January Blind Spot Review: Eastern Promises (2007)

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“Anger is dangerous. It makes people do stupid things.”
– Nikolai Luzhin

SYNOPSIS: A Russian teenager living in London who dies during childbirth leaves clues to a midwife in her journal that could tie her child to a rape involving a violent Russian mob family. – via IMDB

I have been meaning to watch this for ages (imagine that?!) and decided it was time to get it off my Neflix list so I could at least move on with my life, and I have always heard how good Viggo Mortensen is in this one. Well, let me tell you, he is hands down the best thing about this movie, that’s for sure. I know Mark, another instance where you and I aren’t seeing eye to eye 😦

I found Eastern Promises to be tonally uneven, and the story skipped around too much for my liking. Not artistically, either, just messy and contrived. There were moments in this where you could totally see how great it could have been. It dealt with a heavy story and had so much more potential than it ultimately went with. Like, there were moments I sat there and I was like “wow, this could have been phenomenal“, but the execution, off-key acting and everything just bogged it down.

I like Vincent Cassel, but he just didn’t nail this down properly, and came across as more awkward than anything. Armin Mueller-Stahl is also good, and does the sinister Russian mob boss just fine, what with a more understated portrayal. Naomi Watts just didn’t really work for me – she didn’t come across as sincere at all. But then, I find that to be the case with her more often than not. That brings me to Viggo Mortensen, and holy crap, he was fantastic here. I mean, the guy is a solid actor, and this outing from him highlights that about him once again. He can rise to the occasion, and looks like he did a lot of research for this role, and he comes across as authentic. He was well worth the watch, and made the movie worth watching. 

The violence you see in this is not too frequent, and isn’t as crazy as some movies (I totally think that stupid fucking Saw franchise warped my concept of what is considered “violent” more than it was before that), and it pretty much all served a purpose, it wasn’t just random and there to be there.

Overall, I found Eastern Promises to be a movie that didn’t have the guts to go for glory, or just missed out on the vision. Not a terrible movie, but it is a rather flat affair all round, except for Mortensen, who really gets into his role of Nikolai.

Rapid Review: Jason Bourne (2016)

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“Remembering everything doesn’t mean you know everything.”
– Nicky Parsons

SYNOPSIS: The CIA’s most dangerous former operative is drawn out of hiding to uncover more explosive truths about his past. – via IMDB

jason bourne molotov

GRADE 7Long have I waited for the new Jason Bourne movie after I heard it was coming. I am sure you all know that I absolutely adore the Bourne franchise. The trailers for this looked promising, and to be sure, I was not let down. Jason Bourne was exactly what you would expect from a Bourne film – it was fast paced, featured great action and solid performances, and keeps you riveted every step of the way. While the story was not as tight for this as it has been for its predecessors, this does not make for a bad watch. I liked the way that this movie covered some of the bigger events that have come to pass since Ultimatum, and it did so effectively. Matt Damon is, of course, Bourne, and he delivered every step of the way here. Greengrass returns for this, and gives us another solid film, but I feel that the shaky cam work here was more hectic than usual, and it has been the one thing I don’t love about these movies. I am not big on shaky cam. It works for this style of film, but sometimes it is just too much, and there were more than a few times I found the camera to just be too shaky in this one, causing me to miss much of the action, etc. I was also not a fan of that death (those of you who have seen this will know what I am talking about). I saw what happened and why, it’s just so sad for me, and so unnecessary, though I knew what she was doing. It was still a shocker. I do, of course, love the consistency of these movies, and to see the right actors/actresses reprise their roles, and the events of the past remembered correctly, that’s something I appreciate. It’s the small things, you know? Jason Bourne gave us another strong female lead with Alicia Vikander helming the role of Heather Lee, though I did find Vikander to be a little stiff, and not just because her character is. I think she was a little off here and out of place, though her character is one of interest. Vincent Cassel is our dangerous Asset, the villain on the ground here, and naturally he nails the role, he is so comfortable as the bad guy. Anyway, while Jason Bourne is not as brilliant as the original trilogy, it is a worthy addition to the franchise and one I will be adding to my collection. It ticks all the boxes for what you want from a Bourne film, and doesn’t stray too far from the formula, but at the same time stays away from being stale and boring. This movie gets more hate than it deserves.

While I know the car chase is considered cliché and all that, I still had a ton of fun with it!

jason bourne las vegas car chase

Review: Trance (2013)

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“The memory is not destroyed, it is locked in a cage, and with enough force, enough violence, the lock can be broken. It comes back, the memory, not completely, not entirely, but enough to drive you, to make you feel you have been cheated, enough to make you angry.”
– Elizabeth

Simon Newton (James McAvoy) is an art auctioneer, trained to attempt to remove painting should a heist take place, though not to put his life on the line. His training is tested one day when a group of men break into the auction house and attempt to steal the painting. In the attempt to evacuate the painting, Simon runs into a man names Franck (Vincent Cassel) and attempts to stun him, which fails. Being savagely smacked on the head with a gun, Simon is out while Franck makes off with an expensive piece of art.

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“No piece of art is worth a human life.” – Simon Newton

Simon wakes in the hospital, wanting to return home, but knowing that his life is screwed. Franck is looking for him, wanting to know why his inside man went through with another script. Franck is furious to find that the stolen piece of art is not in the canvas that Simon was trying to evacuate, and pays his colleague a visit. Tortured by Franck’s people, Simon continually claims that he has no knowledge of the whereabouts of the painting. Franck tells Simon to pick a hypnotist at random, desperate to discover the location of the painting, knowing that it is in Simon’s head somewhere. Simon chooses Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) and sets off to see her, wired to transmit his session back to Franck and his men.

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“I was really good, but not good enough. And not good enough really isn’t very good.” – Simon Newton

Elizabeth soon realizes that there is more going on than “lost keys” after she looks into Simon, and makes it clear in the next session that she wants to help him. She meets with Franck and his crew and together they work on a way to try and crack his mind. Many things are tested and failing. Franck and Elizabeth soon start a relationship, which will naturally complicate things as Elizabeth is building a rapport with Simon, and suggests to Franck that she start seeing him romantically and sleep with him in an attempt to lull him into a false sense of security as well as reveal the location of the painting. However, something seems strange, and the relationship between Simon and Elizabeth seems to go back more than just his most recent visit to her as a hypnotist, which others notice though Simon does not.

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“To be yourself you have to constantly remember yourself.” – Elizabeth Lamb

Will they be able to recover the secrets locked in Simon’s mind? Will Simon ever get over his paranoia that Franck is just going to get the location from Simon and then kill him? Will he ever let Elizabeth in, and love her completely? Will the painting reappear, and will Simon ever get his life back? Will anyone figure out who is double crossing who?

I would score Trance a 7/10. I enjoyed it, quite a bit, even with multiple viewings. The film kept you guessing, but not the deep “I really need to know immediately” kind of guessing. The film had times where you were not sure which scenes were dreams, which were trance, which were memories and which were reality, which actually worked really well, joinging you up with Simon. The premise was interesting, but something that could rapidly get boring (I mean seeing a hypnotherapist to recover a stolen painting without letting her know what you are looking for? How many times can you see her before it all goes faulty?), but it was never really allowed to get dull, which I really liked. However, there were times that the thread was lost. James McAvoy delivered a great performanc, and he impresses me more and more every time. The story tried to get too clever and complicated at a stage, which made the film suffer a little, but it was no dealbreaker. I did enjoy the look of things, and the camera work was great and the film looked beautiful. I liked how it flipped between states so effortlessly. It is not a bad watch and it takes you for a fun ride nevertheless. The film really catches up in a good way and is well worth a watch.