Monday, September 25, 2017

Movie Review … Kingsman: The Golden Circle


‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ has a lot to live up to. Like most sequels, it has to have the essence of what made the first so good and yet do its own thing. That isn’t an easy thing to do as the myriad of failed sequels attest.  It’s all to do with how the story advances established characters whilst maintaining their charm which appealed to audiences.  Having the same type of stunning action and focussed direction, ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is a fair follow-up to the previous blockbuster.

Galahad (Taron Egerton) is young secret agent for the Kingsman spy network.  When its British headquarters are destroyed by a mysterious organisation called The Golden Circle, Galahad aims to find the culprits.  He follows the trail to Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) the deadly Golden Circle chief.  Needing help against the wicked agency, Galahad has help from Harry (Colin Firth) and Merlin (Mark Strong).  Together they blast their way around the world to eradicate evil-doers in fine British style.

It can’t be said ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ doesn’t go all out to entertain.  It does in spades with a myriad of gravity-defying action sequences upping the fun factor.  The performers are all having a great time as well as spouting the silly comic-book style dialogue.  Matthew Vaughn directs in broad colourful strokes with each high-octane scene looking like a comic panel.  The script occasionally feels like it’s working too hard to entertain but it achieves its aim more often than not.

Going against its pluses is a threadbare story and weak villains.  As much as Moore tries to be a classic ‘James Bond’-style baddie, she fails.  Her character rarely displays the genuine menace such villains should have.  Moore deserved better as she’s a wonderful performer as indeed are everyone in the film.  They are let down by the over-abundance of CGI-infused spectacle even if what’s on offer looks incredible.  The mix of humour and drama works and it provides grand escapism few seem brave enough to tackle these days.

‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ may not succeed in besting its forebear but it generally presses the right buttons.  It’s rarely dull and is uncompromising in following its wild path.  Whether it’s successful enough to warrant a third entry is debatable.  But as the James Bond series proves, you can never keep a good secret agent down for too long.

 
Movie Review Rating out of 10:  6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

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Movie Review … American Assassin


Based on Vince Flynn’s successful espionage book series, ‘American Assassin’ is another in a long line of ‘franchise builders’.  These movies are designed to create an ongoing series that producers hope audiences will want to see.  There have been dozens in recent years with so many making viewers dizzy.  ‘American Assassin’ does its best to craft its’ own strong narrative.  Fans of the novels should be reasonably pleased as its character-based story glides at a generally thrilling break-neck speed.

After his girlfriend is killed in a terrorist attack, Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) seeks revenge.  Enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene (Sanaa Lathan) as a black ops recruit, Mitch is put in the care of CIA veteran Stan Hurley (Michael Keaton) as his mentor.  They investigate a series of attacks on military installations leading them to a mysterious enemy known as Ghost (Taylor Kitsch).  Hell bent on starting war in the Middle East, Ghost becomes Mitch and Stan’s prime target if they want to prevent explosive conflict.

‘American Assassin’ is an agreeable time-waster without being particularly memorable.  The plot is derivative of similar films with characters of the stock-standard clich├ęd variety.  What ‘American Assassin’ has going for it are the performances and action.  O’Brien makes for an engaging lead with Keaton having a great time as a grizzled spy veteran.  They are supported by Michael Cuesta’s solid direction that makes the most of a sometimes obviously limited budget.

Whilst the ingredients are there for a marvellously exciting tale, ‘American Assassin’ often falls short.  Whether it’s the confused screenplay or lack of urgent atmosphere, it never rises above the ordinary.  It seems afraid to really let go and hit the action targets it needs to in order to conjure pure escapism.  The performances of the leads’ co-stars are occasionally weak with dodgy CGI giving ‘American Assassin’ the ‘cheap and cheerful’ look it doesn’t need.

Charting a predictable course where it should carve its own niche, ‘American Assassin’ is less than it should have been.  It does a competent job but never stands out from the crowded pack.  Hopefully it isn’t yet another failed ‘franchise builder’ as it has more potential than most for cinematic longevity.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

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Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.

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Movie Review … Victoria And Abdul




Judi Dench has made a habit of playing royalty.  Perhaps her regal presence elevates her above other actors who are unable to convey the weary majesty royalty brings.  Having portrayed Queen Victoria before in ‘Mrs Brown’, Dench created a path others have tried to match. She returns to the role again in ‘Victoria and Abdul’. Almost a sequel/remake of ‘Mrs Brown’, it gives Dench another opportunity to command all comers from her royally encrusted throne.

Nearing the end of her reign as British Queen, Victoria (Judi Dench) craves decent company.  Still mourning her husband’s passing, she longs for something more apart from regular courtiers and hangers-on.  She finds this with her Indian servant Abdul (Ali Fazal).  Striking up a genuine friendship, they explore the path each has taken that has led to their meeting. Along the way they encounter the usual problems of royalty and prestige testing their union.

From her first appearance it is clear ‘Victoria and Abdul’ belongs to Judi Dench. Without her, the movie would have had little value.  Whenever she appears the story catches fire as her character grapples with the mundanity of royal life.  How she attempts to put spark in her dwindling years is well realised in her relationship with Abdul.  His stoic determination to teach her new life lessons and stand up to stuffy traditions makes ‘Victoria and Abdul’ worth watching.

As wonderful as Dench and the cast are, ‘Victoria and Abdul’ generally feels very formulaic.  Director Stephen Frears fails to inject much passion or flair to make the predictable script different from others.  The emotional beats feel forced, as if they’re needed to add spice to a lukewarm story.  The historical details and production design is fascinating, just what’s within them isn’t very involving.  The screenplay has a manipulative air about it with the flow from point A to B seemingly contrived to bring out the requisite audience responses.

Whilst the performances are excellent with a reasonably engaging story, ‘Victoria and Abdul’ fails to linger in the memory.  There are many similar movies who have told this type of tale better. More of a bronze than silver-plated success, ‘Victoria and Abdul’ is at least interesting enough not to be sent to the proverbial cinematic tower.


Movie Review Rating out of 10:  6

Movie Review by Patrick Moore

Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.

Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia. 

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