Sunday, 18 March 2018


By Brett Haynes 18/03/18

Score: 5.5/10

Before I begin I will say Gringo is not for everyone. It’s a dark comedy that’s humour will really only appeal to warped minds and hopefully a few others as well. Saying that I rather enjoyed this film but it’s far from a groundbreaking masterpiece. It’s a chaotic mess that works at times and completely misses the mark at others.

David Oyelowo stars as Harold Soyinka, a man that is constantly screwed over by his boss Richard (Joel Edgerton) who is plotting to fire him. His wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) is draining his bank accounts dry while also screwing Richard. To make matters worst Richard and his co-worker Elaine (Charlize Theron) are selling drugs to Mexican drug cartels.

So it’s safe to say that things aren’t going to well for Harold. This is where the film decides to just let go of any concrete storytelling plans and just see what happens. Harold after finding out that Richard is going to fire him decides to fake his own kidnapping and pocket the 5 million insurance money except Richard has let that policy go. Richard also sends his ex-mercenary brother Mitch (Sharlto Copley) in to rescue Harold who is now actually being targeted by one of the Cartels that Richard and Elaine screwed over.

The film works on the logic that good people get screwed over while bad people get everything and for most of it that seems true. Harold is the only character who plays by the rules and gets dumped on for it. Though by the end even he decides to be a bit dirty. We never learn anything about Harold except that his life sucks and that he wants the 5 million. We know nothing about his dreams or hopes or even what he wants to do with that money.

 Writer/Director Nash Edgerton spends so much time building up the jerks in this film that he forgot to give us a reason to cheer for Harold outside of just principle. The film does have some moments, which are genuinely clever writing like Mitch and Harold having a conversation about the Bible or one of the Cartel bosses killing people over their preference on The Beatles.

Gringo is a mess with so many different characters thrown in together and hoping that something would stick. It occasionally works but for the most part this is a mess that really has no plan.

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By Brett Haynes 18/03/18

Score: 8/10

Love, Simon is a well told gay centric romantic comedy that is equal parts charming and emotional. It focuses on many issues like friendship, being yourself and more importantly as many young LGBTQ people know when to come out. Unlike other films focusing on a gay lead, Love, Simon isn’t as depressing as hell.

Love, Simon is centred on Simon (Nick Robinson) and his group of friends who are counting down the days till graduation. Simon life is pretty much the same as everyone else’s except that he is gay and he is waiting till High School is over with and his at College to finally come out to his family and friends. Things change when a closest gay kid is revealed on the schools ‘secret’ site. Known only as Blue, Simon starts to email him as the two begin to realise they have quite a bit in common.

The plot picks up when awkward kid Martin (Logan Miller) blackmails Simon to help him go out with Simon friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp). Simon is desperate to keep his secret not only to protect himself but also that of Blue afraid that this could spook him as Simon slowly starts to fall in love with his online pen pal.

It takes a bit of time for the film to get going as we are introduced to everyone in Simon life including his psychiatrist mother (Jennifer Garner) and his father (Josh Duhamel) who has a habit of making some might say inappropriate jokes that come back to haunt him later. We are also introduced to Simon best friend Leah (Katherine Langford) who has a crush on a mysterious guy. Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr) a cool and sweet childhood friend and The Flash Keiynan Lonsdale as Bram who always catches Simon eye.

Love Simon does use fantasy scenes to its advantage. There is one scene where people are coming out as straight as well as Simon going to college and just being stereotypically gay with a flash mob and Whitney Houston playing in the background. These moments got a huge laugh out of the audience I saw it with. They also use whomever Simon thinks is Blue at the time whenever we see him typing. They hide the end result rather well but saying that its also not that hard to tell.

My biggest faults with the film do fall with some of its storytelling choices. They do feel a little like a CW drama at times and I find it highly unrealistic that someone would go to those extremes. Though at other times the film is a very powerful and emotional set piece that younger LGBTQ kids can watch and relate to.

The final act of Love, Simon will have you both laughing and crying and it’s pleasing when a film can do that. I even found myself wiping away a tear. The finale does do a good job of tying up all the storylines together nicely while still letting the audience know that Simon journey is only just beginning. It’s a powerfully emotional and funny movie with a great cast. I highly recommend going and checking out Love Simon.

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Red Sparrow

By Brett Haynes 18/03/18

Score: 7/10

I will give this film credit, it managed to create a exploitation film and release it as a mainstream release.  The trailers made this look like we were getting a Black Widow style film but what we ended up getting is so much more intriguing and interesting.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika Egorova, a gifted ballerina who is involved in an accident breaking her leg. With no work and a sick mother to look after, she agrees to do a job for her uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts) who is a high profile member of the Russian government. The job is to seduce a suspected traitor and replace his phone in order to prove it. What follows is Dominika getting raped before her mark is brutally murdered.

Now witness to a political assassination, Dominika is given a choice. Die or become Sparrow. She chooses the latter and under takes a class that teaches her how to become a seductive agent to get information out of anyone using any means necessary. When Dominika leaves she is a completely different person and one whose allegiances are often tested throughout.

Dominika is sent to Budapest to seduce an American spay named Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) in order to give up the name of a spy in the Russian Government. Though Dominika has other plans and the twisting and turning plot sets itself into motion.

One thing Red Sparrow does from the outset is set up that this life isn’t glamorous. At no point is this like a Bond film. Spies get betrayed, they have no friends and they will do whatever it takes for their countries. Red Sparrow demonstrates this brilliantly (maybe a little to well in some cases). It shows the brutal and destructive lives these characters live. 

Everyone involved gives fine performances especially Lawrence who between this and Mother is at the best she has ever been. Joel Edgerton also gives one of his better performances.

Red Sparrow biggest problem is its pacing and length. It drags at times and really shouldn’t be as long as it is. I genuinely felt bored at times. It would soon pick right back up and show us some more fucked up imagery.

Red Sparrow is a brutal film that isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s full of sex, violence and gives us a more realistic look at the spy world. This is a beautifully shot movie and is full of brilliantly done performances.

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Death Wish

By Brett Haynes 18/03/18

Score: 4/10

To call Death Wish a remake of the 1974 film would be completely misleading as the only thing this one has in common with that one is that he looses his wife. No, this version directed by Eli Roth feels more like an ad for the NRA then a Death Wish film. To give the film its due it could have been a lot worst.

Bruce Willis plays Paul Kersey, an affluent doctor whose wife and daughter are both victims of a home invasion. His wife is killed while his daughter his placed into a coma. Kersey feeling angry and powerless decides to become a vigilante but instead of buying a costume he buys a gun and goes after criminals throughout his home city of Chicago.

He doesn’t get the gun legally even though he could (the film shows you how easy it is to buy). No, he gets one by chance and minutes later AC/DC Back in Black is blaring and we get to see Kersey training with his new weapon. What follows is a mediocre action film that see’s Kersey start taking out criminals while the morning DJ’s discusses if this is right or wrong.  This film is trying to be smart by trying to say that this wrong and showing the problems with gun violence especially in Chicago and that would be all well and good if it didn’t spend the rest of the film showing Kersey getting empowered by it.

The first time he see’s himself on YouTube he gets a high. This almost becomes like a drug to him. A lot of it comes down to the director. Someone like Eli Roth shouldn’t have directed a Death Wish reboot. Even the idea of vigilante justice shouldn’t be reduced to what Roth has done in this film.

Acting wise, everyone does the best with what they have. Bruce Willis has a few really good scenes but a lot of it is him just going through the motions while establishing shots of Chicago play more of a vital role in this film then Vincent D’Onofrio though he does bring a sense of sympathy to his character of Paul ex con brother. The action scenes are mediocre at best. Nothing imaginative happens. 

Death Wish is a mediocre action film that is directed by a man who shouldn’t be directing this. It’s tackling a topic as complex as vigilante Justice and reducing it to well if the cops aren’t doing anything. If you want to watch a Death Wish film watch the original.

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Tomb Raider

By Brett Haynes 18/03/18

Score: 7/10

I have never played the Tomb Raider games whether it is the original or the 2013 reboot (which this film is loosely based upon) so going into this I had no idea what references they made from the game, who the bad guys were or any of that. Saying all that I found Tomb Raider to be an enjoyable action adventure film which is leaps and bounds ahead of most other video game films.

Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) isn’t the kick ass adventure that we know her to be when we first meet her. It’s been seven years since her father Richard Croft mysterious disappearance and since then she has left behind the Croft manor and her fortune making ends meet by being a courier as well as embarking on dangerous stunts throughout London.

The thing stopping her from moving on is the belief that somewhere out there her father is still alive. She learns that her father had a complete different side to his life that he had hid from her for all these years. When she believed that he was off on business trips, he was actually risking his life protecting supernatural artifacts from an evil organization known as Trinity.

While Lara might not be as developed regarding her fighting or even intellectual style, she still demonstrates an understanding locating exactly where her father was and sets off to find him. Her connection with her father is her one driving force and it’s a strong one but it would have been stronger if they had shown a flashback of a scene where he wasn’t leaving. One of the two of them having fun together.

Alicia Vikander is the best part of this film. She differently brings her best for Lara and it is interesting to see her evolve as a character from rookie to kickass. There is a scene where we see Lara take her first life and just how hard it is for her. It’s an emotional scene and they shoot it very well. Walter Goggins villain isn’t really that intimidating but rather a whiny little bitch. It’s hard to believe that it takes a whole movie for Lara to beat this guy.

The movie to me felt like if someone took the plots to Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade and mashed them together. The Tomb at the end is very reminiscent of Last Crusade but done with its own charm. It really allows for Lara to be tested intellectually.

The problems that Tomb Raider has all fall with the films running time. The pacing of this film is off and it slows down completely around the halfway point. It’s a slog at times but it picks right back up when we get to one of the really impressive action scenes. These scenes allow Lara to show off her athletic ability. Things like jumping off a collapsing plane or jumping over a ridge. The action scenes are a lot of fun to watch.

Overall, Tomb Raider is a fun film. Alicia Vikander really does a good job, as Lara Croft while the final tomb is also a fun ride.

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GRINGO Review By Brett Haynes 18/03/18 Score: 5.5/10 Before I begin I will say Gringo is not for everyone. It’s a dark comedy...