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The Kingsmen: A review

The trailer for this film made it look like it was going to be very funny so I went with my usual group of friends to see it.

kingsmanThe film started off in the manner I expected, at least until someone was chopped in half. Then it went back to the silly gentleman spy movie I was expecting for the most part (there was quite a bit of swearing but not masses). I laughed a fair bit and was generally entertained. The film really didn’t take itself seriously and there was even some funny product placement.

This is sort of when the film took a turn I hadn’t quite expected. Colin Firth walked into a church, the bad guy trialled his destruction machine. Then there was a scene filled with violence and mayhem that might have been watchable had it cut away sooner or been a little less obvious with the sick violence of it as well as about a tenth of the length. By the time I was a third of the way through the scene I wasn’t really watching anymore and was hoping it would stop, by the time I was two-thirds through the scene I was sitting in disbelief and starting to motion to my friends that I wasn’t comfortable. As it was we were starting to discuss leaving when it finally stopped.

Kingsman-The-Secret-ServiceWe honestly hoped this was a one off and would go back to the gentleman spy spoof the trailer made us expect, but it wasn’t entirely and there were a few more distasteful scenes later as well, although they tried to make the gross violence funny. I actually wish I had left and never finished it, or even better, never bothered to see it, and I think there’s only about five films I’ve ever watched I wish I’d never seen.

It felt a lot like the film was going for the cheap shock of violence and gross fights to surprise the audience because the makers couldn’t be bothered to do so with the story and characters instead. And given who was involved in making it (something I didn’t realise until after) I’m not that surprised. They’re other films have the same feel.

In short I don’t recommend anyone seeing this, it was quite simply, disgusting.

The Citizen: A Review

This is an ebook I was given by the author, Matthew McCollum in return for my review.

This is a shorter novel told in first person present, which is handled well throughout the book, and a sort of conspiracy spy sort of story.  The main character is on the run from the goernment and the chapters flip between present day and two years earlier, when it all began.

The start of this story wasn’t as good as the end as I felt it focused a little too much on masses of conspiracy theories and possiblities and it felt a little like it was ramming home the idea that guns should be allowed in the US, something that I find bizarre when I’m in UK and we’ve never had guns available. But when it got past that part it really felt like it could be a believable theory for what’s going on.

I noticed my pet peeve, of the phrase ‘I could care less’ over ‘I couldn’t care less’ at one point in the book as well, but it was only the one occasion.

The book’s not perfect but it kept me entertained and I wanted to keep reading. The end was also interesting and much better than I was expecting. I’d definitely consider reading more if there was a series of them.

The Tourist: A Review

I finally succumbed and checked out what was meant to be one of the worst Johnny Depp movies of all time.

I wasn’t totally thrilled when I heard the news Depp and Jolie were going to be working together. They’re both pretty amazing in the sorts of films they normally do together and I just wasn’t quite sure their special own brands of magic would work that well together.

Also I remember there being sum hoo-ha over a shower scene between the two of them (which was cut from the TV version I saw, if it ever made it into the cinema release) and Mrs Depp not liking the combination much either, probably due to the way Jolie picked up her last two partners, although she does seem pretty settled with her current fella so that may have just been an unfortunate coincidence.

But back to the film. The plot was so-so. Fairly standard action/spy plot with no way near enough explosions. Jolie did pretty much no action sequences at all and I think that’s some of the issue. Her action’s usually fantastic. The whole time in this she was pretty much aloof and uninvolved. I know to some degree the character is meant to be this way but I just didn’t buy it.

In terms of Depp I could also see what he was trying to do. He mostly came across as this gorgeously sweet, bumbling math teacher who was out of his league and paunfully aware of it. And sometimes this was brilliant. He seemed shocked in all the right places and uncomfortable in all the right places, but he also seemed uncomfortable in all the wrong places. It was like he was on his guard all the time and the infatuation between him and Jolie just never came through when it was meant to. Even in the few  times they kissed.

I actually found myself a little sad at the end of this film. I really wanted to love it. I even got quite excited when Paul Bettany appeared and I could enjoy the gorgeous Jarvis voice (Iron Man’s software), and then I got excited again when Rufus Sewell appeared, but it just didn’t quite have me convinced enough to love it. I was entertained well enough for the evening but not swept away. Oh, and I totally saw that ending coming!

Skyfall: A Review

This is the third James Bond film with Daniel Craig as the main character and it came out to celebrate 50 years since the first ever bond film. For a series where there’s no logical explanation why the Bond character changes appearance every now and then it’s doing remarkably well with it’s format and I was eager to see yet another in a quintisentially British series.

The first two with Daniel Craig in, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, were both prequels and both a little dissapointing. Casino Royale being the better of the two as Quantum of Solace just felt like any other standard revenge film and not the different swaggering spy movie Bond normally delivers.

This third one was the same and also delivered us with a prequel, thankfully, no where near as dissapointing. I had found out, not long after the previous Bond film that Daniel Craig actually played Bond much more like the original author intended, which helped me to try and see it from the author’s eyes. In Skyfall I think Craig really came into the role and It completely redeems him for me as a great Bond.

The plot was fantastic and I loved getting to see a bit more of Bond’s previous life and childhood as well as a modernisating effect on the whole team behind him. I was also kept very amused by the references to the old films and hints at beginnings of habits we know Bond well for, like his shaken not stirred drink and his habit of ignoring the rules, tests and anything else anyone tried to give him boundaries with.

On top of all that the support acting was fantastic. The villian felt believably psychotic and had me thinking he really might get to achieve his nasty plot before 007 could stop him, even though a part of me knew Bond always comes out on top. M was again superb but Dench is one of the best actors we have so no real surprises there. The actor who stole the show for me though, was Bérénice Marlohe, who played Sévérine, the trafficked girl owned by our bad guy. Her fear at being in his power and her trepidation at wanting to hope Bond could rescue her had me on the edge of my seat. I’m sure it helped that I’m passionately against trafficking and know more about it than the average person but for me her fear and emotions in those few scenes were so perfect.

However, the only major downside with the film was what happened next with Sévérine. As is normal in a Bond film, he gets to sleep with someone at somepoint (occasionally more than one person). Unfortunately they picked our broken trafficked girly as the one to fall for Bond’s charms but that just wouldn’t happen. No trafficked girl ever feels like they can jump right into the arms of another man just because he ‘might’ be able to rescue her. Especially when they’ve only just met.

Had they not been so unrealistic I think I’d be chalking this down to the best Bond film ever, but I just can’t quite bring myself to do so. Even with the fantastic settings, including the house, skyfall (to the left), I just couldn’t quite forgive it for this slip up.

I will be looking forward to the next Bond film, however, and I hope they don’t keep us waiting long. I’ll also be adding this one to my film collection, I just might have to fast forward the shower scene to keep myself calm.

Trade: A Review

Trade by Tareq Hassan is a book that I picked up as part of an indie reviewers circle. It’s cover and blurb had me totaly suckered into checking the book out. I generally love myself a good spy book, especially if there’s some action in there as well as investigation sort of stuff.

Unfortunately that was pretty much where my love ended. Now don’t get me wrong for a foreign writer the English was pretty darn good. There was the odd word or two that seemed odd but for the most part the book was written in as good an English as I manage.

The problem was in all the jargon and dialogue the characters used. I just couldn’t understand the conversations and what half the characters were saying and therefore who worked for who and what they thought of everyone else. I also couldn’t at all work out what some of the characters had to do with the plot, or even what the plot seemed to be, except something to do with 9/11, a legal firm, drugs and muslims that might become terrorists.

I got so frustrated that I put the book down for a few days about 25% of the way in and tried to come back to it later. I then managed to get about 40% of the way in before getting more confused and putting it down again. When I gave it it’s third try I only got to 42% before I just really couldn’t go any further.

The final straw for me was a scene where one of the characters who was introduced earlier called Danny (I think it said he was from MI but I can’t remember and I think it should have been MI5 or MI6 rather than MI) showed up at 10 Downing Street and just walked in to talk to the Prime Minister. I thought just walking in was a bit odd but didn’t think too much of it until the conversation between PM and Danny started. The PM spoke like an American and a very crude one at that. I’m sorry but I just couldn’t imagine Gordon Brown or David Cameron talking like that.

I know the PM is much more polite when he’s in front of the cameras but they still speak very differently to the standard yank. They most definitely don’t say ass for one. I’m fairly sure it’s arse.

As a result I have my first ever did not finish. I’m sorry I just really can’t believe this book anymore.