and Marcel Pérès as Paulo. Gabin certainly exudes existential despair as the man who has unintentionally and sympathetically got himself into trouble, Berry is a terrific villain as the deceptive entertainment performer who tries to get one over his rival and treat his women like possessions, while Arletty is as loathsome as the showgirl, and Laurent is fine as the innocent woman stuck in between. It has moments of suitable claustrophobia, it works well as a tragic story filled with false love and a man breaking down into complete sorrow, it is written well and it has many interesting moments, a worthwhile crime melodrama. Vey good!
I first heard about this film when I found out the leading star was nominated Best Actress, then I heard about the plot line and that it was based on fact, so I was definitely up for seeing how it would be, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (The Young Victoria, Dallas Buyers Club). Based on the true story, set in 1995, Cheryl Strayed (Oscar, BAFTA and Oscar winning Reese Witherspoon) has ended her marriage with husband Paul (Thomas Sadoski) after their relationship broke down, her mother Barbara "Bobbi" (Oscar nominated Laura Dern) died, and she had years filled with reckless, self-destructive behaviour, with all hope lost she makes a rash decision to get away from everything. With absolutely no experience, only driven by sheer determination to finish, Cheryl stocks up a backpack with camping equipment for a long trip, she plans to hike the 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. During the journey the film has many flashbacks going back to Cheryl's life during childhood and as a teenager, the events that lead to the breakdown of her marriage, the death of her mother and her drug abuse and frequent sex with many men. Cheryl's hike is seen in chronological order, along the journey she occasionally comes into contact with fellow hikers and people driving near to the route, she gains serious injuries and suffers great pain during it, but in the end Cheryl rediscovers and heals herself, finding newfound strength and resolution. Also starring Keene McRae as Leif, Michiel Huisman as Jonathan, Lost's W. Earl Brown as Frank, Gaby Hoffmann as Aimee, Kevin Rankin as Greg, Brian Van Holt as Ranger and the real Cheryl Strayed makes a cameo as the Woman in a Truck. Witherspoon gives a very good performance as the real life woman who goes against the odds, experiencing terror, near-madness, pain and pleasure during a long journey of self-discovery, in the flashback scenes Dern is also good as her mother, the mix of non-linear flashbacks and the chronological hiking is mixed in places, the hiking is ultimately what you pay attention to most, but you absolutely root for the leading character to finish her journey, all in all it is an interesting biographical drama. Good!
I saw the trailer for this film and thought it looked good and unusually dark, I liked the fact that the star of Spider-Man was getting a more leading role also, and with award nominations and high praise from critics for it I knew it was a must see. Basically nineteen year old Andrew Neiman (Rabbit Hole's Miles Teller) attends the prestigious Shaffer Conservatory music school as a first-year jazz student, his skill is drumming, he inspires to be a great drummer like Buddy Rich, and one day he gains the attention of respected professor and conductor Terrence Fletcher (Golden Globe winning, and Oscar and BAFTA nominated J.K. Simmons), only for him leave the room with no word. Andrew elsewhere olives with his father Jim (Aliens' Paul Reiser) and they often go to the cinema, it is there he is often served by college student Nicole (Melissa Benoist), and he asks her out and they start dating, and not long later Andrew is approached by Fletcher, he is accepted into his band as an alternative for core drummer Carl Tanner (Nate Lang). Andrew arrives early to his first session, Fletcher arrives and the class practise the Hank Levy piece "Whiplash", it is during this that Andrew sees what he is getting himself, as Fletcher is abusive towards the students, mocking and insulting, and when he hears instruments off tune or rhythm off tempo he will hurl a chair, slap and berate. Andrew is determined to impress Fletcher, so he practises constantly at home with his drum kit, to the point where his hands bleed due to sores from the drumsticks, and he breaks up with Nicole thinking she will distract him, and next Andrew attends a local jazz competition, with a misplaced music sheet he claims he can play "Whiplash" from memory and he is promoted to main drummer, however core drummer Ryan (Austin Stowell) from a former class replaces him and he is demoted to alternative. In a following class session Fletcher tearfully talks about talented former student Sean Casey who has died in a car accident, after this the band rehearses Juan Tizol piece "Caravan", but Carl struggles with tempo, so Fletcher keeps him, Andrew and Ryan in the classroom for several hours until they can perfect their playing, Fletcher finally gives core drummer position to Andrew. Andrew makes his way to a competition, but problems arise as first the bus he is on breaks down, so he rents a car determined to make the performance, arriving late he is kicked out by Fletcher for forgetting his drumsticks, Andrew drives back to the car rental office to retrieve them, speeding back his car is hit by a truck, he survives the accident and crawls from the wreckage badly injured covered in spots of blood, he arrives on stage but is unable to play properly, Fletcher tells him he is "done", and Andre attacks him in front of the audience. Andrew is expelled from Shaffer Conservatory music school, a lawyer representing the parents of Sean Casey contacts and explains that Sean hanged himself after suffering severe anxiety and depression, Fletcher's abusive methods are being blamed, Sean's parents want to stop him teaching, Andrew testifies and Fletcher is fired. Months later Andrew sees Fletcher performing in a club, they drink together and Fletcher explains his behaviour, he wants to achieve greatness which is why he pushes his students beyond expectations, he invites Andrew to join his band to perform at a festival concert, Andrew agrees and wants to invite Nicole, but she reveals she has a new boyfriend and cannot come. On stage before the performance, Fletcher tells Andrew he knows he testified against him, the band then begin playing a piece Andrew does not have the music sheet of, leaving him humiliated on stage as he tries to keep up with the tempo. But as Fletcher makes a speech Andrew interrupts with his drumming and he begins playing "Caravan", he cues the rest of the band to play along and Fletcher follows suit, Andrew continues an extravagant dumb solo, playing non-stop, Fletcher is first angry, but during the play of "Whiplash" he supports him throughout, and when Andrew finishes he finally gets a nod of approval from Fletcher. Also starring Chris Mulkey as Uncle Frank and Damon Gupton as Mr. Kramer. Teller proves a fantastic newcomer as the student who will not give up on his drummer dreams and making an impression to his teacher, but for me the film absolutely belongs to Simmons who is a sensational tour de force as the foul-mouthed maestro who thinks nothing of bringing his students to literal bloodshed to make the perfect music, the duo work fabulously against each other, I agree Reiser could have had a bit more to do, but he cannot stand up against the other two. This gives the often made "inspirational teacher" plot a good kick in the face, it's like a cross between School of Rock and Full Metal Jacket, with a drillmaster like composer getting the head of the hero drummer, it is a great combination of terrific music pieces, bad language and blistering mind games and a marvellous script, it will keep you gripped all the way to the showy ending, I cannot say enough much I loved this film, an exceptional music drama. It is nominated the Oscars for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published for Damien Chazelle, Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing, and it is nominated the BAFTAs for Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Sound and the David Lean Award for Direction for Damien Chazelle. Outstanding!
I saw the trailer for this sports themed film, it definitely looked like something I would like, and I was fascinated by the comedy star from The 40 Year Old Virgin playing a serious role, and with Oscar buzz I went to see it, from Oscar nominated director Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball). Based on true events, Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) is invited by eccentric multi-millionaire heir John du Pont (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Steve Carell) to help form a team to train for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he will move on to the du Pont estate and use his new state-of-the-art training facility. Schultz jumps at the opportunity hoping to focus on his training, to regain his former fame and glory, and finally step out of the shadow of his well-respected brother David 'Dave' Schultz (Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated Mark Ruffalo). Backing Schultz's bid for Gold and driven by hidden needs, du Pont sees this opportunity as the chance to "coach" a team of world-class wrestlers, "Team Foxcatcher", to become elusively respected by his peers, and more importantly his disapproving mother Jean (Vanessa Redgrave). Mark is flattered by the attention being gained for his work, and he is entranced by the majestic world in which du Pont lives, seeing his benefactor as a father figure, and growing increasingly dependent on his approval. The changing personality of du Pont sees him initially supportive towards Mark at first, but then this turns and he begins to lure him into an unhealthy lifestyle threatening to undermine his training, and eventually du Pont's behaviour becomes erratic as he plays cruel psychological games with him and the athlete's already shaky self-esteem becomes more eroded. Later Dave becomes the fixation for du Pont, he ignores the lacking confidence of both him and Mark, these are things he knows that money cannot buy, the increasing paranoia and alienation toward the brothers follows the trio all the way to the big sporting events. In the end the story of the three men propels to an unexpected and tragic conclusion no-one could have foreseen, where years later du Pont drives to Dave's home, and with no real explanation du Pont shoots Dave at close range three times and drives off, Dave dies in the arms of his wife Nancy (Sienna Miller), the end sees Mark competing in a cage fighter. The closing text tells that Dave was posthumously inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame, he is survived by two children, Mark gave up professional wrestling to become a teacher, du Pont was found guilty of being mentally ill and third degree murder, he was named richest tried murderer in America, he died of natural causes in 2010 whilst in prison. Also starring Anthony Michael Hall as Jack, Guy Boyd as Henry Beck, Brett Rice as Fred Cole and Jackson Frazer as Alexander Schultz. Carell is almost unrecognisable behind the brilliant makeup as the unattractive, twisted and weird sponsor and control freak to the sportsmen, Ruffalo is terrific as the athlete who he switches the attention of later, and Tatum is good as the not too bright unappreciated fighter who wants to prove himself. I am firstly going to say that I watched this film all the way through, to be absolutely honest, it is not completely my kind of thing, I found it a bit too talkative and not too much sport, the lack of music certainly makes that obvious, but it certainly works as a psychological game of wits, and you cannot deny the fantastic performances, a watchable drama based on a true story. It is nominated the Oscars for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and it was nominated the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama. Very good!
I never saw The League of Gentlemen, I have only ever seen bits and pieces of it, so I decided I would give the same stars and writers, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, a chance in this new series. Basically the series is set in different parts of England and revolves are five different character story lines: serial killer-obsessed man-child David Sowerbutts (Pemberton) who still lives with his mother Maureen (Shearsmith); embittered one-handed children's entertainer Mr. Jelly (Shearsmith), blind millionaire Oscar Lomax (Pemberton) who collects Beanie Baby stuffed toy animals, midwife Joy Aston (Dawn French) who treats a practise baby doll as if was a real child, and (for the first series) pantomime dwarf Robert Greenspan (Jason Tompkins) in love with his Snow White who has the power of telekinesis. The five characters are connected by a mysterious blackmailer, they are all brought together by a message, and then they find out they were all once in the same institute under the watch of Edwina Kenchington (Eileen Atkins) for their conditions, the second series and Halloween special follow their exploits after as Grace Andrews (Imelda Staunton) tries to bring most of them together as part of a dark conspiracy plot. Also starring Daniel Kaluuya as Tealeaf, Daisy Haggard as Debbie, Lisa Hammond as Kerry, Daniel Ings as Kelvin, Mark Bonnar as Detective Finney, Adrian Scarborough as Mr. Jolly, Miranda's James Holmes as Simon, Christopher Biggins, David Bamber as Robin, Miranda's Dominic Coleman as Colin, EastEnders' Natalie Cassidy as Lorraine, Mark Gatiss as Jason Griffin, Richard Bacon as Interviewer, John Landis as Director, Andi Osho as Registrar and Katherine Parkinson as Fiona. The characters all have their amusing quirks and interesting individual story lines, especially Mr. Jelly and Oscar Lomax, Shearsmith and Pemberton are fantastic playing their numerous, French is almost terrifying in her part, Staunton is creepy as the secret organisation leader and the other supporting cast members do well, the interconnecting things going on work and come together well, it is both dark and funny, a terrific black comedy mystery psychological thriller. Very good!
Roald Dahl's Esio Trot (2015)
Roald Dahl's Esio Trot
I only know the really obvious works of Roald Dahl, i.e. James and the Giant Peach, Willy Wonka, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, The Witches and Matilda, so when I saw this TV made film was coming to television at Christmas time, and the two cast members in it, I was most looking forward to it, written by Richard Curtis. Basically lonely ageing bachelor Mr. Hoppy (Dustin Hoffman) lives in a London flat, he has two loves in his life, the garden on his balcony, and the widow who lives in the flat below him, Mrs. Silver (Dame Judi Dench), the only time he usually sees her up close or talks to her is going in the elevator, but over the years he has always been too shy to express his feelings for her. Mr. Hoppy tries to tell her sometimes from his balcony, but she is too fond of her new tortoise Archie to respond, and his opposite neighbour Mr. Pringle (About Time's Richard Cordery) is just a massive bore, too focused on talking about himself. But Mr. Hoppy sees an opportunity to make Mrs. Silver happy and show how much he cares, in conversation she tells how she wishes her tortoise would grow bigger, he convinces her that he knows a Bedoiun chant that if she speaks it will make her tortoise grow bigger within a month, she says if that happens she will be eternally grateful to him. Next day Mr. Hoppy hatches a secret plan, he buys dozens of tortoises, he hears Mrs. Silver read the chant he gives her, Esio Trot ("tortoise" spelt backwards), with the help of a special fishing rod he creates he swaps Archie for one ever so slightly bigger tortoise, while Mrs. Silver is away, when returns she is overjoyed to see that this chant is working. As the gradual "growing" of the tortoise continues, Mr. Hoppy and Mrs. Silver talk much more often from their balconies, Mr. Pringle is the one who helps them get together for dinner, but the neighbours do not have much opportunity to talk while he is being boorish, and worse comes when it looks like Mr. Pringle is trying to win her affections, Mr. Hoppy is almost about to give up his plan, but she continues to be happy with her "growing" tortoise, so he continues. It comes to the point when, after a month of the secret swapping, the tortoise in its box has become so big it can no longer fit through the doors of its house, Mrs. Silver is so happy that she invites Mr. Hoppy to come to her flat to celebrate, Mr. Hoppy excited rushes downstairs, and unknowingly leaves his door open for the real tortoise Archie to escape, just as Mr. Hoppy proposes marriage to Mrs. Silver, Mr. Pringle knocks and shows Archie was wandering around, Mr. Hoppy's plan is rumbled. Thinking he no longer can win the heart of Mrs. Silver, Mr. Hoppy returns all the tortoises to the pet shop and sits alone and crushed in his flat, finding two tortoises left behind hiding he gives them to the children of his neighbour, the Narrator (James Corden), telling the whole story to him, he understands and feels for Mr. Hoppy, maybe there will be no happy ending in this story. However, Mrs. Silver knocks on Mr. Hoppy's door, firstly to tell him that she has no interest in Mr. Pringle, he is such a bore, and secondly to tell him that, in fact, she has had feelings for him for the many years that have lived opposite each other, and she answers his earlier proposal question with a "yes", a few weeks later they are married and live happily ever after. Also starring Big School's Jimmy Akingbola as Keen Pet Shop Keeper, Psychoville's Lisa Hammond as Mrs. Desmond and Derek's Salo Gardner as Mr. Mavrokoukoudopolous. Hoffman is fantastic being the polite and longing neighbour, Dench is sweet as the woman who loves her tortoise and maybe has affection for her neighbour also, the two are perfectly cast, the way this film is made perfectly encapsulates the feel of Roald Dahl stories that have gone before, the characters are great, the story is simple, funny and sweet, it is just a must see family treat, a fabulous romantic comedy. Very good!
That Day We Sang (2014)
That Day We Sang
I saw this TV made film that would be on at Christmas talked about on The Graham Norton Show, I had not seen much of the written or directed work of Victoria Wood before, so I was interested to try this film based on her stage musical. Basically set in 1969, a televised reunion for the choir who made a record of 'Nymphs and Shepherds, Come Away' as children thirty years ago is taking place at the Manchester Free Trade hall, and insurance salesman Jimmy 'Tubby' Baker (Michael Ball) and secretary Enid (Imelda Staunton) are among those meeting. Snobbish organiser Frank (Conleth Hill) and his wife try to impress Tubby and Enid by taking them to the Berni Inn, they react against them and are drawn together, he wants to date her, but she is having an affair with her married boss believing he will leave his wife for her. Tubby recalls his childhood, as Young Jimmy (Harvey Chaisty) his singing in the choir was disapproved by his widowed mother, he was only able to take part because of Bible-quoting Great War veteran, crippled Mr Kirkby (Big School's Daniel Rigby) and assistant to choir mistress Gertrude Riall (Dorothy Atkinson). Tubby has recently read the words of his younger self's book, where he was more bold, he now believes he should take a leaf out of this and be more determined, to convince Enid that her lover will never leave his wife for her and that they are made for each other, years after that day when they sang, and in the end they do finally embrace, in song and with a loving kiss. Also starring Sophie Thompson as Dorothy, Jessica Gunning as Pauline, Lyndsey Marshal as Sal, Malcolm Sinclair as Sir Hamilton Harty, Dad's Army's Ian Lavender as Commissionaire and Jessica Casby as Young Enid. Ball being a stage actor manages is a natural for the leading role singing his way and being a nice man, Staunton who I know has been in musicals like Sweeney Todd also does well singing her way through and being likable, I admit the story is a little slow in places, especially the build up to the romance, but the songs help it flow, and it is charming enough to enjoy, not a bad musical comedy. Worth watching!
The Bay (2012)
I was surprised when I saw this scary movie was directed by Barry Levinson (Diner, The Natural; Good Morning, Vietnam, Rain Man), the description for it sounded good, and it was rated well by critics, so I was looking forward to whatever it had to offer. Basically the film opens explaining that the footage was confiscated by the U.S. government until an anonymous source leaked the footage for the entire world to see. On July 4th 2009, Independence Day, a seaside town in Claridge, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay, thrives on water and is ready to celebrate the annual Crab Festival. But two researchers find the water has a staggering level of toxicity, Mayor Stockman (Frank Deal) is alerted, but he refuses to take action fearing it will cause a panic, and the result is a deadly plague being unleashed. The outbreak is thought to have been caused by a combination of agricultural pesticides, random pollutants, and steroids-in-chicken-manure that have been dumped into the bay, whatever it is it has turned humans into hosts for a deadly, mutant breed of the parasite Cymothoa exigua, i.e. parasitic crustacean isopods. The creatures start infecting townspeople one by one, several stories are seen as the overwhelming chaos takes over, particularly local young inexperienced news reporter Donna Thompson (Kether Donohue) and her cameraman, who were reporting on the 4th of July festivities , she is also explaining the occurrences in an off-screen personal recording. Other stories seen include two oceanographers who first discovered the parasites, two police officers on duty investigating the residential area, a young unsuspecting couple swimming in the lake, a teenage girl sending a desperate message to a friend on FaceTime, Dr. Jack Abrams (Stephen Kunken) informing the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) of the developing situation at the local hospital, and a young married couple with an infant aboard sailing on a vessel toward the family home, unaware of the horrific unfolding events on the mainland. Also starring Will Rogers as Alex, The Cabin in the Woods' Kristen Connolly as Stephanie, Argo's Christopher Denham as Sam, Nansi Aluka as Jaquline, Kimberly Campbell as Nurse Rebecca, Beckett Clayton-Luce as Charles and Dave Hager as Fisher Jerry. The combination of "found footage" from news broadcasts, phone cameras, Skype, CCTV and webcam, accompanied by narration of the young newscaster, makes for an interesting take on the scary movie genre, you could call it a cross between Paranormal Activity and Jaws, and of course the special effects make up and little CGI to bring the isopods and their hideous body eating antic to life is fantastic, it is scary to think that isopods are real, it is well put together and definitely gives you the jitters, a terrific horror thriller. Very good!
Taken 3 (2014)
The first film is always going to be the best one, the second film was almost a rehash of the previous, but I was definitely going to see a third film, even if the format had changed, directed by Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3, Colombiana, Taken 2). Basically ex-government operative Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has returned to a seemingly peaceful life, he briefly visits his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), but his ex-wife Lenore St. John (Famke Janssen) tells that she and husband Stuart (Dougray Scott) are having marital problems, she has rekindled feelings for Bryan, but he refuses to become involved while she is married, and later Stuart warns him to stay away from her. The next day Lenore texts Bryan to meet her, he agrees, but upon returning to his apartment he discovers Lenore's body, and almost immediately the Los Angeles Police Department arrive to arrest him on suspicion of her murder, but Bryan manages to escape and goes on the run, while also investigating the homicide, and who has set him up for murder. LAPD Inspector Franck Dotzler (Forest Whitaker) is heading the manhunt for Bryan, he meanwhile goes to a secure location recovers weapons and electronics, then retraces Lenore's steps prior to her murder, and at a convenience store he watches surveillance footage showing Lenore abducted by unidentified men, LAPD detectives then arrive, and he allows them to arrest him, only to commandeer the police car and access the LAPD's vehicle laptop computer system to analyse information. Having previously spoken to Kim on the phone, telling her first that her mother's death and that he did not kill her, Bryan meets Kim on her college campus, removing an LAPD surveillance bug she was unaware of, she tells him of Stuart having bodyguards, and after getting out he abducts and interrogates Stuart, he reveals being in debt to ex-KGB Spetsnaz and Afghan War veteran operative Oleg Malankov (Sam Spruell), this is the probable motive for Lenore's murder. With the help of his former CIA colleagues, including Sam (Leland Orser) and (Mark) Casey (Jonathan 'Jon' Gries), and a reluctant Stuart, Bryan gains entry into Malankov's heavily-guarded suite, after eliminating the guards he mortally wounds Malankov, but he says Stuart has played both men against each other, Stuart meanwhile shoots Sam and abducts Kim, intending to escape with the 12 million dollars from Lenore's life insurance policy. Bryan chases Stuart to the airport, he disables the plane as it is about to takeoff, Bryan overpowers Stuart and tells him he will spend time in prison for his involvement in Lenore's murder, and he says when he gets out he will come looking for him, in the end Stuart is arrested, Dotzler clears Bryan, and Kim reveals she is pregnant, and will call the baby Lenore after her mother. Also starring Jonny Weston as Jimmy and Dylan Bruno as Smith. Neeson still packs a punch playing the man with a "particular set of skills", and Whitaker does alright as the leading detective trying to catch up with him, the twist in the story here is that no-one is "taken", I suppose it is more the concept of life is taken and the filmmakers didn't want to be repetitive, the problem is the change in concept doesn't completely work, there are just enough over the top crashing and fight sequences to savour, and the chases keep it going, but I agree with critics it is a little bland, a little "seen it before", but for fans of the series it's not the most terrible thriller, not a bad action drama. Okay!