REVIEW: RED SPARROW

CAST

Jennifer Lawrence (Mother!)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Matthias Schoenaerts (Black Book)
Charlotte Rampling (Assassin’s Creed)
Mary-Louise Parker (Red)
Ciarán Hinds (Justice League)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Bill Camp (Lawless)
Jeremy Irons (Batman V Superman)
Thekla Reuten (Highlander: The Source)
Douglas Hodge (Serena)
Sakina Jaffrey (Sleepy Hollow)
Hugh Quarshie (Highlander)
Kristof Konrad (Angels & Demons)

Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow (2018)In modern-day Russia, Dominika Egorova is a famed Russian ballerina who supports her ill mother. Following a career-ending injury, Dominika is approached by her uncle, Ivan, who works in Russian intelligence. She is tasked with seducing Dimitry Ustinov, a Russian gangster, in exchange for her mother’s continued medical care. As Ustinov rapes her, he is killed by Matorin, a Russian operative authorized by Ivan. Ivan offers Dominika a choice to begin working for Russian intelligence, or be executed so there are no witnesses.Charlotte Rampling and Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow (2018)Nate Nash is a CIA operative working in Moscow. While meeting with an asset in Gorky Park, they are confronted by the police. Nash creates a diversion to ensure his asset, a mole in Russian ranks code-named Marble, escapes unidentified. Nash is reassigned back to the U.S. but insists that he is the only individual whom Marble will work with. Since he cannot return to Russia, he is assigned to Budapest, where he will regain contact with Marble.Jennifer Lawrence and Sergei Polunin in Red Sparrow (2018)Dominika is sent to train to become a Russian operative, known as a ‘Sparrow’, capable of seducing her targets. Dominika excels in her training, despite some friction with her trainers, and she is assigned to Budapest. Russian SVR has been tracking Nash, and hopes to find out the identity of Marble. Dominika’s assignment is to gain the trust of Nash, and reveal his contact.Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow (2018)Upon her arrival in Budapest, Dominika lives with Marta, another Sparrow. Her boss in Budapest is Maxim Volontov. Dominika quickly makes contact with Nash, who correctly determines that she is a Russian intelligence operative. Dominika reveals her true identity to him, as well as her motive to find out Marble’s identity. While Marta is out, Dominika inspects her room, and realizes that she is working to gather information from Stephanie Boucher, chief of staff for a U.S. Senator. Dominika realizes she needs more time, and claims to her uncle that she is helping in Marta’s effort to gather information from Boucher. Upon returning home one day, Dominika finds Marta brutally tortured and murdered. Matorin reveals that he carried out the murder as a warning not to betray Russian secrets, which Marta did out of revenge for Dominika taking credits, albeit partial, for her work.Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow (2018)Dominika offers to work for Nash as a double agent. She carries out Marta’s assignment to meet Boucher, and covertly exchanges the supplied information for CIA-supplied floppy disks. On leaving the meeting place, Boucher sees American agents and is spooked. She unintentionally steps into traffic and is killed. Russian agents observing Boucher realize that the mission had been compromised. Dominika and Volontov are required to immediately return to Moscow. She is tortured and interrogated for days but does not break even as her boss Volontov was apparently executed. She convinces Ivan that she is now credible to the Americans, as she has been tortured by her own people and did not reveal information. Dominika returns to Budapest, and informs Nash that she wishes to defect with her mother to America.Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow (2018)After spending the night with Nash, Dominika awakes to find him being tortured by Matorin, who is attempting to discover the identity of Marble. She initially helps Matorin torture Nash, but turns on the executioner and kills him. She wakes in a hospital where General Vladimir Korchnoi reveals that he is Marble. He explains that he was initially patriotic, but grew to feel that Russia was corrupt. He fears he will be caught soon, and instead of dying in vain, instructs Dominika to reveal his identity to Ivan. She could then replace him as a mole and further their work by passing information to the CIA. But when Dominika contacts her superiors to reveal the identity of the mole, she frames her uncle Ivan rather than betray Korchnoi. Ivan is killed by the Russian side during a spy swap, and Dominika is congratulated for her work by her Russian superiors. Back home in Russia, Dominika lives with her mother, and receives a phone call from an unknown person who plays Grieg’s piano concerto that she had listened to during her love affair with Nash.Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow (2018)Red Sparrow is not what it seems to be and that’s actually a good thing. Reunited with director Francis Lawrence, Jennifer Lawrence brings the star power to this cold and rough thriller. This is not an action movie as it has barely any action sequences, but it’s a clever and well thought out political drama. It’s one of those few interesting cass when you can’t quite read the protagonist, and Jennifer proves a wild card here. The chemistry just isn’t there though, it’s hard to buy Lawrence and Edgerton’s romance. And it bothers a bit that all the russian folks are played by americans (it can’t be that hard to find decent russian actors). But make no mistakes, this is a hell of ride, it’s violent, it’s brutal, and it’s nasty bones will creep up on you.

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REVIEW: MAGGIE

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan The Barbarian)
Abigail Breslin (Scream Queens)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Douglas M. GBriffin (mr. Right)
J.d. Evermore (Django Unchained)
Rachel Whitman Groves (Claws)

In the present-day Midwestern United States, society struggles to function in the aftermath of a zombie pandemic barely under control (Necroambulism). Maggie Vogel (Abigail Breslin) calls her father from a broken city under curfew; her voicemail urges that he not seek her and that she loves him. Her arm was bitten. Knowing she has only weeks before the “Necroambulist virus” turns her cannibalistic, she left home to protect her family. Maggie’s father Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has searched two weeks, despite her warning. Finding her in a hospital for the infected, he brings Maggie home to care for her until she must eventually be quarantined. During their return, a zombie attacks Wade at an abandoned gasoline station and he breaks its neck.At home, Maggie’s younger half-siblings Bobby and Molly (Aidan and Carsen Flowers) are leaving to stay with their aunt. Maggie talks to Bobby, who mostly understands what she is undergoing. She withdraws from her family, struggling to cope with her hopeless situation and torn about contacting her friends. Falling from a swing, she breaks a finger on her infected arm, from which black fluid oozes. Terrified, even though she feels little or no pain, and despairing over her deteriorating body, Maggie cuts off the finger. She flees outside and encounters a neighbor, Nathan, and his young daughter, both senseless with infection. Wade kills both zombies but feels extreme remorse. The responding sheriffs consider Wade blameless, instead blaming Nathan’s wife Bonnie, who hid her infected family from the authorities. Bonnie visits Wade that night, decrying the dehumanizing treatment of the infected and revealing that Nathan had locked himself in with his sick daughter, becoming infected himself, rather than abandon her to death among strangers in quarantine.A doctor warns Wade that Maggie’s condition is worsening quickly, leaving him three eventual options: she can be quarantined, which Wade refuses; Wade can administer at home the same euthanasia injection offered in quarantine, which he’s warned is painful; or Wade can “make it quick” himself. Wade and Maggie make the most of their remaining days, reminiscing about Maggie’s deceased mother. Despite Maggie’s physical deterioration (she’s woken by maggots wriggling in her dying arm) she struggles to maintain normality. She attends a bonfire with high school friends Allie and an infected boy, Trent (Bryce Romero), whom Maggie previously dated, and whom she kisses. He tells rumors of horrible conditions at the quarantine facilities, saying he would die before going there.One day, Maggie smells food near her stepmother Caroline (Joely Richardson), though Caroline smells nothing and muses that Wade must be cooking downstairs. Finding the kitchen empty, Caroline realizes in horror that Maggie has begun to smell living flesh, in this case Caroline’s, as food. Maggie receives a desperate call from Trent. At his home, Trent has locked himself inside his bedroom after he too felt hunger smelling another human. Maggie tries to comfort him but watches helplessly as the police forcibly remove Trent to quarantine.Back home, Maggie encounters a trapped fox in the woods. Later she runs into her home, hysterical and coated in blood, admitting through tears to her frightened parents that she freed the fox but then couldn’t stop herself from attacking it. Wade shoots the half-eaten fox. Caroline departs and urges Wade it’s time Maggie is taken away. Two officers arrive and Wade fights one of them before Maggie appears, assuring them she has not yet turned. The sympathetic sheriff leaves Wade with a warning that he’d better decide what to do with her before they next come to check on Maggie.Wade shows Maggie white daisies he’s grown in her mother’s old garden, “Daisy” being a nickname he sometimes uses for Maggie. She thanks him for the garden’s beauty, but also begs him to promise that he will “make it stop” before she grows worse. Later, Wade sits alone with his shotgun, still unable to use it. He pretends to sleep when Maggie approaches, her skin now gray and her eyes blackened. She lingers over him, smelling him, seemingly on the edge of self-control, before kissing his forehead. She then climbs to the roof and jumps off, her last memories being of herself as a child frolicking outdoors with her mother, picking a daisy.This is in many ways a good, strange and different film, it is a zombie film, but not in the way you would expect, this is a drama about a dad finding and taking care of his daughter in her last days of an illness. The illness being she is turning into a zombie. I was entertained throughout, it’s a good Zombie Drama movie.

REVIEW: RED LIGHTS

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CAST

Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Robert De Niro (Limitless)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Craig Roberts (Young Dracula)
Toby Jones (The Hunger Games)
Burn Gorman (Game of Thrones)

 

61ulpkqrdalThe film opens with two primary characters: university academic Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver), who investigates claims of paranormal phenomena, and her assistant Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy), a physicist. The audience is provided with an insight into the world of the opening section’s primary characters while concurrently observing the public reemergence of a psychic, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro).1

The ending of the film’s first half is signified by the sudden death of Matheson from a chronic vascular condition at the same time that one of Silver’s comeback performances takes place, an incident that is particularly significant due to the death of a former nemesis of Silver, a skeptic who investigated the psychic’s work, under similar circumstances. Matheson also had a previous encounter with Silver. She recounted a public meeting when Silver had, for an instant, got the best of her by bringing up the subject of her son’s spirit (her son was in a vegetative coma and on life support). Matheson agrees only to appear on a televised panel in anticipation of Silver’s return. Prior to her death, Matheson refuses to cooperate with Buckley’s insistent call to undertake another investigation of Silver, warning Buckley against such an undertaking due to her previous experience with the psychic.2

However, following Matheson’s death, the assistant becomes increasingly obsessed with investigating Silver for the purpose of exposing the popular psychic as a fraud. During Buckley’s efforts to reveal Silver’s large-scale trickery, a series of inexplicable events occurs — electronic devices explode, dead birds appear, and Buckley’s laboratory is vandalized. Buckley’s paranoia intensifies, as he believes Silver is behind these incidents. Buckley’s calm and rational disposition eventually degenerates into an obsessiveness that resembles the late Matheson’s intense antipathy to paranormal claims. As part of the introduction to the climactic section of the film, Silver agrees to participate in an investigation proposed by an academic from the same university that Matheson was employed by, and Buckley joins the observation team for the tests.4In the final moments of the film, Buckley’s assistants manage to reveal the manner in which Silver defrauds the public through a close analysis of the test footage accumulated by Buckley from the university’s investigation. At the same time, Buckley exposes Silver at one of the psychic’s public performances, and Silver is left dumbfounded. Buckley then reveals to the viewer that he actually possesses paranormal abilities and has been responsible for the inexplicable incidents that have occurred during his investigation of Silver. In a letter to his late mentor, Buckley explains a realization in which he arrives at an understanding that his decision to work with Matheson, despite the possibility of loftier career opportunities as a physicist, was the result of an unconscious attempt to seek others like himself; the revelation clarifies that Buckley’s choices were made in spite of his conscious denial of the existence of paranormal activity (such denial is touched on earlier in the film, whereby the character implies that he chose this career because his mother was delayed from seeking critical medical treatment due to advice from a fraud psychic). The letter to Matheson ends with regret that Buckley denied her the consolation of knowing that there is something more, and that now she deserved even more, “everything.” Buckley then turns off the life-support machine that is keeping Matheson’s son alive. He then walks out of the hospital and concludes his letter to the deceased Matheson: “You can’t deny yourself forever”.3This is a clever movie, doesn’t spell out everything for you, makes you want to watch it carefully so as to not miss a thing. All in all, its one of the best thriller movies I have seen.

 

 

REVIEW: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2011)

CAST

Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Rooney Mara (The Scoial Network)
Christopher Plummer (Star Trek 6)
Stellan Skarsgård (Thor)
Steven Berkoff (A Clockwork Orange)
Robin Wright (Nine Lives)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Goran Višnjić (Elektra)
Geraldine James (Arthur)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Joel Kinnaman (Robocop 2014)
Élodie Yung (Daredevil)

In Stockholm, Sweden, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), co-owner of Millennium magazine, has lost a libel case brought against him by businessman Hans-Erik Wennerström (Ulf Friberg). Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), a brilliant but troubled investigator and hacker, compiles an extensive background check on Blomkvist for business magnate Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer), who has a special task for him. In exchange for the promise of damning information about Wennerström, Blomkvist agrees to investigate the disappearance and assumed murder of Henrik’s grandniece, Harriet, 40 years ago. After moving to the Vanger family’s compound, Blomkvist uncovers a notebook containing a list of names and numbers that no one has been able to decipher.

Salander, who is under state legal guardianship due to diagnosed mental incompetency, is appointed a new guardian, lawyer Nils Bjurman (Yorick van Wageningen), after her previous guardian Holger Palmgren suffers a stroke. Bjurman abuses his authority to extort sexual favors from Salander and violently rapes her, not realizing she has a hidden video camera on her bag. At their next meeting she stuns him with a stun gun, rapes him with a dildo, and marks him as a rapist with a tattoo on his chest and stomach. Threatening to disclose the video recording, she blackmails him into writing a glowing progress report and granting her full control of her money.

Blomkvist’s daughter Pernilla (Josefin Asplund) visits him and notes that the numbers from the notebook are Bible references. Blomkvist tells Vanger’s lawyer, Dirch Frode (Steven Berkoff), that he needs help with his research, and Frode recommends Salander based on the work she did researching Blomkvist himself. Blomkvist hires Salander to investigate the notebook’s content. She uncovers a connection to a series of murders of young women from 1947 through 1967, with the women either being Jewish or having Biblical names; many of the Vangers are known antisemites. During the investigation, Salander and Blomkvist become lovers. Henrik’s openly national socialist brother Harald identifies Martin (Stellan Skarsgård), Harriet’s brother and operational head of the Vanger empire, and Blomkvist marks Martin as a possible suspect. Salander’s research uncovers evidence that Martin and his deceased father, Gottfried, committed the murders.

Blomkvist breaks into Martin’s house to look for more clues, but Martin catches him and prepares to kill him. While torturing Blomkvist, Martin brags of having killed women for decades but denies killing Harriet. Salander arrives, subdues Martin and saves Blomkvist. While Salander tends to Blomkvist, Martin flees. Salander, on her motorcycle, pursues Martin in his SUV. He loses control of his vehicle on an icy road and dies when it catches fire. Salander nurses Blomkvist back to health and tells him that she tried to kill her father when she was 12. Blomkvist deduces that Harriet is still alive and her cousin Anita (Joely Richardson) likely knows where she is. He and Salander monitor Anita, waiting for her to contact Harriet. When nothing happens, Blomkvist confronts her, deducing that the woman posing as Anita is Harriet herself. She explains that her father and brother had sexually abused her for years, and that Martin saw her kill their father in self-defense. Her cousin Anita smuggled her out of the island and let her live under her identity. Finally free of her brother, she returns to Sweden and tearfully reunites with Henrik.

As promised, Henrik gives Blomkvist the information on Wennerström, but it proves worthless. Salander hacks into Wennerström’s computer and presents Blomkvist with evidence of Wennerström’s crimes. Blomkvist publishes an article that ruins Wennerström, who flees the country. Salander hacks into Wennerström’s bank accounts and, travelling to Switzerland in disguise, transfers two billion euros to various accounts. Wennerström is found murdered. Salander reveals to her former guardian Holger Palmgren that she is in love with Blomkvist. On her way to give Blomkvist a Christmas present, Salander sees him with his longtime lover and business partner Erika Berger (Robin Wright). Heartbroken, she discards the gift and rides away.I recommend it whether or not you have seen the original series. I also recommend you do check out the original series. If they do complete the rest of the trilogy, there will be opportunities in those movies to vastly outshine the originals, certainly if they include more detail from the books as they do here.

REVIEW: MAYBE BABY

 

CAST
Hugh Laurie (House)
Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck)
Matthew MacFadyen (Anna Karenina)
Adrien Lester (The Day After Tomorrow)
Yasmin Bannerman (Killing Me Softly)
Joanna Lumley (The Cat’s Meow)
Emma Thompson (Men in Black 3)
James Purefoy (Solomon Kane)
Judith Shekoni (Heroes Reborn)
Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English)
Dawn French (Harry Potter)

Most people seem to hate this movie as a comedy and see it as a bas satire on the world of television. The movie is however so much more. The main essence of the movie is on its romance and a sweet little romantic movie this is. It’s a well made movie, with realistic main characters in a realistic situation. Of course everything is done over-the-top, to still give the movie a light and fun overall feeling, rather than a heavy dramatic one, which it easily could had turned into. I like this approach and it worked out well for the film. It’s fun but at the same time also serious at the right moments. It makes “Maybe Baby” a well balanced movie, that perhaps goes a bit too over-the-top at times, in terms of its credibility.

The strongest point of this movie are the two main characters. There are realistic and their relationship is portrayed in a sensible and good way. Those two character make and form this movie. It’s a movie about real people with real problems. The are nicely portrayed by Joely Richardson and Hugh Laurie. But of course a lighthearted little movie as this also needs over-the-top comical characters. This one is portrayed by Tom Hollander. He for most part is the comic relief of the movie, as a movie director. Unfortunately the movie also thought it was necessary to give some famous British comedians a cameo in this movie. It’s distracting and not always good for the credibility of the movie, though Rowan Atkinson’s role is certainly an entertaining one.

The story is told nicely and has several story lines in it, which never distracts from each other. The entire movie is told with some subtle British humor which help to make this movie a light one to watch.

If you take the movie for what it is (a light romantic movie with humor in it), you’ll certainly enjoy watching this little British movie.