Archive for Aaron Eckhart

Review: London Has Fallen

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2016 by Tom Austin-Morgan

london has fallen

Look at that poster. I mean, really?

There’s not much point reviewing this film in any serious way, it’s much the same as Olympus Has Fallen except even more overblown. In fact, you may as well just go and read my review of that film and replace any mention of ‘the White House’ with ‘London’ and ‘North Korea’ with ‘Pakistan’.

The plot is ludicrous, Gerard Butler’s accent is all over the shop, especially when he’s in scenes with another Scottish actor, Aaron Eckhart grimaces and grits his teeth through his scenes and Morgan Freeman is clearly only here because he needs to pay for a new kitchen.

There have been some damning reviews criticising the film for being overtly racist. I didn’t find that to be the case, certainly the antagonists are no more caricatured than the Korean terrorists in Olympus Has Fallen. But, right now nonspecific terrorists from the middle-east with no proper affiliation to internationally recognised countries are the ‘bad guys’ at the moment, just like North Korea was the ‘enemy’ of America when the first film was made.

Overall, it’s the same film, but more unwieldy. The first worked because it’s basically Die Hard in the White House. It was confined. London Has Fallen falls down – so to speak – because it has fewer restrictions. This kind of action film needs restriction to keep it on track.

If you like big dumb action films, this is fine. If you’re looking for cinematic excellence why are you reading a review of London Has Fallen?

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Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , on April 28, 2013 by Tom Austin-Morgan

olympus-has-fallen

I went into this with no expectations at all and not a lot of idea about the plot far short of the fact that the White House is stormed by terrorists and Gerard Butler takes them all out. Essentially Die Hard or Under seige (which is actually name-checked in the poster!). And that’s pretty much what I got.

The basic plot is that Butler’s character, Mike Banning, worked as one of the President’s (Aaron Eckhart) secret service aides until an unfortunate accident sees him move to a desk job. Meanwhile the South Korean Prime Minister visits the White House to talk about tensions with the North, something that has been in the news a lot recently. But in amongst the Prime Minister’s staff are North Korean terrorists who assassinate the PM and take the top brass of the US government to the bunker deep underground and begin to make their demands. While this is going on Banning rushes across town and manages to get into the White House under a hail of bullets and RPG fire.

The body count in the first half hour is ludicrous and it doesn’t stop there either, from here on in Banning begins to take out the terrorists one by one while trying to find the President’s son who is missing and being searched for by the terrorists. Here is where the similarities between this and the aforementioned action classics begins. There are bone-crunching fight scenes, knives through skulls, crashing helicopters, lots of explosions and gun fire and quite a bit of bad language and tough talk.

In actual fact this is the closest to a Die Hard film since the first Die Hard, which is a great thing as that franchise has been on a downhill slide since the first installment culminating with Live Free or Die Hard, I can’t name a single person I know who went to see that, which says a lot! This, however, I couldn’t recommend highly enough, it’s a real throwback to the 1980s/90s action films, it doesn’t take itself too seriously (though I did expect a few more quips) and really lets rip with the action sequences.

One thing I will say is that the casting of Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House of Representatives who has to step up as the President and Vice-President have both been kidnapped might have been an oversight. He is far more believable as a president than Eckhart, who actually seemed more Presidential as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight. I mean, Freeman has played a President in Deep Impact and God in Bruce & Evan Almighty!

Don’t expect much in the way of a cohesive plot, but if you want to switch off your brain and watch something really stupid, really loud and quite violent then this is the film for you.

Review: The Rum Diary

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2011 by Tom Austin-Morgan

‘The Rum Diary’ is based on a novel written by the infamous American journalist Hunter S. Thompson and appears to be semi-biographical in nature, as is the majority of his work. Also, like the majority of his work, it focusses heavily on disenfranchised characters who are often dependant on drink and drugs.

It has been a project close to the heart of producer and lead actor Johnny Depp. While living with Thompson in the late 1990s researching a role for the film version of his novel ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’ Depp was shown ‘The Rum Diary’ and urged Thompson to publish it for the first time since it was written in the 1960s. He also negotiated a film deal for it that has resulted in the film coming out this week. Depp also recruited the director and screenwriter Bruce Robinson, who had retired from directing in 1992, after having a torrid time while filming ‘Jennifer 8’. Apparently Depp was adamant that Robinson directed this film because “he had made one of the most perfect films ever”; referencing ‘Withnail And I’, which he directed and wrote, and contains a lot of the same themes as ‘The Rum Diary’.

The plot of the film follows the story of Paul Kemp (Depp), a journalist who has moved from New York to Puerto Rico to work for a small newspaper for US expats living on the island. It is revealed that the paper is failing and has stirred up a lot of tension between the expats and the native population. Most of the employees of the paper are alcoholics and Kemp gets sucked into their self-destructive world of drug abuse and illegal cock-fighting while living with the photographer, Sala (Michael Rispoli), and his feral, moonshine brewing, drug taking, Nazi-sympathising roommate, played with gusto by Giovanni Ribisi.

While working at the San Juan Star, Kemp is head-hunted by the smooth talking PR man and property developer, Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart). Sanderson wants Kemp to write advertising articles for a new hotel development on an uninhabited part of Puerto Rico; neither of his new-found careers seem to be what he is looking for as they don’t appeal to his political sensibilities and, as yet, he hasn’t found his voice as a writer. A voice which he develops in his journeys through his growing thirst for rum, his first taste of hallucinogenic drugs and his growing frustration at the class division and politicians all around him. While all this is going on he also starts up an affair with Sanderson’s girlfriend, Chenault (Amber Heard), who is scantily clad for the majority of the time she is on-screen.

There is a lot of bile in the script for this film, which is interesting as Robinson re-wrote the entire screenplay, only keeping two lines from the novel in the final script. Which shows what a masterful writer he is. In fact he took up drinking again after years of sobriety just so he could get inside the head of the booze-addled characters, a gamble with his health that has apparently paid off. However, there isn’t quite the anger at the system that fans of Thompson’s work will pick up on, though this is the story of how he finds his voice, so it can’t be expected to be as rank and seething as his later work. Though there are references to it with a snide attack on Richard Nixon while Kemp and Sala are watching the television at one point.

The film buzzes along at a fast pace, but you never get the feeling that you’ve missed anything. There are some funny set piece scenes including a drunken car chase ending in a small stint  in jail, a voyeuristic scene in which he spies on Sanderson and Chenault sharing an intimate moment in the sea and a voodoo blessing of a fighting cockerel. But quite a bit of the film feels more like a thriller with some romantic elements. All-in-all it is a miracle that this film ever made it to the screen, let alone handled with as much love and care as it has been and, I think, cinema is all the richer for it.