REVIEW: MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III

CAST

Tom Cruise (Vanilla Sky)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Red Dragon)
Ving Rhames (Dark Blue)
Billy Crudup (Watchmen)
Michelle Monaghan (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)
Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula)
Keri Russell (Dawn of The Planet of the Apes)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
Simon Pegg (Shaun of The Dead)
Eddie Marsan (Hancock)
Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal)
Carla Gallo (Bones)
Tracy Middendorf (Scream: The Series)
Greg Grunberg (Alias)

Ethan Hunt has retired from field work for the IMF. He instead trains new recruits while settling down with his fiancée, Julia Meade, a nurse who is unaware of Ethan’s true job. He is approached by fellow IMF agent John Musgrave about a mission to rescue one of Ethan’s protégés, Lindsey Farris. Lindsey was captured while investigating arms dealer Owen Davian. Musgrave has already prepared a team for Ethan: Declan Gormley, Zhen Lei, and his old partner Luther Stickell.The team rescues Lindsey and collects two damaged laptop computers. As they flee, Ethan discovers an explosive pellet implanted in Lindsey’s head. Before he can disable it, it goes off and kills her. Back in the U.S., Ethan and Musgrave are reprimanded by IMF Director Theodore Brassel. Ethan learns that Lindsey mailed him a postcard before her capture and discovers a magnetic microdot under the stamp.IMF technician Benji Dunn recovers enough data from the laptops to determine Davian will be in Vatican City to obtain a mysterious object called the “Rabbit’s Foot”. Ethan plans a mission to capture Davian without seeking official approval. Before leaving, he and Julia have an impromptu wedding at the hospital’s chapel. The team successfully infiltrates Vatican City and captures Davian. On the flight back to the U.S., Ethan threatens to drop Davian from the plane as he interrogates him about Rabbit’s foot, but Davian remains tightlipped. After landing, Ethan learns that the microdot contains a video of Lindsey warning that Brassel is working with Davian. The convoy taking Davian across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge–Tunnel is attacked, and Davian escapes. Ethan races to Julia’s workplace, only to find she has already been kidnapped. Davian gives Ethan 48 hours to recover the Rabbit’s Foot in exchange for Julia’s life, but Ethan is soon captured by the IMF.Musgrave takes part in Ethan’s interrogation but discreetly mouths that the Rabbit’s Foot is located in Shanghai, China, and provides Ethan with the means to escape. Ethan escapes IMF headquarters, travels to Shanghai, and acquires Rabbit’s Foot along with his team. As he delivers Rabbit’s Foot to the meeting point, Ethan is tranquilized. When he comes to, he realizes a micro-explosive is implanted in his head. The restrained Ethan sees Davian holding Julia at gunpoint. Despite Ethan asserting that he brought the real Rabbit’s Foot, Davian shoots Julia and leaves. Musgrave arrives and explains that the woman killed was not Julia, but Davian’s head of security, executed for failing to protect him in Vatican City. The ruse was to confirm the authenticity of Rabbit’s Foot. Julia is alive and held as hostage. Musgrave reveals himself as the mole. He arranged for Davian to acquire the Rabbit’s Foot and sell to a terrorist group, so that IMF would have reasons to launch a preemptive strike.When Musgrave lets his guard down, Ethan knocks him unconscious. He frees himself and uses Musgrave’s phone to track the last call’s location to find Julia. He arrives and finds the place, but encounters Davian. Davian triggers the micro-explosive in Ethan’s head, but Ethan kills him and then jury-rigs an impromptu defibrillator to deactivate the explosive. Before electrocuting himself, he kisses Julia and teaches her how to use his Beretta 92 to defend herself. While Ethan is unconscious, Musgrave and a henchman arrive and Julia shoots them dead. She successfully revives Ethan and he explains his true IMF career to her. Back in the U.S., Ethan is congratulated by Brassel as he leaves for his honeymoon with Julia.Tom Cruise on top form, great stunts, edge of seat movie well paced and kept my interest throughout can recommend highly.

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REVIEW: OPERATION: ENDGAME

CAST

Joe Anderson (The Crazies)
Odette Annabelle (The Unborn)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
Emilie de Ravin (Lost)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Ellen Barkin (Ocean’s Thriteen)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Rob Corddry (Semi-Pro)
Brandon T. Jackson (Percy Jackson)
Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent)
Berth Grant (Childs Play 2)

The majority of the events in the film take place on 1.20.09, the date of the inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States and the first day of work for “The Fool”, as the film’s main character (Joe Anderson) is code-named. The Factory, a secret office of government agents, has hired him as a thief. After the beautiful High Priestess (Maggie Q) and the caustic Chariot (Rob Corddry) meet the Fool, they enter the secret underground offices of the Factory, and the audience learns that Neal (Michael Hitchcock), Carl (Tim Bagley), and their boss Susan (Beth Grant) have the entire office under surveillance.The Factory is separated into two teams, Alpha and Omega. The two teams specialize in black ops and oppose each other in a bureaucratic system of checks and balances. Omega Team consists of the Fool, Chariot, High Priestess, Judgement (Ving Rhames) who repeats his name whenever he can, and the Emperor (Bob Odenkirk). Alpha Team consists of the Fool’s old flame, Temperance (Odette Yustman), the Empress (Ellen Barkin), Magician (Adam Scott), Tower (Brandon T. Jackson), and Hierophant (Emilie de Ravin). The head of the Factory is the Devil (Jeffrey Tambor). The wildcard of the office is the Hermit (Zach Galifianakis), an extremely dangerous assassin with diabetes and occasional irritable bowel syndrome. Not long after the Fool is introduced to everyone, Alpha and Omega find that the Devil has been murdered, and also that he has initiated Project Endgame, which has trapped both teams underground and triggered a bomb that threatens to destroy the Factory and kill everyone. The agents need to find a way out. They decide to work in pairs with their opposing mirror agents to escape.As they explore the office, members of Alpha Team begin to kill their Omega Team counterparts in gruesome fashion, with Empress killing Emperor with a staple remover, Hierophant killing Judgement by hitting him in the head with a table leg with nails protruding out, and Tower stabbing High Priestess in the throat with a metal bookend. Shortly after Tower is killed by Chariot who smashes his face repeatedly with a paper shredder, and then Chariot is almost killed by Magician. Back in the surveillance room, Carl, Neil, and Susan watch the carnage between the agents. But they all learn that the system has been corrupted, and Susan realizes that the clearance codes have been switched in conjunction with the inauguration.While trying to find a way out, Fool is attacked by Hierophant but is saved by Temperance, who kills her by hitting her repeatedly in the back with the blade of a paper cutter. She reveals to him that Alpha Team was ordered to eliminate Omega Team that very day. The Fool, Chariot and Temperance face off against the remaining members of Alpha: The Empress, Magician and the mysterious Hermit. The Fool cracks a safe in the Devil’s office and obtains a disc and a map to an exit. After more fighting and kills, such as Chariot setting Magician on fire, Hermit killing Chariot by throwing a pair of scissors into his eye and Temperance shooting Hermit in the crotch with her lipstick gun and then killing Empress by shoving a water cooler bottle down her throat causing her to drown, the Fool and Temperance are the only ones left standing. They both enter the exit elevator and escape. They kiss as the bomb goes off, destroying the Factory.Meanwhile, Carl and Neil uncover an audio tape which the Devil recorded before his death. The Devil reveals that he has a disc with every dirty secret from the last eight years of the Bush administration. He also professes his love for Susan. The elevator emerges from a bathroom stall and it is revealed the Fool has killed Temperance, the paper cutter blade stuck in her head. He snaps the neck of a man in the bathroom who sees Temperance’s body and takes his jacket, then he calls Susan, and tells her (in an English accent using the British pronunciation of ma’am as the American sound of “mom”) that he has the disc, which contains “every single one of their fuck-ups.” Susan reveals that she had hired the Fool specifically to enter the Factory and retrieve the files. She then shoots Carl and Neil. The film ends with the Fool confidently walking out of the building, stepping into a cab, and driving off and the screen turns black. In the credits, bits of a will, one recorded by Emperor and the other by Chariot, reveal that Emperor plans to leave his holiday home to his dog and give wine in his wine cellar to the widows of the men he killed, while Chariot promises that he will return as an evil ghost and will eat hearts for an eternity.I found the movie entertaining almost throughout. It’s written and performed well for the most part. Aside from a couple of exceptions, the impressive cast list only play bit parts. Don’t expect to see much of Ving Rhames or Zack Galifianakis, for example. Nevertheless I thought everyone was nicely utilized, for the amount of time they chose to donate.

REVIEW: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS

CAST

Jackie Chan (Rush Hour)
Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers)
Steve Coogan (The Other Guys)
Jim Broadbent (The Legend of Tarzan)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Luke Wilson (Charlies Angels)
John CLeese (Rat Race)
Cécile de France (The Jungle Book)
David Ryall (Outnumbered)
Roger Hammond (Rome)
Ian McNeice (Dune)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Rob Scneider (Big Daddy)
Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting)
Adam Godley (Powers)
Will Forte (MacGruber)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
Mark Addy (Game of Thrones)

In the late 19th century, a Chinese man, Lau Xing, robs the Bank of England. To evade the police, Xing becomes the valet for Phileas Fogg, an inventor, taking the pseudonym Passepartout. Phileas, just before Xing arrived, had been trying to break the 50-mph speed barrier, and after succeeding with the help of Passepartout, they head to the Royal Academy of Science. There, Fogg is insulted by the other “brilliant minds”, in particular Lord Kelvin, who believes that everything worth discovering has already been discovered. After a debate between the scientists about the bank thief, Phileas is pressured into a bet to see whether he can travel around the world in 80 days. If he wins, he will become Minister of Science in Lord Kelvin’s place, if not, he will destroy his lab and never invent anything again. Phileas and Xing start their journey around the world, taking a carriage and leaving London after a confrontation with Inspector Fix, a corrupt officer hired by Lord Kelvin to stop them.

Xing and Phileas journey to Paris. Pretending to take Phileas to a convention with Thomas Edison, Xing leads him to an art school where Phileas meets Monique La Roche, a would-be impressionist. There, Xing is attacked by disguised warriors, the Black Scorpions, sent by General Fang, a female Chinese warlord who is after the Jade Buddha that he stole. Fang had previously given it to Kelvin in exchange for military assistance in China. When Monique learns of Phileas’s ambition, she convinces them to take her with them. They depart in a hot-air balloon, chased by Fang’s warriors.

Whilst on the Orient Express, Monique learns that Xing is trying to return the Jade Buddha back to his village, and is travelling with Phileas to get there quickly. Monique keeps his secret in exchange for him convincing Phileas to let her travel with him. They travel to Turkey, where the train stops. Guards climb onboard and inform the trio that they are greeted by Prince Hapi. During the Prince’s banquet, he orders Monique to stay as his seventh wife while the men are ordered to leave. The men blackmail Prince Hapi into releasing Monique using a prized but apparently flimsy “The Thinker” statue of the Prince. The statue is destroyed, much to Hapi’s anger, but the trio escape from the guards. Lord Kelvin, learning that Phileas has been abetting a thief’s escape, orders the British colonial authorities in India to arrest both. Xing notices this and warns his companions, disguising themselves as Indian women to evade capture and successfully flee to China.

Xing leads his friends to his village, Lanzhou, where they are happily greeted. His real identity is revealed and they are held captive by the Black Scorpions. Xing challenges the leader of the group to a fight, during which he is joined by the martial arts masters of the “Ten Tigers of Canton”, of which Xing is a member. The Tigers drive the Black Scorpions from the village and free the Westerners. The Buddha is returned to the village temple. Phileas, feeling used by Xing and Monique, leaves for San Francisco alone, only to be proven wrong when the latter decide to help him win his bet. In New York City, Fang’s disguised minions trick the trio to an ambush site. Fang reveals the nature of their arrangements with Lord Kelvin to take Lanzhou and tap the jade reserves underneath it. A battle against Fang and her minions commences in the workshop where the Statue of Liberty is being constructed, resulting in Phileas missing a boat to help Xing, Fang being knocked out by Monique with a punch (revealing Monique to be the fabled 11th Tiger) and Fang’s minions being either killed or knocked out. Phileas feels he has lost, but the other two say they may still make it if they catch the next ship.

They board an old ship and Phileas convinces the captain to let him build a plane out of the ship’s old wood in exchange for a new ship. Using an altered version of the Wright brothers’ plans, Phileas builds the plane while the ship’s crew builds a catapult to launch it into the sky. They reach London, where the machine falls apart and they crash in front of the Royal Academy. Lord Kelvin sends police to arrest them for robbing the bank, in order to stop them from making it to the top step of the Academy, and proclaims himself the victor when Big Ben strikes noon, seemingly ending the wager. Monique, Fix and other ministers attest to Kelvin’s unfair methods and his bullying nature, but Kelvin scoffs at them. In the process he insults Queen Victoria, who arrives on the scene. She learned that he had sold her arsenal to Fang in exchange for jade mines in China thanks to one of his aides. Kelvin is arrested and sent to prison, and Phileas realizes he is one day early thanks to crossing the international date line. He victoriously ascends the stairs of the Academy and kisses Monique.

The end result is a beautiful film that is suitable for all ages and provides that wonderful feel-good sensation that only the greatest adventures can provide.

REVIEW: PRIEST

CAST

Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Karl Urban (Dredd)
Cam Gigandet (Easy A)
Maggie Q (Divergent)
Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Stephen Moyer (True Blood)
Christopher Plummer (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Mädchen Amick (Sleepwalkers)

A centuries long war between humans and vampires has devastated the planet’s surface and led to a theocracy under an organization called The Church. They constructed giant walled cities to protect mankind and developed a group of elite warriors, the Priests, to turn the tide against the vampires. The majority of the vampires were killed, while the remainder were placed in reservations. With the war over, the Clergy disbanded the Priests. Outside the walled cities, some humans seek out a living, free from the totalitarian control of the Church.
Priest (Paul Bettany) is approached by Hicks (Cam Gigandet), the sheriff of Augustine, a free town. Priest learns that his brother and his wife, Shannon – Priest’s girlfriend before he entered the priesthood – were mortally wounded in a vampire attack, and Priest’s niece, Lucy (Lily Collins), was kidnapped. Hicks asks for Priest’s help in rescuing Lucy. Priest asks the Clergy to reinstate his authority, but Church leader Monsignor Orelas (Christopher Plummer) does not believe the vampire story and refuses. Priest defiantly leaves the city and Orelas sends three Priests and a Priestess to bring him back.
Priest and Hicks arrive at Nightshade Reservation where humans called Familiars, people infected with a pathogen that makes them subservient to the vampires, live alongside a number of the surviving vampires. After a fierce battle, the pair discovers that most of the vampires have taken shelter in Sola Mira, a vampire hive where Priest lost several of his comrades during a major battle. Priestess joins them at Sola Mira, revealing a bond with Priest. The trio destroys a Hive Guardian vampire, then discover that the vampires have bred a new army and dug a tunnel out of the mountain towards a town called Jericho. The other three Priests have arrived at Jericho just as night falls and an armored train arrives, unleashing hundreds of vampires upon the population. The vampires are led by a powerful and mysterious human wearing a black hat. When the three Priests reject Black Hat’s offer to join him, he kills them all.
The next morning, Priest, Priestess and Hicks arrive in Jericho and discover the town empty and the three dead Priests crucified. Priest and Priestess share an intimate moment where she makes her move, hoping that now that Shannon has died, he would no longer feel bound to her. Priest, who is clearly not over Shannon, gently refuses. Priest realizes that the vampires have been using the trains to travel by day and attack the free towns by night, with the walled cities at the end of the train line. Hicks believes an attack on the cities would be unwise because of the sun, but Priest reveals that factories, producing massive clouds of smoke and ash, have permanently deprived the city of sunlight, so the vampire attack would be a slaughter.
Hicks threatens Priest, claiming he will shoot him unless he promises to let Lucy live whether she’s been infected or not. (Priest had earlier revealed to Hicks, who is in love with Lucy, that if they discovered Lucy had been infected as a Familiar, he’d kill her.) Hicks doesn’t understand why Priest, who is basically a stranger to Lucy, cares so much about her. Priestess reveals that Lucy is actually Priest’s daughter, and that his brother, Owen stepped in as a husband and a father when Priest was taken by The Church.
While Priestess rushes ahead to plant a bomb on the railroad tracks, Priest and Hicks board the train to rescue Lucy. Battling vampires and Familiars, the two are finally overpowered by Black Hat just as they find Lucy. Black Hat is revealed as one of the Priests who was defeated in the final attack on Sola Mira and a close friend of Priest. After being captured, the vampire Queen gave him her blood, turning him into the first Vampire-Human hybrid who can survive the sun. As Priest fights Black Hat, Lucy discovers the truth about her parentage. Priestess battles several Familiars, finally placing the explosives on her motor bike and crashing it into the train engine. The explosion and subsequent derailment kills the vampires and engulfs Black Hat in fire, while Hicks, Priest, Priestess, and Lucy are able to escape.
Priest returns to the city and confronts Monsignor Orelas during Mass, telling him of the burnt train containing the vampires’ bodies, but not the queen’s. He proves this by throwing a vampire head onto the floor and shocking everyone in the room. Orelas still refuses to believe him, declaring that the war is over, while Priest says that is just beginning. Outside the city Priest meets Priestess and she reveals that the other Priests have been notified and will meet them at a rendezvous point. Priest sets off into the sunset.Scott Stewart has produced a brilliant picture with Priest. The CGI vampires are also suitably disgusting and resemble the eyeless denizens of hell seen previously in Constantine. The post-script epilogue suggests there is still a story to be told. Sadly with the film not doing sowell at the box office this is all we will get.

REVIEW: THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Kate Winslet (Quills)
Naomi Watts (Birdman)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Octavia Spencer (Mom)
Maggie Q (The King of Fighters)
Tony Goldwyn (Ghost)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Keiynan Lonsdale (The Flash)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Justin Leak (Powers)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Jonny Weston (Project Almanac)
Suki Waterhouse (Pride and Predjudice and Zombies)

Five days after the assault on the Abnegation faction by Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her mind-controlled Dauntless soldiers, Jeanine has declared martial law and that the Divergents – those with the qualities of multiple factions – and those allied with them are the enemy. Among the Abnegation wreckage, Dauntless leader Eric (Jai Courtney) and his platoon recover a five-sided box: each side has a faction symbol. Jeanine presumes it contains data from the city’s founders and the means to end the Divergence problem. As only a Divergent is capable of opening the box, she orders the capture of all Divergents.
Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Peter (Miles Teller), and Caleb (Ansel Elgort) hide within the Amity compound. Soon after, Eric and his fleet arrive to test all the occupants for Divergence. Peter gives up the group’s location as Tris, Four, and Caleb escape and board a train headed into Factionless territory. After fights with the Factionless aboard, Four reveals his name–Tobias Eaton–which prompts the Factionless to stand down and reply that they have been searching for him.
Four, Tris and Caleb are given amnesty at Factionless. There, Tris and Caleb discover that the Factionless leader is Four’s mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts). She suggests that Dauntless and Factionless should ally against Erudite, but Four declines. The next morning, the three leave Factionless for Candor to meet up with the remaining Dauntless; during the trek, Caleb tells his sister Tris that he cannot continue with them and goes in a different direction. Upon arrival, Tris and Four are arrested and brought before Candor leader Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim), who intends to deliver them to Jeanine. However, Four pleads for Jack to conduct a trial in Candor with the use of truth serum. During the trial, Four communicates his motives and is absolved. Tris tearfully admits her guilt in shooting and killing Will, which angers Christina.
Candor is attacked by the Dauntless who have sided with Eric, and many people are shot with pellets of new simulation serum. Tris is captured by Eric who learns she has a Divergence reading of 100%, making her the perfect subject to open the box. Eric arrests Tris, but Four and the Factionless allies arrive to save her. After a brief exchange, Four shoots Eric in the head for the murder of hundreds of people. Back at Erudite, Jeanine, frustrated that none of the Divergent subjects have survived the simulation trials required to open the box, is approached by Peter, who pledges his loyalty to Erudite, and suggests the best way to get Tris to surrender is by exploiting her humanity.
Back at the Factionless base, Four reluctantly agrees with Evelyn that war is inevitable and that they need to prepare. Jeanine activates the pellets, causing Christina, Marlene and Hector to repeatedly chant that Tris must turn herself in or more death will follow, as they step closer and closer to the edge of a tall structure. Tris and Tori then climb the sides of the roof as Tris rescues Christina and Tori, Hector. However, Marlene plunges to her death. Overcome by guilt, Tris decides to turn herself in. That night, she and Four sleep together, and then she quietly slips away.
Upon arrival at the Erudite headquarters, Tris is immediately arrested. She agrees to undergo the trials provided that the suicides cease. Tris overcomes four of the trials, however, when her vitals drop, Jeanine reluctantly halts the simulation so that Tris can rest. Tris then discovers that they have captured Four. She fails the final trial and her vital signs cease. Her body is wheeled over to Four’s cell so the latter can mourn, but when she awakens, Peter assists Four in overpowering the guards, revealing that he had faked her death by injecting her with a sleep serum. Tris is determined to open the box and find the truth about its message; she and Four head to the simulation room, while Peter returns to the control room to secretly grant them security access.
Overcoming the final trial, Tris successfully opens the box. A woman explains that the walled city and faction system is actually an experiment they devised, that the Divergents are actually the success of the experiment, and that the world is waiting outside for them to return to humanity. Realizing she has lost all her power, Jeanine orders that the box be buried and that Four and Tris be executed. However, the Factionless army breaks into the simulation room to rescue Tris and Four. Jeanine and Caleb are arrested. The message from the box is broadcast to the entire city. Tris is hailed as a hero by the masses, eager to explore the world beyond the wall. As Jeanine looks out from her cell, she states that after 200 years since the city was enclosed, there is no telling what awaits them beyond it. Evelyn tells her that she will never find out and kills her.Insurgent is a fantastic follow up to Divergent, however I would recommend watching one after the other. Everyone was awesome in their roles, once again Kate and Shailene shone. But I also loved Octavia as she really showed what a true Amity leader would be like. I also loved when they went into Candor where Tris and Four were on trial. Props to Robert Schwentke for a perfect sequel that (like its predecessor) has you craving more.

REVIEW: DIVERGENT

CAST

Shailene Woodley (The Fault In Our Stars)
Theo James (Underworld 4)
Kate Winslet (Quills)
Ashley Judd (High Crimes)
Jai Courtney (Terminator Genysis)
Ray Stevenson (Punisher: Warzone)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Road Fury)
Miles Teller (Fantastic Four)
Tony Goldwyn (Ghost)
Ansel Elgort (Baby Driver)
Maggie Q (The King of Fighters)
Mekhi Phifer (Lie To Me)

In a futuristic dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intellectual). The remaining population are the Factionless, who have no status or privilege in this society. When children reach the age of 16, they undergo a serum-induced psychological aptitude test which indicates their best-suited faction, though they are allowed to choose any faction as their permanent group at the subsequent Choosing Ceremony.

Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) was born into Abnegation, which runs the government. Her father, Andrew Prior (Tony Goldwyn), serves on the ruling council along with the head of Abnegation, Marcus Eaton (Ray Stevenson). Beatrice takes her test with a Dauntless woman named Tori Wu (Maggie Q) as her proctor. Her results show equal attributes of multiple factions, meaning she is Divergent. Her divergence includes Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless. Tori records her results as Abnegation and warns her to keep the true result a secret, saying that because Divergents can think independently the government cannot control them and they are considered threats to the existing social order.

The next day at the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice’s brother Caleb Prior (Ansel Elgort) chooses Erudite. After some indecision, Beatrice defects to Dauntless. After the ceremony, Beatrice meets Christina (Zoë Kravitz), Al (Christian Madsen), and Will (Ben Lloyd-Hughes), three other initiates from other factions who also chose Dauntless. Christina and Al are from Candor, and Will is from Erudite. The initiates’ commitment and fearlessness are immediately tested, and Eric Coulter (Jai Courtney), a brutal Dauntless leader, makes it clear that anyone not meeting Dauntless’ high expectations will be expelled from the faction to become Factionless. Beatrice is the first to volunteer for a leap of faith from a tall building into a dark hole, landing in a net. When Four (Theo James), a transfer initiates’ instructor, asks her name, she shortens it to “Tris” leaving her Abnegation childhood behind.

Tris initially struggles in Dauntless training, ranking far below the cutoff after the first evaluation, but with Four’s help slowly improves. Eric matches her against her nemesis — Peter (Miles Teller) in a fight. Tris is soundly defeated and wakes up in the infirmary. Informed that she will miss the most important test, Capture The Flag, Tris leaves the infirmary and joins the other initiates, secures her team’s victory, and makes the final cut.

In the next phase of training, the initiates face their worst fears in psychological simulations. Divergents are resistant to serums and simulations, so Tris excels at these tests, solving them in peculiar ways, but Four warns her to solve the challenges as a normal Dauntless would in order to hide her abilities. Tris visits Caleb, who tells her that Erudite is planning to overthrow Abnegation and become the ruling faction. On her return to Dauntless quarters, Tris is attacked by Al, Peter, and Drew before being rescued by Four. The next day Al pleads for Tris’ forgiveness but she refuses, calling him a coward. He later kills himself by jumping into “The Chasm” rather than live with the shame.

To prepare her for the final test, Four takes Tris into his own fear simulations, where she learns that he was Tobias Eaton, the son of Marcus Eaton. After the simulation, they kiss. Tris then passes her test and is officially initiated into Dauntless. The rest of the Dauntless are injected with a serum supplied by Erudite which is supposedly for tracking, but is actually for mind control. The next morning, the Dauntless prepare to execute Abnegations by the orders of the Erudites. Divergents are unaffected by the new serum, so Tris must blend in to avoid suspicion. She finds Four, who reveals himself as a Divergent. While the Dauntless move to raid Abnegation, Tris and Four separate from the group and attempt to locate Tris’ parents, but Eric realises Four is not under control and captures the two. Four is taken into custody while Tris is ordered to be executed. Her mother Natalie (Ashley Judd) appears and liberates her but is shot dead as they flee.

Tris finds her father in hiding with several Abnegations including Caleb and Marcus. The group sneaks into Dauntless headquarters, where Tris encounters Peter and forces him to lead them to Erudite’s control center. Her father sacrifices himself in a shootout, and Tris goes in alone to find Four, who is now under stronger mind control designed for Divergents and attacks her. Using her knowledge of his fears, she manages to wake him from the mind control and the two enter the central control room, where Erudite leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is about to have the Dauntless army execute the entire Abnegation faction. Tris uses a sample of the mind control serum on her to force her to cancel the program. The group escapes the compound and boards a train out of the complex.

A great start to a superb franchise. Unlike many science-fiction stories, the narrative is focused on the main character’s journey as she tries to identify where she fits in a post-war world. It is therefore fortunate the the main character is very well acted, and this film is more about her journey than about the wider societal issues that form the ending. The film is also nicely grounded despite it being set centuries in the future, so there is little in the form of distracting CGI visuals. it’s refreshing to have a nicely fleshed out world that feels real.

REVIEW: THE KING OF FIGHTERS

 

CAST

Maggie Q (Divergent)
Sean Faris (The Brotherhood 2)
Will Yun Lee (Elektra)
Ray Park (Star Wars – Episode I)
David Leitch (V For Vendetta)
Francoise Yip (Blade: Trinity)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Monique Ganderston (Smallville)

At a museum in Boston, Rugal Bernstein steals three relics: The Kagura Mirror, the Yagami Necklace and the Kusanagi Sword. He uses them to disappear into a dimensional portal to awaken the mythical entity known as the Orochi, which grants limitless powers. The sword is revealed to be a fake and the quest is delayed. Mai Shiranui is told by an injured Chizuru Kagura the real sword is with Saisyu Kusanagi at a mental institution. She is warned she must defeat Rugal and her boyfriend, Iori Yagami, should not be involved. At the institution, Mai meets a catatonic Saisyu and his son, Kyo, but Iori’s presence suddenly breaks Saisyu’s catatonic state, and the elder Kusanagi threatens to kill Iori before losing consciousness and dying.

At another hospital, Chizuru is recovering from her injury and is informed by her colleague, Scott, that Rugal has altered the King of Fighters database and issued challenges to fighters around the world. CIA agent Terry Bogard enters Chizuru’s room, demanding information on Rugal’s whereabouts and the tournament. She tells that different dimensions exist, but he does not believe. Chizuru tells Terry to go to Seattle and ask Mai, who is an undercover operative sent by the CIA to infiltrate Chizuru’s organization a year ago.

At a cemetery in Seattle, where Saisyu is buried, Kyo and Iori confront each other. Iori explains that both Kusanagi and Yagami clans were destined to be enemies. Mai hitches a ride with Kyo to his home, where she explains that she is looking for the Kusanagi Sword. Kyo tells her that centuries ago, a Yagami ancestor attempted to release the Orochi, but it consumed him with murderous rage. Kyo’s ancestor killed the Yagami and returned the Orochi into its world. Mai tells Kyo that Rugal is out to unleash the Orochi. Kyo wants to confront Rugal, who destroyed his father’s mental state.

At a hotel, Mai and Kyo meet up with Iori and Terry. Rugal is using the tournament dimension to merge it with the real world. After Mai blows her cover in front of Kyo, Iori puts on his Bluetooth headset and enters the tournament dimension to confront Rugal. There, he defeats Rugal’s servants, Mature and Vice, only to have his mind consumed by the Orochi.

The next day, Kyo is lured into the tournament dimension, where he first fights Rugal and loses, but is allowed to live as a warning. Kyo brings out his ancestral sword and joins Chizuru and Terry into the tournament after Mai is dragged in by Rugal. When the four meet up, they are separated into different dimensions, with Kyo fighting Rugal, and Mai and Terry facing Mature and Vice. Rugal is about to decapitate Kyo, when Iori appears and intervenes. Rugal reveals to Kyo that several years back, he battled Saisyu, Chizuru and Iori over control of the Orochi. During that fight, Iori allowed the Orochi to take over his body, defeating Rugal, but also destroying Saisyu’s mental state by bashing his head against a wooden barrier several times. This leads to a fight between Kyo and Iori. Kyo slashes Iori in the back, releasing the Orochi from his body.

Disappointed by the outcome of the fight, Rugal sends Kyo, Iori and Mai into another dimension to face them with his full potential. Chizuru and her multiple clones appear, revealing that she has found the mirror and the necklace. The heroes fail in their first attempt to combine the relics and trap Rugal, with Chizuru mortally wounded. Mai takes her place as the mirror holder, but as she, Kyo and Iori corner Rugal, they are once again overcome by his powers. Rugal destroys Kyo’s sword, but as he is about to finish him off with a fireball, Kyo magically generates a new sword to block it. He then throws the sword and destroys Rugal.

Back in the real world, Scott places a lantern on the ocean in memory of Chizuru. Kyo decides to keep the family tradition by continuing with the tournament. He reflects on his late father’s teachings while Iori stares at him from the other side of the pier.

if your looking for a film, with a strong story, with nicely played out characters, with enough action and explanations or just generally enjoy some good fight scenes, then i recommend this film to you,