The Adjustment Bureau
I really liked this film, in large part because it turned out completely differently to what I’d expected. I was expecting hardcore sci fi and traditional Philip K Dick mindbending, less so a very traditional love story anchored by two outstanding performances and a script which the writer/director never has anything other than full control over. It’s a clever, witty sci fi romp(will Terence Stamp demand Damon kneels before him?), the chemistry between Damon and Emily Blunt is downright electric and if it doesn’t both make you think and pull at your heartstrings in the best way by its end, you’re a cold, heartless bastard.
9/10 because it’s clever, has heart and Matt Damon at his very best.
I’m not sure what all the fuss was about – although it starts with huge potential, very little of it is realised. Is it a crime drama? A semi-documentary look at a family of criminals? A morality play? It’s never clear and quite frankly it’s an annoying failure. It takes a very long time to get to a very obvious ending, and it might have been wiser to have given Guy Pearce (without whom the film would never have been made) a role which actually mattered to the narrative.
There’s far too little substance and far too much padding, and when the actors are called to up the ante it never quite comes together. Most of the performances are quite impressive – Jacki Weaver in particular, but the film loses its way for no apparent reason, largely because James Frecheville’s central character’s motivations and behaviour rarely make sense.
5/10 but largely because of its potential than what it manages to do.
Battle: Los Angeles
Don’t expect any attempts to reinvent the wheel in this wholly by-the-numbers humans v aliens war movie. Good lead Aaron Eckhart may be, but he’s better than his material. Having said that it’s a fun look at interstellar war from the grunts’ point of view, although the movie is about nothing else than the fighting. There’s a bit of irritating jingoism thrown in, but no attempts at characterisation other than that. Enjoy it for what it is rather than what it isn’t. The SFX is pretty good, the adrenaline high it offers is pretty cool, and you never care about a single character. It’s largest fault is indeed an absence of charm.
7/10 because it’s fun rather than because it has anything to say about anything really.
A great and occasionally inspiring attempt to dramatise the grudge match between Ambassador Joe Wilson, his wife Valerie Plame and the Bush White House. It comes across as stridently left wing, but it’s adapted from the couple’s own accounts of the actions of Scooter Libby, Karl Rove (presumably) and potentially higher up in outing Plame as an undercover CIA agent (a serious criminal offence). The acting is top notch, particularly by Naomi Watts, and it’s a brave attempt to inject an element of suspense into an otherwise suspense-free story. Ultimately although it’s a slightly outdated indictment of the rampant criminality at the heart of the Bush Administration, it’s quite depressing and the ending is painful – citizen activism to keep the republic true to its founding principles isn’t exactly working, is it?
8/10 because it’s extremely worthy, even though it clearly knows it.
The Lincoln Lawyer
A delightful, back-to-the-basics courtroom drama, showcasing Matthew McConaughey at his best in nearly 15 years. Ryan Philippe is his client who may or may not have attempted to murder a call girl. But what does McConaughey do when it turns out Philippe has been killing and framing people for years, and then starts to move on to McConaughey himself? The acting and writing are top notch – cinema has needed more material like this for some years, and it doesn’t hurt that the stars are very pretty indeed…
9/10 because films should all be this fun, and not grim & gritty like The American all the time.