Reviews written by registered user
martin-secker

9 reviews in total 
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98 out of 155 people found the following review useful:
London Masquerade, 29 November 2010
4/10

The movie had promise - directed by The Departed's writer William Monahan and starring an eclectic bunch of British stars Colin Farrell, Keira Knightly, Ray Winstone, David Thewlis and Anna Friel. Even Eddie Marsan, Stephen Graham and Ben Chaplin make appearances.

Unfortunately despite a snazzy score and a stylish flourish, this movie is nothing more than a collection of London gangster movie clichés and stereotypes with an obvious script written by an unauthentic source. The characters can all be labelled with a single word (villain, victim, druggie etc), bereft of any depth or colour.

Farrell plays Mitchell, fresh from prison and determined to go straight, within half-an-hour, he has been offered a choice of two jobs. One working as a debt collector for tough and possibly homosexual (who cares?) gangland boss (Winstone, who else) and the other protecting a damaged & shy actress (Knightly). Needless to say, Winstone doesn't take kindly to being refused and sets his sights on hurting Mitchell as revenge (hasn't he got better things to do?) The movie doesn't ring true at every juncture and the only pleasure the viewer grab, is when watching Thewlis's thinly veiled Withnail impression or with the music on show.

Do yourself a favour and watch Layer Cake instead.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hat's show-business, 10 December 2009
6/10

The problem here is not the story, the story has legs, no wonder it managed to attract an impressive, eclectic cast of talent. The problem isn't the cast, all roles filled to perfection (with exception to Melanie Griffith who is miscast as the dour, victimised wife). The problem is the flat, unambitious direction and editing.

The Hat Squad are introduced spectacularly, Nolte was obviously born to play this role. One of America's finest and under-appreciated character actors over the past 35 years, Nolte's performance deserves a better film. Chazz is also fine as the passive-aggressive Ellery. Madsen & Penn do well with little (but I wish they had more impact on the story, and given more dialogue).

The movie deserved flair, consistent editing (there must've been loads of scenes lost to the cutting room floor) and some strange ADR work. File this one under missed opportunity, a casual watch that passes without any truly memorable scenes, when it could've been a rival to L.A. Confidential had a different director been appointed.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Rushed Hour (and 39 minutes), 23 December 2008
3/10

This movie was fighting an uphill battle from the start - having a concrete release date fast approaching, losing Bryan Singer, now-established A-lister squabbling about character development, hefty studio interference, actor schedule clashes and a lacklustre script.

I don't blame Ratner, I'm sure he did the best he could with the time allowed. I don't blame the cast. The problem was with the script - it introduces too many characters without fleshing them out, leaving big characters out of the storyline (Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Mystique) and trying to be too big in scale. The beauty with Singer's X-Men is that he managed to make complex narratives accessible to the non-fans, he Ratner is forced to subliminally supply the viewer with rapid fire sequences that confuse and distract rather than endear. On the plus side, Jackman now owns the Wolverine character, Janssen is good as Jean Grey/Phoenix and Beast looks pitch-perfect.

All principal actors struggle in vain to sound more than cardboard characters from 1960's Star Trek - I feel most sorry for McKellan & Stewart who can do this stuff in their sleep. How come Halle Berry lost her accent? Was it to taxing? Rogue is forced to sit on the back burner. Cyclops, who was given a rough ride in X2, is dispatched all too quickly. Ben Foster (a talented actor) is given nothing to do as Archangel - stuck with the same facial expression in all of his three scenes. Many fans point the finger at Vinnie Jones - I thought he did very well with what he had - let's face it, there was no way the character could've been introduced to the screen without looking ridiculous - Juggernaut is not even given a death scene worthy of his introduction.

X2 remains one of the finest comic book adaptations to date, so it's a shame that such a groundbreaking trilogy is left to wither and die for the sake of the studio earning a quick buck.

Things That Go Bump In The Night, 4 September 2008
9/10

I first watched this movie as a young child and it was my introduction to Horror, it changed my view of films. Films were no longer filled by colourful animated characters or zany glove puppets. The world can be murky, where even the funny can be endangered. The movie is your archetypal 'Haunted House' movie. The type of film that explains why ghost trains were invented. The fear of the unknown, the fear of being watched, the fear of hidden passages.

A group of equally disparate and distant family members are gathered on a small island to hear the reading of wealthy, reclusive Uncle's last will and testament. Things take a turn for the worse when an inmate known as 'The Cat' escapes from the local institute, sending the destitute cast into panic.

Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard play a likable screen couple that the audience can believe in. Hope is the mouthy, witty and cowardly Wally who is appointed as guard to the eventual heiress. Threats come from moving wall panels, hidden passages behind bookcases, jealous relatives and 'The Cat.'

Superb entertainment.

"...maybe in the gutter is where we should be", 22 August 2008
9/10

There has been, throughout cinema history, some difficult, ugly subject matter committed to celluloid. Some subjects have been exploited for entertainment purposes, some of which have been grossly distorted to cheaply enhance the story. Mississippi Burning falls into neither camp, to question this movies subject, is to blindly deny that these atrocities ever took place. Alan Parker's engaging story is both respectful and non-judgemental.

Gene Hackman takes centre stage during a time where he found quality roles difficult to come by, his Rupert Anderson a dogged, experienced veteran Mississippian whose instincts and social skills are essential to the task in hand. Willem Dafoe's young G-man, brash and over-confident brings the authority in an interesting role reversal. McDormand is the heart and humanity, while Brad Dourif looks suitably gleeful despite being the devil (McDormand and Dourif later played husband & wife again in 1991's Hidden Agenda). The rest of the supporting cast are excellent including Gailard Sartain, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Tobin (Jigsaw) Bell and Michael Rooker playing an even more sadistic SOB than Henry Lee Lucas.

The story which does take dramatic licence but never loses it's nerve, held together expertly by Englishman Alan Parker. Parker is a Director who knows how to touch the darker recesses of the human condition. The cinematography is suitably Oscar-worthy. The subject matter may be too rich for some people but at it's core is a superb detective, crime movie that doesn't flinch away from atrocities nor embellish them. Mature, adult film-making at it's very best.

Cat Chaser (1989)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Misguided Thriller, 2 January 2008
5/10

It took many years before an Elmore Leonard book was given celluloid justice - Jackie Brown. However, this is a brave stab mainly thanks to an interesting cast, notably a sleazy Charles Durning in an unusual role.

It takes all of about five minutes to realise that this is not a Ferrara movie, the Direction is haphazard and uninspiring. Weller does his best but the character is so one-dimensional, he becomes a supporting character in his own movie. This movie has a lot of promise and deserves a revisit, casting maybe a George Clooney, Alec Baldwin or Val Kilmer in the Moran role.

File under forgettable Eighties thriller.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Busey's Frankenstein, 1 November 2007
6/10

This is a decent little thriller. Busey steals the show as he often does, managing here to evoke the memories of the Universal Horror creatures of the 1930/40, a lumbering oaf whom the audience has an empathy with. It is quite an accomplishment from Busey, as the premise is both ridiculous and unoriginal. McKean and Rogers are satisfactory as the put-upon couple who become the unwanted centre of Busey's jealousy and affection. It's a shame that Busey's once promising career soon went downhill, as he is a very good character actor. He'll be remembered for his bigger roles but I truly think this is his best performance.

The Chain (1996/I)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Gary Busey: The Movie, 1 November 2007
4/10

Somewhere down the line, Gary Busey turned from fantastic character actor starring in the likes of Big Wednesday, Straight Time and The Buddy Holly Story to playing wide-eyed bloated villains (Under Siege, Drop Zone) or D-List Action Leads (Bulletproof, Act Of Piracy). This movie falls into the latter category - The Chain is made by and for the Friday post-pub brigade, the acting is good, the action is ordinary and the storyline is unoriginal. Yet, it still entertains. Like Busey, the movie has an edgy charm, it would take a person with a heart of stone to not find Busey amusing. In short, 3 of four stars I've awarded this movie are for Busey, a single star for everything else.

Styx (2001) (V)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Decent, if you like Eighties Action B-Pictures, 26 October 2007
5/10

Okay, this isn't going to win any awards. However, it's not a bad piece of popcorn entertainment as long as you can ignore some glaring continuity errors and clunky dialogue. The lead performances are unusually strong Bryan Brown plays it just right, MacFadyen does a great scumbag impression while Weller adds gravitas to an unoriginal character. I hadn't seen Weller in anything for a few years and he looks very good for his age, the verbal sparring between Brown and himself are one of the highlights. In many ways, it reminded me of the John Flynn movies of the Eighties full of tough-talking, testosterone blokes, good action and risible dialogue.