‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Review

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Director Matthew Vaughn delivers another crazy, out of this world, action-packed film in the Kingsman franchise. Actors reprising their roles from the first film include Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Edward Holcroft, and Sophie Cookson. They are joined by newcomers: Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal and Jeff Bridges. Kingsman: The Golden Circle takes the Kingsman agents to the United States to join forces with Statesman after a ruthless crime syndicate known as “The Golden Circle” destroys the Kingsman’s headquarters. This film really starts off with a bang! With the first scene, Matthew Vaughn treats us with a car chase worthy of The Fast and the Furious franchise. The music is loud and crazy and fully conveys what is going on before the viewer’s eyes. The film maintains pretty quick pacing for the rest of the story. After meeting our villain, the viewers are led into the thick of the plot with the heroes journeying to the United States. Taron Egerton brings back all of Eggsy’s pizzazz from Kingsman: The Secret Service while also showing us that he is more mature and professional. Showing Eggsy’s character growth is a great choice by Vaughn because this rarely happens with characters in action franchises. The same goes for Mark Strong; we see a more emotional side of Merlin this go-around. Edward Holcroft, as Charlie Hesketh, is front and center during both the trailers, but I didn’t even recognize him. He plays the role of Poppy’s henchman well. It’s great that Vaughn is keeping with the mechanical appendage theme: Gazelle had her legs in the first film and Charlie has his “Winter Soldier” arm. The introduction of Statesman is hilarious and fun. Over the top, as always, Channing Tatum does a great job as Agent Tequila. He has a delightful Southern charm as well as a bad boy personality. The other Agents, Ginger Ale (Berry), Champagne “Champ” (Bridges), and Whiskey (Pascal), are also entertaining on screen. Of the Statesman, Agent Whiskey gets the most screen-time, and boy does he deliver. He is better than Indiana Jones with the whip and more versatile than Wonder Woman with the lasso. Speaking of which, Statesman has some cool weapons and technology. Everything was über American and fit perfectly with the Statesman theme. Their technology is actually how we get to have Colin Firth back as Harry Hart. I won’t spoil how it is accomplished, but it fits right into the craziness of this film and is explained very well. This film does come with a few negatives though. Julianne Moore is interesting as the main villain, Poppy, but she is never really a threat. Her plan is as silly and deadly as Richmond Valentine’s, however, Moore doesn’t command the screen in this film like Samuel L. Jackson did in the previous one. While Statesman is a great introduction to the series, we barely get time with the other agents. Channing Tatum is on all the marketing for the film, but his role is basically an extended cameo. I felt we should have had more time with them and less with Harry. Lastly, Vaughn makes some questionable choices with a few characters, but I don’t want to spoil anything. I give Kingsman: The Golden Circle a Decent 8.3/10. This is an insanely over-the-top thrill ride from start to finish, but it doesn’t grasp the same magic as the original. Hopefully, Vaughn can recapture it in the third installment.

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‘American Assassin’ Review

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American Assassin is an action thriller film directed by Michael Cuesta and based on Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel of the same name. The film stars Dylan O’Brien as Mitch Rapp, a civilian who turns to counter-terrorism after losing his fiancé during a terrorist attack on a beach. Mitch is soon discovered by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy who then assigns Mitch to Cold War veteran Stan Hurley to train. After joining Hurley’s Orion Team, a highly secretive organization supported by the CIA, but outside the Agency, Rapp must stop a mysterious operative, nicknamed “Ghost”, intent on starting a war in the Middle East. American Assassin is a fun action film with relatively quick pacing. The actors are quite solid in their roles and never take themselves too seriously. Dylan O’Brien is phenomenal as Mitch Rapp. It’s great that he’s gotten back into the swing of things after his accident a couple years back. He plays an action star very well and brings a great amount of conflict, hurt, and unpredictability that a character like Mitch needs to be believable. Michael Keaton and Sanaa Lathan also do a fine job as Stan Hurley and Irene Kennedy respectively. Their characters share a history that is alluded to but never fully explored. This leaves just enough mystery for the audience that can be further explored if any sequels are developed. The plot is pretty straightforward, but this does not hinder the film in the slightest. Even though you begin to realize where the film is going, you don’t quite know how you’re going to get there. This is primarily due to Mitch Rapp’s unpredictable nature. The fight choreography in the film was great. The use of mixed martial arts allowed for every fight scene to feel more gritty and realistic. This was especially apparent during Mitch’s confrontation with “Ghost” (Taylor Kitsch). The characters were not overly muscular and it made sense for them to exchange grapples and pins to win a fight for their life. Especially when the person they are fighting against also has guns and knives. The film’s training sequences were also interesting to watch but left me wanting more. There was no sense of time and were not really sure how long Mitch trained with the Orion Team. I give American Assassin a Decent 7.8/10. This was a great film for Dylan O’Brien to return the silver screen with. Fun, fast, and action-packed, I hope this film is successful enough to warrant a sequel. Afterall, Vince Flynn did write 11 other books.

Bond 25: Why Christopher Nolan Is The Director We Deserve And Need Right Now!

 

Nolan IMAXChristopher Nolan is what we would call a triple threat. He is an amazing writer, producer, and director. Looking at most of the films he’s been involved with over the past 15 years, all have received praise from both the critics and the fans. His movies are considered instant classics or cult classics. Bringing Nolan on to direct the next film in the James Bond franchise is, without a doubt, a slam-dunk. What Sam Mendes did with Skyfall and Spectre was great, but it is time to get a fresh take on the gentleman spy. Hiring Nolan to direct Bond 25 would benefit his career, the studios, and of course, the many fans of the series.

His Film Portfolio

Nolan TDKRChristopher Nolan has directed some great films. Both the critics and the fans enjoy his films. While some of his themes are consistent throughout his films, the films themselves are very different. He likes to work in various genres and time periods within the films he writes and directs. He started with the psychological thrillers: Memento and Insomnia. Then, he moved into the superhero genre, with The Dark Knight Trilogy, where Heath Ledger won his posthumous Academy Award for best supporting actor. Nolan had a mystery thriller in The Prestige, and then he ventured into the sci-fi realm with Inception and Interstellar. His most recent film, Dunkirk, was his first stab at a war film. A British spy film would be something new for him, and we now know that it’s something he is interested in doing, based on his interview with Playboy.

“A Bond movie, definitely…I’ve spoken to the producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson over the years. I deeply love the character, and I’m always excited to see what they do with it. Maybe one day that would work out. You’d have to be needed, if you know what I mean. It has to need reinvention; it has to need you. And they’re getting along very well.”

Academy Awards & Box Office

Nolan’s nine films have garnered a total of 26 Oscar nominations with seven wins. The Dark Knight won an academy award for best supporting actor, and best sound editing, but many thought it should have also won best picture at the 81st Academy Awards. Inception won big at the 83rd Academy Awards, taking home Oscars in the categories of cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects. Lastly, Interstellar took home an Academy Award for best visual effects at the 87th Academy Awards. His films have also grossed over $4.2 billion USD worldwide. He has yet to experience a “box office flop,” and at the rate he’s going, it doesn’t look like he ever will.

His Rotten Tomatoes Scores

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Speaking of critical praise, all of the films that Christopher Nolan has written or directed are certified “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes. Clearly, he knows how to speak to both critics and fans, as there is seems to be no disconnect between the groups on rating his films. The studio needs a director like that to carry on the James Bond franchise. Many moviegoers consider a film’s score on Rotten Tomatoes before deciding to go see it in theaters. Having a director like Christopher Nolan attached to a 007 film almost guarantees a large quantity of people will go see it.

The Daniel Craig Curse

Daniel Craig is universally loved as the best James Bond since Sean Connery. Yet, his 007 films have a strange pattern of approval in that every other film is not well received. When Casino Royale came out, everyone had high praise for the film and was excited about the new franchise, but when Quantum of Solace hit theaters, it was met with lukewarm reviews. The next film in the franchise, Skyfall, hit big, being the first of the 007 films to make over $1 billion USD. The latest film, Spectre, even though it made a lot of money, unfortunately, did not hit the billion-dollar mark, and was considered unable to capitalize on its potential. If the series continues with this trend, then Bond 25 should be a well-received film. Nolan would join the franchise during the trend’s upswing, gaining more attention from superstitious fans that have been following this well-known pattern in the series.

Hopefully, Christopher Nolan will decide to make Bond 25 his next film. It will be a change for him to take on a franchise that he did not start, but I believe he could handle it. Each new film in the series is a new mission, so even though Nolan would have to adhere to some of the continuity that was set up in the previous films, he has a lot of wiggle room to make it his own. I’m sure he would want to be involved in the writing of the script to make sure some of his ideas and themes are expressed. Also, I think he would add some of his regulars, including Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Caine, to the already stellar cast of the current franchise.

What are your thoughts on Christopher Nolan directing a James Bond film? Leave your thoughts below.

‘Skyfall’ Review

 

Man, who doesn’t love a good James Bond movie? I know I do! The good thing about Skyfall is that it’s a great James Bond movie. It is clearly the best one of the rebooted series and one of the best ones of the entire series. This film is, dare I say it, extraepic™. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. This was one of the best films that I had the pleasure to see this year. Right up there with The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers. Daniel Craig has his best performance yet as James Bond. We see him now as an older and experienced Bond who has grown tired of being a field agent. After being mistakenly shot on a mission he thought to be dead, but actually, he uses the time to live a life free of MI6. This is until an unseen foe begins to target M and he must return to active duty. I have to say it was great to see Bond struggle. We’ve never seen a Bond who wasn’t the best he could be. He clearly knows in the film that he is not the same man he used to be, he has lost something that made him the cold-blooded killer he was before. I can give nothing but praise to Craig as he was terrific and a treat to watch. Judi Dench was great also in her final appearance as M. The reason behind this is because of her macular degeneration. Still seeing her as the stubborn M was nice. The relationship between her character and Bond was something akin to a mother and son. It was clear how much they cared for each other even though they tried to hide it. The only sad part is that this was the last time we get to see them together on film. In possibly one of his best performances yet we get our creepy and insanely smart Bond villain Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem. His performance was nothing short of stunning. His character was just the villain Bond needed to make this movie great. He was a former agent of MI6 and knew all about M and what happened to Bond. He was also left to die on a mission, but through a miracle, he survived. His course for revenge was expertly planned and very well executed. The film also has other characters making their first appearances in this new series including Ms. Moneypenny, Q, and Gareth Mallory who becomes the new M. they are played by Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw, and Ralph Fiennes respectively. Each of their performances were on par with the great acting this film upheld. The film also has awe-inspiring locations that look beautiful on the silver screen. The is also the first film to talk about Bond’s past and we even learn his parent’s names. This was the perfect Bond film and was enjoyable from opening to close. With its great acting, superior locations, amazing story, and funny tidbits to older Bond films I give Skyfall an Excellent 10/10!