Category Archives: Thriller

REVIEW: “ALL THE OLD KNIVES”

“All the Old Knives” is a romantic spy thriller directed by Janus Metz, based on the book by Olen Steinhausen about romantically involved CIA agents looking back at a mission that went wrong in a big way.

The story is set eight years after the 2012 hijacking of Royal Jordanian Flight 127 and the CIA’s mishandling of it, leading to the deaths of the passengers, the terrorists, and an agent who was onboard. The Vienna-based investigating team, made up of Henry Pelham (Chris Pine), Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton), Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce), Ernst Pul (Jonjo O’Neill), Leila Maloof (Ahd), Owen Lassiter (David Dawson), and their supervisor Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne), are initially clueless. Believing the terrorists had inside help, and only after the capture of the “mastermind” of the terrorist attack, Ilyas Shushani (Orli Shuka), is Henry is sent to interrogate now former agent Celia, with whom he suspects provided information to the hijackers. The story is them rehashing not only the entire day of the attack, but their relationship at the time as well which is when they (and we) realize that the truth is far more twisted than anyone initially thought.

ALL THE OLD KNIVES

One would almost think this would be an action filled, Bond-esque type thriller, but this isn’t that in the slightest. All the Old Knives keeps the suspense going through the conversation and keeps you wondering what happened, who did it – and why. There’s a deliberate omission of details to keep you guessing along about what’s coming next. Conversations that happened in the past are run in together with parallel conversations of the present to help accentuate the impact of certain revelations. Pay attention as well, to the visual clues being dropped, as they all take you down the traveled path of the story at hand with seemingly at every moment a twist is thrown in. We watch as the room gets smaller and smaller, making it almost impossible for the answer to escape as well as asking the bigger question – when it all comes down to it in the end, who do you trust?

ALL THE OLD KNIVES

While the scenery is a beautiful backdrop in the entire film, most especially the restaurant scene where the story unfolds, the film is held together by it’s two leads Pine and Newton. They are the glue that keep it pasted together, though at times to be fair, barely so as sometimes they seem to work with their characters chemistry, and other times they just seem to be working their characters. As well, with a supporting cast that includes Laurence Fishburne and Jonathan Pryce playing characters that are certainly within their element, Henry’s interrogation of Bill in a London pub, is devoid of any dramatic heft. Pryce, for his part, makes a spirited effort to give these scenes some depth, but the material just isn’t there. Fishburne barely plays a factor as he might have five minutes worth of screen time, which befuddles the mind as why wouldn’t you want to use someone of Fishburne’s caliber throughout the film to elevate it more. The other supporting actors are all given the briefest of moments, even when it’s revealed that Lassiter, David Dawson’s character, committed suicide over the whole fiasco.

So with struggles to streamline the story and stumbles a bit with it’s own chronology that’s likely better in the book, though it still carves out a decent enough spy-game intrigue.

Grade: C

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Review Screening: Friday April 1, 2022 ~Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR and Amazon Prime

Amazon Studios will release ALL THE OLD KNIVES in select theaters and globally on Prime Video on April 8, 2022.

SXSW REVIEW: “THE COW” (2022)

Winona Ryder is truly at some of her best here in Eli Horowitz’s “THE COW“. Along with Dermot Mulroney in this rather fun “genetic” little mystery thriller, that twists along to an ending you’d never quite think of. While it’s not without it’s problems, it is still just simple fun.

With a film title has nothing to do with the animal it’s named after, the story follows Kath (Winona Ryder), and her boyfriend Max (John Gallagher Jr.), as they arrive at a remote cabin in the redwoods and mysteriously discover it already occupied by a younger couple, one Greta (Brianne Tju) and one Al (Owen Teague). The question of why is answered quickly as it’s clear the rental has already been double-booked, so neither couple has anywhere else to go, with Kath and Max being quickly invited to stay ‘just one night’.

And the mystery only deepens when she wakes up to find out Max just up and disappeared with Greta, and a broken up Al is the one to tell her the next day. Kath goes home, but randomly becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of their sudden breakup – but will learning the truth be worse than she could ever imagine? Yes, yes it can. See what we end up finding out is the ever so important backstory. Kath is older than Max, by 10 to 15 years, as well, Kath is insecure about herself, and being in a relationship with a younger man has made her even more doubtful of her attractiveness, as we see her examining the wrinkles on her face.  On the other hand, Max isn’t very mature for his age, doesn’t even do the most basic of things like drive, and seems to be out of place at a dinner party with Kath’s friends. Turns out, the trip to the woods was an attempt by Max to keep Kath showing her he CAN be the guy for her, and for Kath to keep Max, showing him that she can be adventurous. Which speaks volumes about what is to happen later as she ends up meeting Nicholas (Dermot Mulroney), the man who actually owns the cabin, on her attempt to find out who Greta really is. While similar in age, and while he might be somewhat of a recluse, Nicholas clearly also has his life together, although as we soon find out, not in exactly the way we thought he did. 

While the film continues on with twists and turns, not all of them come off as one is not sure if this film is every going to go horror on them, or continue on the path it seems to be heading of everything relying on that one fateful night. Honestly, all the credit here goes to Ryder for pulling the bizarre middle and ending twist off, as without her, Tju and Teague, making those twists from left field that keep you engaged in this mystery ride along with Kath wouldn’t be anywhere near as enjoyable. That they can keep you on your toes guessing, even questioning her end-result intentions till the very last moment, is the point of all of it. Without them, this would not be the clever thriller that it is – even with it’s faults on display – they help pull it off.

Having just been picked up by Vertical Entertainment, the film is set to release later this year. Don’t miss it.

Grade: C+

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REVIEW: “FRESH” (2022) Searchlight Pictures

One thing not to be expected upon watching the opening scene of “FRESH”, director Mimi Cave‘s new horror comedy thriller, is laughing your head off at said opening scene with Chad (Brett Dier) and Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), while watching them on a date. Chad is the guy you never want to find yourself on a date with, but it’s hilarity like this that makes you think this is just going to be a harmless little rom-com. Well you will have sorely mis-judged your expectations because you are about to be taken on a fantastic wild little ride that you will not soon forget.

As we’ve now met Noa on the date from hell, we soon find out she is just one of the many young, single women who has been looking for love in all the wrong places, like dating apps, hence the terrible date with Chad. So when she randomly meets the charming and very good looking Steve (Sebastian Stan), in the produce section at the local grocers, she falls for his charming ‘cotton candy grapes’ line and ends up exchanging numbers. From there, things move fast, a little too fast if you were to ask her best friend Molly (Jojo T. Gibbs), as Noa ends up throwing caution to the wind and goes on a weekend getaway with Steve. But I mean who wouldn’t – honestly, they have great chemistry and he is fun, different and yes, re-‘Fresh’ing.

Honestly, not knowing much about this film is how you should go into watching this one, as it made me feel glad to not have anything revealed to me beforehand. Watching everything unfold as it does and finding out who Steve really is, is just something that needs to be as savoured as the meals Steve prepares for Noa. But be prepared as this skillfully directed film has a plot that is as diabolical as they come and those meals Steve cooks, can be profoundly disturbing. But perhaps the best part is as psychologically terrifying as this one is, it barely touches on any in your face violence or gore, but instead its the sheer psychological terror of each minute, that keeps you entirely focused on what’s happening in front of you. And mind you, some of the things happening will chill you to your core as the subject matter is grisly, but in mostly in the thought of it all because it is so realistically handled by Cave’s direction here as it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Fresh can be genuinely disturbing and unsettling, at times even nauseating, but you will also find that you can’t look away for a second and this is mostly because of two factors, those being Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones. They are insanely good here as Stan is so charming, yet so dark and mysterious, turning into almost repellant, and yet feels like he is what you would get if swiped right on a hot Tinder version of Hannibal Lecter, because yes, we would swipe right on him. Edgar-Jones, plays her persona more than just convincing as she uses reverse psychology on Steve and does it so competently and never gives into the victim cliché. And there is a dance scene that should just not be missed by anyone and this whole film should truly fall into cult classic heaven. Even the supporting cast comes through here adding belief into each scene. While I admit it’s one fault is the ending felt a bit rushed and cheesy, but with the first 30 mins getting you in the mood before revealing the big “surprise” twist, it really doesn’t matter.

Sebastian Stan and Daisy Edgar-Jones in the film FRESH. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

But again, I can’t stress enough to go into this as blind as possible but also be prepared for what’s to come as It can get quite unnerving and rather intense at times, but in oddly all the right ways. Here is what I know and what will stick with me for some time – Mama Rosa’s meatballs will never look the same for me for some time to come, and after watching this and The Tinder Swindler, I am never dating again – well that is until ‘Steve’ pops up on my phone.

Grade: B

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“FRESH” premieres exclusively Hulu Friday, March 4, 2022

REVIEW: “SCREAM” (2022) Paramount Pictures / Spyglass Media Group

Ring..Ring.. Ring..Ring.. Yes – someone still has a landline and yes, what would “SCREAM” be if they didn’t. I mean they have to follow some traditions and this one is a MUST to have as they can’t deny us, the audience this one major plot point now can they. Well thankfully co-directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett agree.

The plot is simple and while it’s good to it all keep vague to not spoil it, it’s also exactly what you think it will be with the exception of this time around they’ve brought along with them a new cast of characters. New girls Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), and her older sister Sam Carpenter (Melissa Barrera), as our female leads, essentially taking the spots of Gale Weathers-Riley (Courtney Cox), and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), they have the same chemistry of not really being close at the beginning. And then Ghostface returns to town proving he can still slash with the best of them, and turns everything upside down.

With her own set of suspects…errr… friends, Tara gets attacked by whomever Ghostface might actually be this time around and that list of new suspects is long. There is Sam’s boyfriend Richie Kirsch (Jack Quaid), along with Tara’s group of school friends, Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison), the twins, Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy Meeks-Martin (Jasmin Savoy-Brown), Liv McKenzie (Sonia Ammar), and Wes Hicks (Dylan Minnette) – who is none other than Deputy Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) son. Combining this new cast along with our old favourites – Gale, Sidney and yes, the now “retired” Dewey Riley (David Arquette), makes this film an absolute blast, with a lot of crisp, smart, but alas also cliched writing, that combines the nostalgia of what has come before with the infusion of fresh talent present here. Now this is how you return to Woodsboro.

SCREAM is a fun, intelligent horror film and the fandom should be quite happy here with it as it draws some good laughs for how the writers nail every piece of the dialogue, along with the film’s ability to recognize not only where it came from, but to play with it along the way. You’re along for the jokes as an audience, while it juggles every one of your expectations when it comes to what is on the screen. And while of course it has cliché galore and some cheese is thrown in, but that is sorta what the DNA of the franchise is notorious for now isn’t it?! Truly, what would a ‘SCREAM’ movie be if your characters didn’t get slashed and still be able to get up and walk around like nothing has ever happened. And that’s also what brings the humour – the quick funny one liners about what people “should” be doing in a horror movie is what made the original well.. so original.

And while the new cast is good and pretty solid in their respective new roles with any one of them being able to be and/or suspected of at one time or another, of being Ghostface. Noting that they remind you of characters of old is to be expected as well, but it is Jenna Ortega who is truly amazing here. She brings the solid teen vibes making being stalked by Ghostface seem realistic. But for all that they bring, it’s hands down the old school cast that brings it hard here. Every one of them brings back not just the memories, but their characters are more solid at this point as well. One can’t help but be entertained by it all.

With tons of slasher kills, some are not for the faint of heart, as they try to outdo each other in this area and while fun, the finale seems almost like they were trying a bit too hard to come up with too many twists and turns that are fairly obvious. But again, it’s mostly just some fun with cliché thrown in adding to the good old time slash – all in all – it’s a ..SCREAM!

Grade: B+

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Review Screening: Tuesday, January 11, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment

“SCREAM” IS OUT IN THEATERS THIS FRIDAY, JANUARY 14, 2022

REVIEW: “THE 355” (2022) Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures and director Simon Kinberg brings together an incredible group of women from Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, Bingbin Fan and Diane Kruger in it’s latest release “THE 355”.

The film follows CIA spy Mason (Jessica Chastain), as she goes off-grid after a tangled mess up debacle with fellow agent/love interest Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan). On the hunt for a new mass destruction techno weapon – one that could probably bring World War III about and possibly destroy the world through the power of technology, she teams up with her old friend MI6 cybersecurity expert Khadijah (Lupita Nyong’o). But getting the disk eludes them as they battle as well against German BND Agent Marie (Diane Kruger), as they end up combining forces for the common good. As well, Colombian psychologist Graciela (Penélope Cruz), and Chinese MSS spy Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan), come into play as well, though Graciela is no spy – she is a mother with a family back home who was thrown into it all when her friend Luis Rojas (Edgar Ramirez) is killed. As well Lin Mi doesn’t join in until they get closer to the asset and expose the corruption that may take them down some paths that lead closer to home than they realize.

Now does this film involve brain surgery – no it does not. It is however full of decent action and can be entertaining for the most part – if it weren’t so darn predictable with the character story lines. It has it’s ups and downs, for the most part getting a bit more exciting in the second half where the device is put up for auction, but again, we are in the predictable ‘bad guys at the auction’ set-up here. And as I always say, you are only as good as your villain, which here is once again, predictable.

However all is not lost as the five leading ladies are all quite superb with their distinctive characters with all of them given a decent amount to do and flesh out their characters, though Fan’s Lin Mi character doesn’t show up till at least two-thirds of the way, she makes her mark. Their dynamics and chemistry are engaging as well though Chastain and Kruger’s respective agents spark off one another throughout with their entertaining, but averse relationship, while Nyong’o brings the ‘heart’ to the film in her role as retired MI6 computer expert. It is however, Penélope Cruz who comes close to stealing the show as Colombian psychologist Graciela, as she brings the much needed fun into the film with a character very much out of her depth in the espionage and action department. And lastly, the character of Marie – with Diane Kruger just bringing the bad-assery with her here every step of the way. She’s the character you love to hate, and then love again.

Again, while entertaining at times, and the bad-assery is quite on par, and ‘Girl Power’ definitely reigns supreme here, unfortunately the end result is a rather mish-mash affair that, while not really ever dull, never really feels all that fully exciting either.

Grade: C-

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Review Screener: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“THE 355” is out in theaters Friday, January 7, 2022

REVIEW: “ENCOUNTER” (2021) Amazon Films

Well to say this film went into the unexpected might not quite sum up completely as writers Joe Barton and Michael Pearce, whom directs as well, take us on a road trip journey of science fiction – adding in a very personal side to the lead character, that at first is just thought of as being a crazy person, but it really goes much deeper than that.

Malik Khan (Riz Ahmed) is a ex-Navy Seal/Marine who is on a mission. But not the kind you would think it would be like the ‘too busy saving the world’ kind so he rarely gets to see his sons, who live with their mom Piya (Janina Gavankar), and her new husband Dylan (Misha Collins), but as young boys do, they miss him dearly, and vise versa. One night Malik shows up unexpectedly and persuades his two young sons, Jay (Lucian-River Chauhan) and Bobby (Aditya Geddada), to come with him but won’t explain the urgency of why or where they are going to his them. He has convinced himself and in short, tries to convince his sons that something has happened, something more important than the initial mission apparently, or rather, the ‘mission’ has come to their home.

ENCOUNTER

Malik’s mission as he finally explains it while on the run is this. A comet has brought alien micro-organisms to Earth, and the organisms use mosquitos to transplant themselves into humans where they can manipulate their behaviour. While it might sound far-fetched saying it out loud, think about it, mosquitos do carry things. So in essence he makes it feel very real to them and even somewhat to us, the audience, as he tells his kids, though they might not have observed it first hand, but the aliens had already infected their mom, and it was only a matter of time before she in turn infects them. So Malik is taking Jay and Bobby to a base where they will be safe, while, in the meantime, their mother has reported them missing, and there is an all out alert for Malik for kidnapping. The only person he has trusted so far is the person he has to report and check in with for the past few years, Hattie (Octavia Spencer), and even she is baffled and confused by what he is doing, and while she keeps noting to those hunting for him, how this isn’t really him and he would never hurt his boys. This is where I started to realize what the deeper part of the film was, and it’s clear that Malik is delusional, traumatized and suffering from some sort of PTSD. And it seems the boys are picking up on this as well.

Honestly, Riz Ahmed once again proves once again that he will always pick roles that challenge him and that he somehow pulls off without a blip as he lives up to his reputation of engaging an audience with an intense, committed performance. As well, the kids are scene-stealers with both of the young actors showing real intensity and just the right amount of kid-cuteness to make it all realistic. The long desert cinematography was all quite encompassing aside from the three leads and their obvious chemistry as a family.

This is a hard one to put a label on as yes, it’s Sci-Fi, but it’s underlying tension of what is real and what isn’t, keeps you well alert long after whatever you realize is actually going on. It’s also very much about the bond between a parent and children. It also handles a surprisingly hard subject of PTSD in a such a sympathetic and realistic manner when Hattie is speaking for him, yet the others think he’s going to hurt the kids, it’s done so well, but also in the most different original manner ever. Yet somehow it all works, as there is tension, love, aliens and a road trip all in one film. Colour me Alien-rated as I quite enjoyed this for it’s originality of idea and how that idea was told.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening ~ Courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

“Encounter” will be in theaters December 3, 2021 for a limited release // Coming to Amazon Prime on December 10, 2021

REVIEW: “THE GOD COMMITTEE”(2021)

Finally wrapping up my Tribeca Film Festival coverage with what was the highlight film of the festival for me – “THE GOD COMMITTEE”. The film delves deep with a look into a very different type of ‘committee’, one that makes the tough decisions on life and death every day. It also has a compelling backstory within it of not only the people’s whose lives these very transplants can change, but the people making the decisions as well aka ‘The God Committee’.

As the film opens, a transplant patient dies just before their surgery is to begin, making a heart available, but with only an hour or so of viability to decide ‘The God Committee’, pits a group of doctors, nurses, specialists and yes, even a clergyman, against each other as they must decide who gets the heart from a pool of candidates. The Committee – which consists of: Father Dunbar (Colman Domingo), the lawyer turned clergyman; Dr. Allan Lau (Peter Y. Kim), the reticent one of the bunch who tries recusing himself from the decision; Nurse Wilkes (Patricia R. Floyd), probably the least biased one of the bunch; the aging, though hard-living chief surgeon Dr. Andre Boxer (Kelsey Grammar); the idealistic young doctor-with-a-secret Dr. Jordan Taylor (Julia Stiles), and lastly, the just lets-just-get-it-over-with bureaucratic hospital administrator, Dr. Valerie Gilroy (Janeane Garofalo). The crux of the story is the panel’s struggle on the decision making position process, taking us down a mean dive into the grimy and sometimes slimy world of unconditional ethics, along with the tension of the weighing of the needs of many, versus the needs of one. The debate here stems over whether to give a heart transplant to Trip (Maurizio Di Meo), a drug addict with a long history of recurring rehabs who coerced his girlfriend to terminate her pregnancy, or to Walter (Kyle Moore), a somewhat overweight doorman with a family to support or lastly, Janet Pike (Georgia Buchanan), an ornery, elderly woman who doesn’t like the idea of a transplant. The apparent no-brainer is complicated by the fact that Trip’s wealthy father Granger (Dan Hedaya), is dangling a $25 million donation for the hospital in front of the board if Trip is chosen. Well that and he also happens to be a potential investor in the heart surgeon’s Dr. Boxer’s private research.

As the committee members struggle with their literal life-or-death decision, previously unknown information regarding all the patients considered for the procedure and the committee members themselves, comes to light in ways that affect everyone involved in various ways. As the debate over the heart heats up, so does the tension of the room, the digs escalate and the ethics vs. the bribes clash almost to the point of no return. It leaves not just the committee members, but the audience as well, to question what’s more valuable when it comes to people’s lives – the morals of it or the money that can help it?

Writer-director Austin Stark applies a remarkable touch to his adaptation here, while crosscutting between two timelines that the film goes between. November 2014, the time of the actual committee meeting and decision making, and December 2021, when we find out what the research actually entailed. Along with a big twist, the future timeline exists seemingly to supply us with the ‘what if’s’, as it holds us in the back and forth that can twist the decision making. What was once thought of as a list that was first-come, first-serve, is truly anything but. And we the audience feel that along with the film mostly because of the stellar acting of the cast, most notably, Grammar and Stiles, who knock this one out of the park. Also a nice turn seeing Dan Hedaya back and Garofalo really steps up her game her doing the dramatic as well as she does comedic. While we see the outcome of the decision, the only downside to this film is it never tells us whether any of the characters from 2014 were able in 2021 to live with the decisions they all made seven years earlier.

And unlike the decisions made by ‘The God Committee’, the decision to watch this one is simple. Watch it.

Grade: A-

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Virtual screening courtesy of ~ Betsy Rudnick PR

“THE GOD COMMITTEE” IS IN SELECT THEATERS AND ON DEMAND AS OF FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2021


TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “FALSE POSITIVE” HULU

One of my tops to watch for Tribeca 2021 was “FALSE POSITIVE” and let me tell you how this slow-burn thriller did not disappoint – for the first hour. What started off semi-interesting, unfortunately took a spin into left field and went for ridiculous and non-sensical.

Lucy (Ilana Glazer), plays a mom who is struggling with something that many have before, conceiving a child. Her husband Adrian (Justin Theroux), agrees they need to to a fertility clinic in attempt to get pregnant, and he conveniently knows of one ran by his old medical professor, Dr. Hindle (Pierce Brosnan). It’s an odd place, with stepford like nurses in Nurse Rita (Sabine Gadecki) and most especially lead Nurse Dawn (Gretchen Mol). She conceives multiple babies, twin boys and a daughter she names “Wendy”. But the one fetus, the girl, is weak, and Lucy and Adrian have to make a choice about selective reduction: save the two males or save the female.

Replete with the evil fertility doctor played by Brosnan, and the thoroughly complicit husband played by Theroux, Ilana gets to play a mom, struggling with something that everybody, in this movie at least, keeps calling “mommy brain”. But it’s clearly much much more than whatever that ‘affliction’ might be. First her husband, then her friends, even the closest one from the ‘mommy group’ Corgan (Sophia Bush), seemingly start to turn on her as we see Lucy having all these random paranoid thoughts and dreams. But the absolute last straw is when the midwife she chose in secret and insists on using finally proclaims, “I am not your mystical negress.” How does that even come to be stated in a screenplay, one will never know. Anyway, what was actually intriguing and entertaining for the first 45 minutes, dramatically changes, but what puts you into the ‘really ick’ category is by what unfolds towards the end. It didn’t sit well with me at all. It was incredibly strange, cringey, and just in bad taste. I’m not even sure if the writers knew where they were going with this ending, most especially the last scene. None of this can be revealed as it’s something each person needs to see to decide for themselves what their ‘factor’ is. Plus it’s essentially the entire plot of the movie as well.

Taking all that under consideration, the acting was still quite good from all concerned, most especially Brosnan who took the creepy villain to heart here. But the whole dream sequence after dream sequence and with an ending that made me scream out WHY?? – just took what could have been a truly good creeper horror and made it almost into a joke – albeit a not so good one from this point of view.

C-

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Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’False Positive” ~ courtesy of ID PR

“FALSE POSITIVE” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL AND IS NOW PLAYING ON HULU

TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “DO NOT HESITATE”

The Dutch military mission in Afghanistan which had started in 2006 is coming to an end, though a redeployment task force would stay on to oversee the return of vehicles, military hardware and equipment to the Netherlands. This is the lead into one of the better foreign films of the Tribeca, “DO NOT HESITATE”. It is the second feature film by the Dutchman (originally from Venezuela) Sharif Korver, and with it, we find almost a character study of the absolute tricks of mind-play that war can do to you.

Written by Jolein Laarman, ‘Do Not Hesitate’ focuses on a trio of Dutch soldiers Erik (Joes Brauers),Thomas (Tobias Kersloot), and Roy (Spencer Bogaert), whom are separated from their unit when during a reconnaissance mission, their armored vehicle breaks down and they are tasked with staying back and ‘protecting the equipment’ while waiting for help in getting the vehicle and it’s expensive gunnery moved.

The three young soldiers, are not just bored, but you can see written all over them, how nervous and inexperienced they are. Throw in ‘paranoia’ to the mix, as anything can be a potential attack on them and all this leads one of them to ‘hear and see’ something to which it turns out, one accidentally kills a goat, which they in turn bury. Now this goat, well it’s probably the prime source of milk for a whole family, and if killed, would feed that family for a good portion of time. This isn’t at the top of their minds when a young boy, the goat’s owner/herder Khalil (Omar Alwan) shows up looking for his goat and upset by the death of his animal and demands restitution. While Khalil waits for his payment, Erik tries to be polite while Thomas spews racist words at him in Dutch. They are all frustrated by Khalil’s just screaming at the top of his little lungs at them, and though he is a teenager and he’s little, he’s determined to get more than the fifty American dollars they offer as compensation for his dead goat. Erik is the only one of the three to try to make amends and de-escalate the situation.

These three main characters have little in common besides being deployed as it’s apparent not just in the different dialects of Dutch they speak, but we see brief glimpses into who they were before being put in this most precarious of positions. So much mentally happens and it leads into a step by step tense by tense moment after moment, with the music by Juho Nurmela and Ella van der Woude‘s creeping piano and continuing drums throughout, keeps it and you on edge, to the earth shattering final act right before being rescued that can only have ended as it did. The ending, while it might shock you, you also realize it was always going to be this way because these boys are really far too young, and inexperienced in their own right to even be put in this type of predicament. No one should ever be and it’s that story with the ending showing it never ever will not effect them, that makes you think truly ask if the price of war is really worth it.

‘B+’

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Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’DO NOT HESITATE’ ~ courtesy of MPRM Communications

“DO NOT HESITATE” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL // TO BE RELEASED IN NETHERLANDS THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2021

Review: “WITHOUT REMORSE” (2021) Amazon Studios

Based on the Jack Ryan universe created by spy novelist extraordinaire Tom Clancy, “WITHOUT REMORSE” focuses on one of the most popular characters in the saga: John Kelly aka the future John Clark, as he gets his own origin story here from writers Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, directed by Stefano Sollima.

The films opens with a big action soaked scene of a hostage rescue in Aleppo, Syria, with Senior Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan,) as part of a Navy Seal team, on what is clearly supposed to be a easy in and out hostage rescue. But of course it doesn’t go as planned and the recourse of what happens here, ends up changing John Kelly’s life forever. Fast forward after the attack gone wrong, John finds himself back at home in Washington D.C. happily awaiting the birth of his first child with his wife Pam (Lauren London), when they are attacked, leaving him badly wounded, while Pam and his unborn child are killed.

The attack, by a team of Russian assassins is payback and now John wants revenge, but the bureaucratic response from the higher ups at the Department of Defense and CIA agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell), gives it a no go. In steps Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce), who seems willing to blur the lines somewhat given what John has gone through, and we have the greenlight for John to be part of the team to go in to this time capture ex-Spetznaz agent Victor Rykov (Brett Gelman), although not without some hesitancy from his Commander and friend Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith). All the while, this has been more John seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife, but it seems while wanting to do so, he has uncovered what is truly at hand, a covert plot that threatens to engulf the United States and Russia in an all-out war. Of course, things go once again upside down and the rest of the film turns into more of a personal payback mission for John.

The film, which also already has a second part on the way ~ courtesy of a mid-credits scene – updates and changes drastically not only the origin of the character, but the original plot of the story as well, which ends up giving us the feeling like it’s been seen a thousand times before. Not only because he is a military man who seeks revenge for the murder of his family, but also because he rekindles that been there – done that – conflict between the United States and Russia. While the hunt for the Russians keeps throwing our hero into explosive situations, ultimately revealing who the real villain is (to no one’s surprise) is part of the predictability process that is so very well….predictable. It’s the kind of tedious thriller where you spot the villain instantaneously, and realize who the backstabber is without even trying to. The one high point of it all for those who follow this character in Clancy novels, is this is also the telling of how John Kelly became John Clark and it’s moments like that that give it the much needed elevation we all wanted. Sadly, it’s brief, but boy can it be taken from here and really have something special come out of it, well we will have to just wait and see, as the action was decent and well as the acting.

On it’s good side, Jordan is a born action star and if this film is a hit, and future scripts possibly revamped, it could be a major franchise. Jodie Turner-Smith does well enough and all this flack that a woman can’t be a SEAL is just silly. It has been great seeing Guy Pearce come back to the big screen as well, he played his part perfectly, and look forward to having more of him in the future. The true error in all this is the book would have been ideal as an 8 part mini series. There is so much to explore and it could have set up a whole Clark universe with new stories being set in the 80’s, 90’s and beyond, you can’t help but think. So. Much. Potential.

C-

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Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ Ginsberg/Libby PR

“WITHOUT REMORSE” is available on Amazon Prime Friday, April 30, 2021