The trailer for New Zealand’s newest comedy crime caper Lowdown Dirty Criminals has today been released ahead of its nationwide theatrical release on August 20 by Monster Pictures.
Directed by Paul Murphy (Second Hand Wedding, Love Birds), the film features an all-star cast led by James Rolleston (Boy, The Breaker Upperers) and Toi Whakaari graduate Samuel Austin. The lead duo are joined by Rebecca Gibney (Wanted, Packed to the Rafters), Robbie Magasiva (Sione’s Wedding, Wentworth), and Cohen Holloway (Hunt for the Wilderpeople).
Produced by Lowdown Productions and written by David Brechin-Smith(The Insider’s Guide to Happiness, The Cult), Lowdown Dirty Criminals follows two young men in search of a better life, encountering unsavoury situations and people along the way. When Freddy (James Rolleston) loses his job, he and his best buddy Marvin (Samuel Austin) naively conclude a life of crime may lead them to the wealth and standing they desire.
But when they mess up their first job, a sequence of hilarious and violent events snowball out of control, leading them to their most intimidating enemy yet, The Upholsterer (Rebecca Gibney). The ensuing chaos caused by her two henchmen Semo (Robbie Magasiva) and Roy (Cohen Holloway) on their hunt to find the boys forces them to reconsider their careers as criminals.
Excited to get back onto the big screen as a lead and bringing the same charm and innate sense of humour he brought to BOY, James Rolleston comments on the film: “I could imagine myself playing the character of Freddy as soon as I read the script. It was absolutely awesome working with such a talented cast and crew. There were a lot of laughs on set and I’m really grateful to be a part of such a fun film.”
Robbie Magasiva adds: “I can honestly say I have never had so much fun on set – we were constantly laughing. This cast and crew put a smile on my face every day.”
For Logie award winner Rebecca Gibney, the role of The Upholster, changed from a male to a female with her in mind, was unlike anything audiences have seen her in. In fact, it was the first time in her career she has said the F-word on screen. “The script is so wonderful, it just jumps off the page. I’m relishing every line I have to say!”
Director Paul Murphy is also looking forward to sharing the film with Australian audiences, commenting: “Bringing Lowdown Dirty Criminals to life on the big screen was an absolute joy right from the start. It was a privilege to work with such a stellar cast and crew and I’m confident audiences are going to love this buddy-comedy and its eclectic characters.”
Filmed on location in Wellington, Lowdown Dirty Criminals is financed by the New Zealand Film Commission, with additional support from Avalon Studios, Global Film Solutions and Hell Pizza. It is produced by Robin Murphy and Sadie Wilson for Lowdown Productions, and executive produced by Catherine Fitzgerald (Bellbird, OneThousand Ropes, The Orator). The film is distributed in New Zealand and Australia by Monster Pictures with international sales handled by MPI Media Group.
Summary: The biographical story of musician Jeremy Camp.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 12th March 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 19th June 2020
Australian VOD Release Date: TBA
Director: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin
Screenwriter: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin, Jeremy Camp (book)
Cast: Timothy James Adkinson (Pete Nelson), K.J. Apa (Jeremy), Cameron Arnett (Doctor Furst), Nicolas Bechtel (Jared), Rushi Birudala (Raj), Tanya Christiansen (Jannette), Abigail Cowen (Adrienne), Reuben Dodd (Josh), Hali Everette (Megan Henning), Gregory Hobson (self), Anjelah Johnson-Reyes (Professor Rochester), Marshall Meeker (Yves La Joie), Katie Anne Moy (Jacqueline), Sahjanan Nasser (Maria), Nathan Parsons (Jean-Luc), Britt Robertson (Melissa), Melissa Roxburgh (Heather), Terry Serpico (Mark), Gary Sinise (Tom), Shania Twain (Teri)
Running Time: 116 mins
Classification: PG (Australia)
OUR I STILL BELIEVE REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ I Still Believe Review:
Becoming a teenage heart-throb is the dream of every young actor. But while the pull of stardom is very strong reaching that heart-throb status is never a guarantee of a long and successful Hollywood career.
Flash back to the late 1990s and Dawson’s Creek was the biggest show on television. Its male stars – James Van Der Beek, Joshua Jackson and Kerr Smith were on posters on every teenage girl’s wall around the world. Today all three are lucky to get small roles in television shows and B-Grade movies.
The next actor following in those foot-steps is young star K.J. Apa. The New Zealand local has risen to stardom as the star of Netflix’s very own Gothic teenage mystery show Riverdale where he plays comic book legend Archie Andrews, while his new film I Still Believe opens in cinemas across Thailand this week.
Apa’s movie career to date has been successful from a critical point of view. Films like A Dog’s Purpose and The Last Summer have certainly earned him more fan attention while his work on the gritty The Hate U Give gave him a chance to show the world his acting ability. I Still Believe sees Apa’s career take a whole new direction though… a direction that many of his young fans probably didn’t see coming – the starring role in what many people would label a faith-inspired film.
In I Still Believe Apa plays Jeremy Camp – one of the world’s highest selling Christian musicians. The movie follows Camp’s life from the moment he leaves the country-side home of his parents (played by Gary Sinise and Shania Twain) and heads to college. It is there that he meets musician Jean-Luc (Nathan Parsons – The Originals) who recognises Camp’s musical ability and starts him out on his career.
From there though things don’t exactly go the way that Camp wants them to. First he and Jean-Luc find themselves competing for the affection of the same woman – the beautiful Melissa (Britt Robertson – Tomorrowland). But even that doesn’t run a smooth path when Melissa is diagnosed with cancer and is soon battling massive odds to just survive.
Unlike many ‘religious’ films I Still Believe doesn’t come across as a preachy film. While both Jeremy and Melissa’s faith is there for all to see the film also explores themes of a hope and love as it depicts a young couple facing one of the biggest challenges of their lives. The screenplay also brilliantly allows the plot to explore the story of a man who begins to doubt his own faith as the odds stack up against Melissa.
While many religious films are also plagued by soap-opera style writing and bad acting that certainly isn’t the case with I Still Believe. Directors Andrew and Jon Erwin (October Baby) doesn’t hold back at all with this film. The audience will find themselves tested as the plot causes you to start to think about your own beliefs and how you would cope in circumstances where it appears that your partner may not survive. While Camp is a Christian the film would cause people of any faith or belief to look deep inside and explore how they would react in the same circumstance.
Likewise the directors also test their young stars. Britt Robertson is at times unrecognisable as she plays the terminally ill Melissa but the acting tour-de-force here is Kapa. In Riverdale we have had to watch Kapa deal with the death of his on screen father, which was brought about due to the off-screen death of actor Luke Perry, and once again here Kapa is put through an absolute acting wringer. Some of the sequences here as Camp goes through a personal and faith-driven breakdown would have been brutal and emotionally-toiling on Kapa. To the young star’s credit though he pulls them off with ease and many of his scenes have the power to have the audience in tears. If there was any question at all over whether Kapa had the acting ability to forge a career outside of Riverdale this is the film that proves the world his is oyster.
I Still Believe may be an emotional viewing for some audience members, but it is well worth packing the box of tissues and sitting through. A thought-provoking and challenging story-line mixed with a young star putting in the performance of his young career makes I Still Believe one of the biggest surprises of 2020.
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Jinga and Second Sight are pleased to announce the UK release of Brian and Laurence Avenet-Bradley’s multi-award winning supernatural horror ECHOES OF FEAR. Starring Trista Robinson (The Human Race), Paul Chirico (Penny Dreadful:City Of Angels) and Marshal Hilton (Primal Rage) ECHOES OF FEAR is available now on all digital platforms and will be released on DVD August 3rd.
ECHOES OF FEAR follows a young woman who encounters ghosts in a house she inherits from her grandfather. They lead her to a basement where she discovers her grandfather has been hiding a terrifying secret.
ECHOES OF FEAR has screened in over 20 festivals worldwide and won Best Film at Shreikfest, Another Hole In The Head, Buffalo Spring and Nocturno. Distribution rights have sold to over 30 territories including Turkey where it was theatrically released on 104 screens.
“If you’re looking for a good example of a low budget horror film that achieves worldwide distribution then look no further than ECHOES OF FEAR” said Jinga’s CEO Julian Richards. “The directors know how to build suspense, there are plenty of jump-scares and a great twist ending“.
Jinga and MVD Entertainment are pleased to announce the US release of Steven Spiel’s supernatural horror NAZI UNDEAD starring Andy McPhee (Wolf Creek) and Georgia Chara who recently won Best Actress at Fantasporto. NAZI UNDEAD is available from July 28th on DVD, Blu-Ray and all digital platforms.
NAZI UNDEAD is a nightmarish horror about a young American couple who venture into the heartland of Germany for a romantic holiday. Things take a sinister turn when they encounter the ghost of a Nazi SS Officer at an isolated farmhouse thrusting them into a vortex of horror.
“It’s a time looping supernatural thriller for fans of Triangle, Timecrimes and the House At The End Of Time” said Jinga’s CEO Julian Richards “It Pays homage to modern horror tropes while still pulling off something fresh and exciting”
Written by Lisa McGee (Derry Girls, Being Human, The White Queen) and Tobias Beer and produced by New Pictures, the production house behind The Missing and Catherine The Great, the four-part drama was filmed in Northern Ireland and Cambridge.
A compelling, sinister narrative of lust, manipulation and betrayal, The Deceived follows English student Ophelia (Emily Reid, Belgravia, Curfew), who falls in love with her married lecturer, seeing in him all the answers to her needs. When their affair is interrupted by a shocking and tragic death, Ophelia finds herself trapped in a world where she can no longer trust her own mind.
Emmett J. Scanlan (Gangs of London, Peaky Blinders, Butterfly, The Fall) plays the timelessly attractive and charismatic English lecturer Dr Michael Callaghan; Catherine Walker (Shetland, Versailles) plays his wife Roisin, a successful, award-winning fiction writer; Eleanor Methven (Little Women) plays Roisin’s devoted and sometimes overbearing mother Mary Mulvery; Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones, Derry Girls) is Michael’s father Hugh fighting the oncoming tide of dementia; Shelley Conn (Liar) plays Roisin’s best friend Ruth, intelligent and loyal; Dempsey Bovell (Patrick Melrose) plays Matthew, Michael’s confidante and biggest admirer, and Normal People star Paul Mescal is Sean McKeough, a local builder who becomes Ophelia’s confidante.
The Deceived is directed by Chloë Thomas (Harlots, Victoria), produced by Imogen O’Sullivan and executive produced by Charlie Hampton (The Spanish Princess), Charlie Pattinson (Catherine the Great, The Missing), Lisa McGee and Tobias Beer.
The Deceived premieres 4 August only on Stan, same day as the U.K. – with new episodes weekly.
Good news for Aussie motor sport fans: Stan has announced that the new documentary feature film Brabham will be available exclusively on Stan from Friday 7 August. A brilliant new account of a racing dynasty and the price of immortality, Brabham reveals both the making of an icon and a son’s quest to overcome conflict and fulfil a legacy.
Exposing the media’s role in creating sporting myths, Brabham tells a David and Goliath tale of a homegrown hero pitted against the giants of Ferrari, Lotus and Maserati. Jack Brabham remains the only person to have won the F1 Driver’s and Constructor’s Championships in his own car. Greatness, however, comes at a cost – the strain between Jack and his youngest son David portrays two generations of men determined to define themselves on their own terms. The challenges of family legacy and the determination to see the Brabham name reborn are key drivers to this dynastic drama, as the Brabham marque stands poised to challenge international motor sport once more.
“The story of Jack Brabham is not simply a tale about what it takes to get to the top of the game, in this case motor racing, it is an unflinching personal account of the tenacity and engineering prowess it took to turn, what was considered a fanciful dream, into reality,” says director and co-writer, Ákos Armont.
“Our aim has been to deliver an insightful examination, warts and all, of how Sir Jack managed to defy the odds and emerge as one of the great innovators of his generation and one of the most celebrated Formula One drivers in history.”
Featured in the documentary are never-before seen interviews with some of the world’s greatest motor sport legends and heritage racing personalities including; Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Bernie Ecclestone, Ron Dennis, Mark Webber, David Brabham and the surviving members of Sir Jack’ s 1966 Championship winning team. The frank insights and revelations of these participants offers a fresh look at the Brabham legacy and the birth of modern Formula One.
Taking the audience on a rollicking adventure of brazen youth, ingenuity and daring through depression era Australia, into London’s swinging 60s and on to the aftermath of the excesses of speed in the ‘deadly 70s’; the film follows one of the greatest stories of sporting success the world has ever known while ultimately asking the audience to consider the often fraught relationships between fathers and sons, the cost of fame and how the media creates sporting mythologies.
Brabham is directed by Ákos Armont (Aurora Films) who also co-wrote both the film and Harpers Collins companion book Brabham: The Untold story of Formula One along with renowned motoring author, Tony Davis. Armont and Antony Waddington (The Eye of the Storm) also co-produced, with Jonathan Shteinman acting as Executive Producer. Brabham was produced in association with Heckler and with the support of foundation partners the Australian Grand Prix and the Australian Racing Drivers Club.
Summary: An older couple’s friendship grows as they meet each day to walk their dogs.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 20th July 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian VOD Release Date: TBA
Director: Paul Morrison
Screenwriter: Paul Morrison
Cast: Graham Cole (Jimmy), Bob Goody (George), Dave Johns (Dave), Marsha Millar (Marsha), Oliver Powell (Saul), Natalie Simpson (Donna), Vivienne Soan (Chaplin), Alison Steadman (Fern)
Running Time: 102 mins
Classification: M (Australia)
OUR 23 WALKS REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ 23 Walks Review:
From the outside 23 Walks looks like it is going to be a run-of-the-mill romance between two older member of our society. How looks can be deceiving though. Scratch under the surface of 23 Walks and you discover a brilliantly written film that packs quite a punch as it explores social topics that many other films would shy away from.
The film centres around David (Dave Johns – I, Daniel Blake) and Fern (Alison Steadman – Pride & Prejudice) who innocently meet while walking their two dogs on the moors near their homes. At first Fern is stand-offish with David but as the two begin to meet each day and walk together they become closer friends. The fact that they both have secrets that they keep from each other has the potential to de-rail their friendship though as things come out into the open.
Even a brief read of the synopsis of 23 Walks makes it feel like a film that we have all seen a million times over. The key to getting the best out of the film though is to go into the cinemas knowing nothing about the twists and turns that the film takes as David and Fern’s friendship begins on its journey. It is hard to imagine but if you don’t know what those twists are then this film rides with you with the energy of a suspense rather than a drama.
The power of this film comes completely from the screenplay of director/writer Paul Morrison (Little Ashes). Writing like this is a rarity in films these days. The dialogue between David and Fern at times seems so natural that you would swear that is has been ad-libbed rather than scripted, while the many turns that the plot takes are in no way sign-posted. The result is that as an audience you get the shock and emotional slap that the characters endure as the surprise is revealed to them.
Much like Dave Johns previous film I, Daniel Blake this is a film that explores some pretty deep topics. From looking at what happens when somebody in public housing is ‘moved on’ by the council through to what happens when family members disagree with their aging parents getting involved in a relationship. This film goes deep but never bogs itself down by trying to preach and falling into the trap of getting political. Often a film involving older members of society will also try to portray them in a ‘perfect’ light, 23 Walks never does this – in fact it does the complete opposite and exposes both David and Fern as having emotional hang-ups that make them far from perfect.
As a filmmaker Morrison also knows the power of the expression ‘less means more.’ Scenes such as Fern’s ex getting angry when he realises that Dave has stayed over or Dave’s daughter telling him off over his relationship with Fern stick with you as the film goes on, but Morrison knows that in order for that to happen he doesn’t have to repeat the does ten times throughout the film. Instead the one time it happens is so brilliantly written that it hits the mark and stays there.
The great script also allows Dave Johns and Alison Steadman the chance to shine. Grouped together with his performance in I,Daniel Blake Johns shows that he is a likable actor who is afraid to take on confronting roles – one again he deserves to win awards for his work here, anything else is just wrong. Likewise Steadman was born to play Fern. She plays her uneasiness to a tee and like John makes her character likable to the audience despite her flaws. Together the two pull off two of the best performances you will see in cinema this year.
Thought-provoking, dramatic and at times intense 23 Walks is the perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge a film before watching. The film comes from one of the best screenplays of 2020 and gives its two leads the opportunity to pull off some sensational performances.
Hardin will always be… Hardin. But is he really the deep, thoughtful guy Tessa fell madly in love with— or has he been a stranger all along? She wishes she could walk away. It’s just not that easy. Not with the memory of the passionate nights they spent together. Still, Tessa’s not sure she can endure one more broken promise. She’s focused on her studies and just starting an exciting new internship at Vance Publishing. She’s also being pursued by Trevor, a handsome new co-worker who is exactly the kind of guy she should be with. Hardin knows he made a mistake, possibly the biggest one of his life. He wants to right his wrongs and overcome his demons. He’s not going to lose Tessa without a fight. But can he change? Will he change… for love? AFTER WE COLLIDED… Life will never be the same.
AFTER WE COLLIDED is directed by Roger Kumble and stars Josephine Langford, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Dylan Sprouse, Shane Paul McGhie, Louise Lombard, Candice King and Charlie Weber.
AFTER WE COLLIDED releases in Australia in theatres on September 10, 2020.
Summary: The owner of a luxurious resort invites a group of people to spend time at the resort and live out their ultimate fantasies with horrific results.
Australian Cinema Release Date: 13th February 2020
Thailand Cinema Release Date: 2nd July 2020
Australian VOD Release Date: 3rd June 2020
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Screenwriter: Jeff Wadlow, Jillian Jacobs, Christopher Roach
Cast: Jeriya Benn (Lila), Kim Coates (Devil Face), Joshua Diaz (Alejandro), Portia Doubleday (Sloane Maddison), Evan Evagora (Nick Taylor), Parisa Fitz-Henley (Julia), Lucy Hale (Melanie Cole), Ryan Hansen (J.D. Weaver), Robbie Jones (Allen Chambers), Goran D. Kleut (Valet Milton), Andrew Lees (Will), Edmund Lembke-Hogan (Himoff), Josh McConville (Sarge), Charlotte McKinney (Chastity), Michael Pena (Mr. Roarke), Maggie Q (Gwen Olsen), Josh Randall (Valet Chester), Ian Roberts (Dr. Torture), Michael Rooker (Damon), Nick Slater (Greg), Austin Stowell (Patrick Sullivan), Mike Vogel (Lieutenant Sullivan), Mark Weinhandl (Pig Face), Tane Williams-Accra (Fischer), Jimmy O. Yang (Brax Weaver)
Running Time: 109 mins
Classification: M (Australia)
OUR FANTASY ISLAND REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ Fantasy Island Review:
It is always a weird feeling when you like a film that other people seem to dislike. You always feel like you want to defend the film to the hilt, but the same time you can’t help but wonder if you are horribly wrong. The best way to look at it is that you like what you like and as long as you like it it doesn’t really matter what others think.
This whole scenario recently happened with me when it came to Blumhouse Productions re-working of Fantasy Island. Now I am not going to sit here and say that it is film of the year or one of the best horror films ever made, but if you’re looking for a horror film that will entertain you for a couple of hours then this is a film that will not disappoint.
For anyone who watched the original Fantasy Island television series the concept here may be a little strange. Fantasy Island never traditionally had a horror feel to it, but here director Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare) and his team give the story a warm welcome into the Blumhouse horror universe.
The film centres around the mystical island run by Mr Roarke (Michael Pena – Ant-Man). It is an island where people go to live out their fantasies and the latest group to have arrived includes jaded youngster Melanie Cole (Lucy Hale – Pretty Little Liars) who dreams about getting revenge on those who bullied her at school and two brothers Patrick Sullivan (Austin Stowell – Whiplash) and Brax Weaver (Jimmy O. Yang – Crazy Rich Asians) who dream of living the life of the rich and famous.
It is here where the film first runs into its major hurdle. See that list of characters above could have almost filled this page. Aside from the ones I have already mentioned there is Maggie Q (Divergent), a wannabe solider who wants to learn about his father and a crazy man who seems to appear out of nowhere but wants to warn everybody about the dangers of the island… and even then that isn’t everyone. Yes the problem here is that there are just way too many characters in this film, at times it even becomes difficult to try and keep track of who is where.
What is a shame is that when the film keeps to its horror roots it is ten time the film it is when it tries to do things a little bit differently. There are scenes that depict Melanie getting revenge on a High School bully that is reminiscent of a Saw movie and it times like that when the film works its best. When Fantasy Island sticks to the basics and remains a simple film about an island where people’s fantasies quickly become nightmares it is a film that captivates its audience and draws it in. However, when the film tries to get too smart and interweave stories while bringing in a convoluted supernatural plotline that I still can’t get my head around it trips itself up and becomes a film that is simply trying too hard.
If the film had kept to the storylines involving Melanie, Patrick and Brax it would have been an absolutely brilliant horror film. Those are the storylines that you end up being drawn to the most and seeing those fantasies become nightmares for those involved is more than enough to have the audience wondering whether Mr. Roarke has a hidden sinister, psychopathic side or if something supernatural is at work. The rest of the story threads that the writers have tried to infuse into the film are just unnecessary overkill.
Also enhancing the film are some of the acting performances at hand. Michael Pena is perfectly cast as Mr. Roarke and for all those naysayers out there who were taking swipes at the film before it was even released no he is not playing a character that is meant to represent Tattoo, the role made famous by Herve Villechaize in the original television series.
Also shining in their roles are Austin Stowell and Jimmy O. Yang who bring their A-Games to a film that you wouldn’t expect it in. As actors they are put through a true wringer of emotions as at times they become the comedic relief for the film but then at other times they are called to do some action sequences and moments of horror as well. It is a well-rounded acting performance that you certainly don’t expect in a film like this.
Last but not least there is the amazing performance of Lucy Hale. Grouped together with her performance in Truth Or Dare Hale is now rightfully considered one of the best up-and-coming actresses in Hollywood. Like some of her co-stars here she is put through a range of emotions of this film and clearly shows why she is only a few steps away from becoming an A-Lister.
Fantasy Island does have some major weaknesses but there are times throughout the film where it is a genuine popcorn horror that has the ability to entertain its audience. While one of the weaker Blumhouse films from recent years it is still certainly a film that is worth a look.
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Summary: A group of immortal mercenaries discover a new recruit just as they find themselves being ‘hunted’.
Australian Cinema Release Date: TBA
Thailand Cinema Release Date: TBA
Australian VOD Release Date: 10th July 2020
Director: Gina Prince-Blythewood
Screenwriter: Greg Rucka
Cast: Joey Anash (Keane), Peter Brooke (Sergeant Wright), Simon Chandler (Father Sykes), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Copley), Majid Essaidi (Sadeq), Tuncay Gunes (Nelson), Steve Healey (David Eves), Aanya Hirdaramani (Savatt), Jordan Holland (Ashton), Natacha Karam (Dizzy), Marwan Kenzari (Joe), Kiki Layne (Nile), Anamaria Marinca (Dr. Meta Kozak), Luca Marinelli (Nicky), Harry Melling (Merrick), Van Veronica Ngo (Quynh), Shala Nyx (Gita), Olivia Ross (Celeste), Matthias Schoenaerts (Booker), Orlando Seale (Jean-Pierre), Charlize Theron (Andy), Mette Towley (Jordan), Micheal Ward (Lykon), Andrei Zayats (Andrei)
Running Time: 125 mins
Classification: MA15+ (Australia)
OUR THE OLD GUARD REVIEWS & RATINGS:
Dave Griffiths’ The Old Guard Review:
One of the winners out of the worldwide cinema lockdown has been streaming service Netflix. Many may have expected the service to sit back and simply count their cash as more and more people took up memberships to alleviate the lockdown boredom. Instead Netflix have decided to use this period to flex its creative muscle and once again show Hollywood that they well and truly ready to swim in the big pool now.
Of course last year the streaming platform showed that when it came to serious cinema they were well and truly in the fight when they created and released the Oscar nominated films The Irishman and Marriage Story. Then earlier this year Netflix showed it was ready to enter the blockbuster market when it released Extraction starring one of the world’s most recognisable actors, Chris Hemsworth. Now they show that was no fluke by dropping another popcorn-worthy blockbuster The Old Guard with Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road).
There is really only one way to describe The Old Guard – a thinking person’s blockbuster. Based on a four-part graphic novel series The Old Guard centres around a group of immortal mercenaries led by Andy (Theron). While the group are eagerly trying to find the whereabouts of a new ‘immortal’ Nile (KiKi Layne – If Beale Street Could Talk) they also realise that their latest mission, tasked to them by Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave), was a set-up designed to bring them out into the open. It is there that mystery begins – who is Copley working for and why does it seem that he wants them captured?
It is a pretty basic plotline but together director Gina Prince-Blythewood (The Secret Life Of Bees) and screenwriter Greg Rucka (Whiteout) have managed to create an action-thriller that goes a little bit deeper than many would have expected.
Of course you have your action scenes. And while they may lack the visual brilliance of the ones in Extraction they are more than serviceable as Theron lays waste to enemy after enemy. But where The Old Guard trumps many other films in the action genre is when its plot takes it into deep themes such as how difficult it is to live with immortality, someone facing the fact that they are going to die sooner rather later and the ethical debate of whether medical science can really ever go too far. You could also possibly argue that another major ethically dilemma raised in the film is whether the owners of pharmaceutical companies are really in the business for their consumer’s health and well-being or whether or not it is all about the mighty buck. Yes, as you can see The Old Guard does indeed raise some pretty spicy and thought-provoking questions.
The Old Guard does work as a stand-alone film you do feel that a few scenes have been included to try and kick-start this as a franchise. While Andy’s flashback memories are a great way to show how she has suffered due to persecution and her immortality over the years they also serve as a way to introduce other characters you feel will return in the sequels.
Luckily that doesn’t distract too much from what works in this film. Casting wise Theron and the actors in her crew work remarkably well. The film also showcases the talents of Kiki Layne who seems to embrace the chance to play a character torn between who she can trust while trying to get her head around a world that she never knew existed. Fans of the Harry Potter franchise will also get a pleasant surprise when they get to see Harry Melling, who portrayed Dudley in the Potter-verse, turn up as the film’s Bond-like villain.
Of course The Old Guard is not going to reach the lofty award-winning heights of its stable-mates The Irishman and Marriage Story. Aimed at a different audience this is a film that will enjoyed by those who enjoy comic-book movies while showing the cinematic world that streaming services can now hire big name stars and place them in movies that can really pack a punch.
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