Category: Drama

Summary: A cop seeking redemption finds himself the only thing protecting a group of people in a condo building from a gangster on a deadly mission.

Year: 2020

Cinema Release Dates: 13th August 2020 (Australia)

VOD Release Dates: 30th June 2020 (USA)

Country: USA

Director: Michael Polish

Screenwriter: Cory Miller

Cast: Kate Bosworth (Troy), Will Catlett (Griffin), Stephanie Cayo (Jess), Blas Sien Diaz (Migs), Leslee Emmett (Mrs. Gradisher), Mel Gibson (Ray, Rey Hernandez (Lt. Cunningham), Emile Hirsch (Cardillo), Jesy McKinney (Babie), Jerry D. Medina (Chuy), Ryler John Olson (Dillon), Jasper Polish (Jasmine), Anil Raman (Aaron), Joksan Ramos (Cruz), Jorge Luis Ramos (Bergkamp), Geoff Reeves (Greg), Xavier Reyes (Ernesto), Johanna Rosaly (Mrs. Consuelo), Luillo Ruiz (Super Louie Joe), Swen Temmel (Hodges), Sebastian Vasquez (Pride), Julio Ramos Velez (Bennie), David Zayas (John The Baptist)

Running Time: 91 mins

Classification: MA15+ (Australia), R (USA)

OUR FOCE OF NATURE REVIEWS

David Griffiths’ Force OF Nature Review:

Mel Gibson! Even a mention of his name is enough to divide cinema lovers around the world. You have some people who have blacklisted him – they don’t want to watch anything he is involved with because in their eyes he committed an unforgivable sin. Then on the flipside you have some film fans who have to the conclusion that Gibson, as both an actor and a director, has created some of his best work after being ‘unofficially’ made untouchable in Hollywood.

Love him or hate him Gibson (Braveheart) is back on the big screen this time playing retired and terminally ill cop Ray in the brand new crime thriller Force Of Nature. Gibson though isn’t the centre-piece of this film, far from it actually. No, that role is filled by Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild)who plays Cardillo, a disenchanted Police Officer who moved to South America after a tragic workplace accident that he has never been able to recover from.

Cardillo uses the excuse that he doesn’t speak Spanish to ensure that he is kept behind a desk as he can’t ‘trust’ himself back out on the street again. That all changes though when a hurricane bears down on the city where he is stationed and his boss orders him onto the street alongside the ambitious Jess (Stephanie Cayo – Yucatan) who tells him that all they have to do his help people evacuate. That plan goes to hell though when they are called out to a disturbance that soon sees them arrive at the condo building where residents including Ray and his daughter, Troy (Kate Bosworth – Blue Crush), are refusing to evacuate – but that becomes the least of their worries with the arrival of ruthless criminal John The Baptist (David Zayas – Skyline) who knows a secret about the building – a secret that he is willing to kill for.

Okay, let’s be honest Force Of Nature is a ‘dumb’ film. It is the kind of film that you can watch and completely tune out of without having to think too much… and there is nothing wrong with that. Yes, the screenwriter, Cory Miller (Just One Look) tries too hard to make this a serious film by putting in stories that trace back to Nazi Germany, but somehow the director, Michael Polish (Northfork), salvages the film and makes it watchable.

Polish makes the condo building feel like a claustrophobic tomb and somehow uses ridiculous plot elements, which include a giant, ferocious, man-earitng cat in an apartment, work. He knows that deep down at the core of this film there is a basic story. A cop seeking redemption has to save the day against the bad guys. Somehow, Polish pushes all the most ridiculous things about the film to the side and makes this a simple shoot em’ up where the audience wants to see Ray win the day and get the girl – it doesn’t matter if it is Jess or Troy… he just needs to get the girl.

Polish’s aim is made even easier by the fact that Hirsch brings his A-Game as he slips into the boots of Cardillo. Hirsch makes Ray likable and someone obviously forgot to tell him that this is a dumb B-Grade movie because between falling off balconies, shooting bad guys and scaling the sides of his buildings he manages to put in some moments of great acting that have no right being in a movie like this. The same can’t be said about Gibson though who coughs and wheezes his way through his role with one of the most unconvincing coughs in cinematic history… a surprise given what an amazing actor Gibson usually is.

Force Of Nature is nowhere close to an award winner, but if you are looking for a straight-forward action thriller that isn’t going to make you think too much – then it is perfect. Polish’s slick directing gives the film the feel a TV show like Miami Vice while the screenplay is overly-ambitious but works when it needs to. It’s a wild and often wet (thanks to the hurricane) ride but it certainly won’t leave you bored.

Dave’s Rating Out Of 5:

Average Subculture Rating:

IMDB Rating:

Force of Nature (2020) on IMDb

Other Subculture Force Of Nature Reviews:

Nil

Trailer:

Summary: A successful bank robber wants to start a new life with the woman that he loves. But dobbing himself into the FBI doesn’t go as he had planned.

Year: 2020

Cinema Release Dates: 5th November (Australia), 13th October (Thailand), 23rd October (UK), 16th October 2020 (USA)

VOD Release Dates: TBA

Country: USA

Director: Mark Williams

Screenwriter: Steve Allrich, Mark Williams

Cast: Jai Courtney (Agent Nivens), Jeffrey Donovan (Agent Meyers), Jasmine Cephas Jones (Beth Hall), Liam Neeson (Tom), Patty O’Neil (Sharon Baker), Robert Patrick (Agent Sam Baker), Anthony Ramos (Agent Hall), Kate Walsh (Annie), Birol Taran Yildiz (Boss Mike)

Running Time: 99 mins

Classification: M (Australia), 15 (Thailand), 15 (UK), Pg-13 (USA)

OUR HONEST THIEF REVIEWS

David Griffiths’ Honest Thief Review:

At 68 years of age you could forgive actor Liam Neeson if he wanted to slow down. The good news for film lovers is that Neeson isn’t showing any sign of wanting to jump out of the fast lane any time soon. In fact while most actors have been starved of cinema time in 2020 Neeson is so hard working that he has two films released despite the pandemic.

Earlier this year we had a chance to watch his comedy Made In Italy and now we see him return to his more familiar crime thriller genre with Honest Thief. But be warned if you are expecting to see Neeson pull out his acting A-Game like he did in Schindler’s List or turn all Taken action star – think again. Honest Thief is very much a film that wasn’t too sure what it wanted to be.

Directed by Mark Williams (A Family Man) Honest Thief finds Neeson playing Tom, a gifted bank robber who has amassed $9 million in takings from a decade long crime spree that has left the FBI completely bewildered.

That all changes though when Tom meets the lovely Annie (Kate Walsh – Grey’s Anatomy) when she sells him storage space. He instantly falls in love and as the pair decide to settle down Tom hatches up a plan that will see him dob himself into the FBI and hand back all the money that he stole in return for a short two year jail sentence. It all sounds great in theory and probably would have worked if the Agent who turned up to make the deal wasn’t the corrupt Agent Nivens (Jai Courtney – Terminator Genisys).

Yes, reading through the plot you can see that Honest Thief sets itself up to be a Fugitive style thriller, but sadly something went horribly wrong in the screen-writing of this film. It seems that somewhere along the line the team of screenwriters, Williams and Steve Allrich (The Canyon) became unsure whether this should be a thinking person’s thriller or an all action affair with car chases and shootouts. The result is a film that has a confusing, mixed pace to it that closely resembles more of the B-Grade films that Allrich normally writes than a film that is worthy to have acting royalty like Liam Neeson in it.

Don’t get me wrong – the story does work and characters like Tom, Annie and Nivens are interesting enough but there is a huge problem with the pace of the film. It will go from a heart-pounding tense scene with Tom facing off against Nivens straight into a six minute dialogue driven snooze-fest scene between Tom and Annie. It feels like lighting a campfire and then pouring water on it before anyone has time to cook the marshmallows.

That certainly wasn’t what I was expecting from a film with Williams at the helm. Over the past couple of years Williams has shown with his producing that he is normally attracted to gritty projects. Shows like the amazing Ozark and the amazing Ben Affleck led The Accountant have led us to expect quality product with Williams attached to it, but with Honest Thief you are left wishing that more grittiness could have been injected into it.

The lacklustre screenplay means you never really get to see Neeson in full flight but he does enough to make you like Tom as a character and you are hoping that justice is served in his favour. The real winner here is Courtney. Like he did with Buffaloed earlier this year he relishes the opportunity to play the bad guy and is never over-awed with the scenes that he shares with Neeson. With the body of work that he has amassed over the past few years Courtney is becoming one of the most intriguing actors in Hollywood at the moment.Honest Thief is certainly not one of Liam Neeson’s best films but some Neeson is better than no Neeson at all, right? In a year where we have all been starved for cinema release films Honest Thief may just attract more fans than it normally would.

Dave’s Rating Out Of 5:

Kyle McGrath’s Honest Thief Review:

Kyle’s Rating Out Of 5:

Average Subculture Rating:

IMDB Rating:

Honest Thief (2020) on IMDb

Other Subculture Honest Thief Reviews:

You can read our review of Honest Thief that appeared in The Phuket News here.

Trailer:

Summary: A cosmonaut returns to Earth with an alien creature attached to him that leaves the experts baffled.

Year: 2020

Cinema Release Dates: N/A

VOD Release Dates: 3rd November 2020 (Australia)

Country: Russia

Director: Egor Abramenko

Screenwriter: Oleg Malovichko, Andrey Zolotarev

Cast: Oksana Akinshina (Tatyana Klimova), Fedor Bondarchuk (Colonel Semiradov), Aleksy Demidov (Kirill Averchenko), Pyotr Fyodorov (Konstantin Veshnyakov),Alexander Marushev (Convict Ruben), Anton Vasilev (Yan Rigel), Albrecht Zander (Convict Seryj)

Running Time: 113 mins

Classification: MA15+ (Australia), 15 (UK)

OUR SPUTNIK REVIEWS

David Griffiths Sputnik Review:

There is a hidden gem inside the cinematic world that most film lovers have no idea even exists. It is the world of Russian cinema – or to be more accurate the world of Russian blockbuster films. I have had the privilege of exploring this world full of amazing films due to the Russian Film Festival that is held annually in Melbourne… and to be honest it is something that I look forward to ever year. Thanks to that festival I have had the joy of discovering Russian blockbusters like Metro and August. Eighth – blockbusters that I have to say could teach Hollywood a thing a two about how to make well-written, brilliant looking epics.

Now comes Sputnik – a Russian sci-fi horror with real bite. A film that I enjoyed from start to finish o much so that I am already looking forward to a second viewing. Directed by Egor Abramenko (The Passenger) Sputnik takes us back to the 80s with the space race still in full swing. Cosmonaut Konstantin Veshnyakov (Pyotr Fyodorov – The Blackout) is a national hero, but all that changes when he is the only survivor after an accident in space and he disappears from the public eye.

Now Konstantin finds himself being kept prisoner while a team led by Colonel Semiradov (Fedor Bondarchuk – Stalingrad) investigate the ‘alien being’ that has latched itself to him. With the team lost for answers they call unconventional psychiatrist Dr. Tatyana Klimova (Oksana Akinshina – The Bourne Supremacy) to work on Konstantin and see if she can ascertain exactly what has happened.

To me Sputnik is not only set in the 1980s it also takes me back to a time when directors like Ridley Scott were giving us decent sci-fi horrors rather than the films that are served up today that are light on horror and light on comprehensible or entertaining storylines. Plot-wise Sputnik is as basic as it comes, despite added storylines in there revolving around Konstantin abandoning his son etc, yet somehow it is still better than films like Prometheus that were so complicated it felt like they were trying to change human history. There is nothing convoluted about Sputnik and the result is an enjoyable sci-fi that also doesn’t hold back on the horror element. It has you on the edge of your seat and has a plot that you can really sink into it – at the end of the day you really can’t ask for much more from a genre film.

My biggest hope after watching Sputnik is that someone gives Abramenko a ticket to Hollywood and his pick of what film he would like to direct. His style of directing here shows that he has all the skills that made directors like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg so exciting when they were young and creating edgy sci-fi that didn’t hold back on gore and originality. Abramenko is an untapped talent in mainstream cinema and it is about time we got to see what he could do with an international cast and a budget with a few extra zeroes on the end of it.

What I also enjoyed about the film was the fact that the screenplay allows for some interesting interactions between the characters without everything being an intense horror scene. Some of the moments where Tatyana is interviewing and treating Konstantin are just as intense as the ones where the creature is on the loose. This type of filmmaking should really be a staple in every film but sadly it is becoming a lost art so it is nice to see it resurface in films like this. Dark, foreboding and intense Sputnik is a welcome throwback to the films of the 80s and 90s that made me fall in love with genre films in the first place. This is a brilliant piece of cinema that hopefully a wide audience can discover.

Rating Out Of 5:

Average Subculture Rating:

IMDB Rating:

Sputnik (2020) on IMDb

Other Subculture Sputnik Reviews: Nil

Trailer:

 

Love or hate him Jesse Eisenberg has become one of the most important and diverse actors of modern cinema. His over seventy acting performances in cinema and theatre has seen him play roles as vast as one of DC Comics most well known villains in the form of Lex Luthor, a zombie hunter in the Zombieland franchise and of course Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the award winning film The Social Network.

Perhaps though it is Eisenberg’s most recent role that has most touched his heart. From Jewish descent himself Resistance sees Eisenberg play legendary mime Marcel Marceau before he found fame – at a time when he rescued and protected thousands of Jewish children during the Nazi invasion of France during World War II.

“The unfortunate thing is that Holocaust films always seem to resonate with modern day audiences,” says Eisenberg when asked whether or not the events in Resistance are things that audiences today can easily relate to. “With themes like racism, prejudice and tribalism and brutality they are things that still exist today…. unfortunately. More acutely while we were filming The Tree Of Life synagogue shooting happened in Pennsylvania, my neighbour’s from across the street sadly had their friends there at the time. Luckily they survived but that showed that anti-Semitism still exists and it reared its head while we were filming the movie.

While the film does look at one of the darkest times in human history Eisenberg says he does believe though that the film does have a silver lining.

“I think one of the nice things about the movie though, is that is about a guy who is unlikely hero who is a civilian who ends up becoming this important person without ever intending to be,” he explains. “I think it really does speak to us all and what we have the ability to do now. The world might be a crazy and chaotic place right now but this movie shows someone that uses their own skill set, which in this case was being mime – the last guy you would think could be helpful during a war – to help others. That makes me think about how we are calling people heroes today that we would never have three months ago. You re-look and redefine what bravery is and I think this movie clearly shows that.”

There has never been a shortage of powerful Holocaust era films over the years with films like The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and Schindler’s List being considered classics while even last year the powerful yet quirky Jo Jo Rabbit reduced many people to tears and Eisenberg says as an actor he understands why filmmakers are drawn to making films about this time period.

“I think there are millions of reasons why filmmakers want to make films about this era,” he says slowly. “I can only speak for myself though, but when I was about twenty years old I started to research my family’s history and I discovered that my cousin who lives in Poland was a survivor of the War and I started to learn more about her story more intimately… I had even met her a couple of times when she had visited New York.”

“But then I went to Poland and stayed with her,” he says continuing his personal story. “And I learnt about her story and her story to me just felt like this unbelievable miracle and also included people like Marceau who were selfless but put their own lives on the line to protect and save people like her and her survival when she was a little girl and I wrote a play about that. It is a kind of Holocaust play but it is my take on it because it is a contemporary play and it talks about both modern day culture and the Holocaust, so to me when somebody says that there are a lot of stories that have been told about the Holocaust it is because different stories tell different themes. The thing I wrote is about a really important time in my family’s history and I thought it was important to tell.”

He goes on to say that he believes it was very similar for the writer/director of Resistance Jonathan Jakubowic. “I think for Jonathan he grew up hearing these stories because his family were Holocaust survivors and some of his family actually died in Krakow during the Holocaust so he felt like he had a thick connection but he did want to approach the story of a different angle so he told the story of Resistance by telling the story of an artist who come to terms with his inner kindness and comes to terms with a way to create his art in the worst possible circumstances so you could say that rather than being a Holocaust film it is the story of an artist with the Holocaust as a back drop.”

 

Resistance is currently unrated in Thailand but is for adults and is currently available on a number of streaming platforms.