Posts Tagged ‘colin firth’


In 1917, in the middle of the First World War, two soldiers, Lance Corporals Blake (Dean Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George McKay) are told to stop an Allied attack by another unit.  The Germans have pulled back to trap the allies, but the commander of that unit, Colonel McKenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) seems intent on attacking the Germans, while he thinks they are in retreat.  Blake has an older brother in McKenzie’s unit, so he has an extra incentive to get the message across.  Even though the Germans have abandoned their previous positions, Blake and Schofield still face numerous dangers, both of them get stuck in a mine where a rat steps on an unexploded mine, and buries Schofield under dirt and broken planks of wood.  It takes all of Blake’s strength to rescue Schofield, and they march onward. They stop to rest at a bucolic farm, and fill up their canteens with fresh milk.  Then something happens that changes the mission forever, what happened?  Are Schofield and Blake able to warn McKenzie’s unit before their disastrous charge?

1917 is a movie about a very serious film about an often overlooked war, but underlying the serious tone is a silly premise.  Why send only two soldiers on such a critical mission, shouldn’t those two soldiers be protected by five or 10 other soldiers?  If thousands of lives are at stake shouldn’t this critical message be transmitted by phone and telegraph as well as two low-ranking soldiers?  Even if telephone and telegraph lines are cut, isn’t there a better way to transmit this message, shouldn’t these two soldiers at least have been afforded more protection?  The premise helps to personalize the experiences of these two soldiers and encapsulate the experiences of other soldiers into Blake and Schofield’s, but putting that mission in the hands of only two soldiers, puts the film on shaky ground indeed, if these two soldiers die, then so do thousands of others, that’s an awfully big risk to be taking.  Also, the action in the movie doesn’t seem to flow naturally, the actions that dictate a major change in the film seem to come from out of left field, and the actions from that point on seem almost superhuman, and that makes the film seem more like a film than real life.  It could be a true story, it could be apocryphal, but it should have had a stronger undergirding in fact.

The acting is good.  Chapman and McKay portray these soldiers as small cogs in a big machine, but they both come from the stiff upper lip school of British acting, they don’t complain about the rats or the dirt or the lack of food and water, they just trudge on, they’re never given a chance to emote about their families, or loved ones, or the horrors that they’ve seen.  These characters are surprisingly devoid of anything that makes them relatable to the viewing audience.  Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Benedict Cumberbatch make cameo appearances to boost the star power of the film, but their characters add little to the story.

The direction is good, but gimmicky.  The film is shot in one long take, from the soldiers’ point of view, much like a much better film, Dunkirk.  This is a very visual film and with Roger Deakins’ excellent cinematography, Sam Mendes gets the visual message across, this was a messy, dirty war.  Muddy trenches, rats, exhausted soldiers, confining spaces, all give the viewer a visual sense of what the First World War was like,  but the one shot gimmick gets tired, quickly, and the viewer may wish for some cuts, just to break up the scenes a bit.  The pacing is good, Mendes gets good performances from the two leads.

1917:  A movie as messy as the war it depicts.


Eggsy (Taron Edgerton) is firmly ensconced as a member of the Kingsman.  He is being chased by Charlie (Edward Holcroft) who is a disgruntled Kingsman trainee, with a robotic arm.  Charlie fails to take down  Eggsy, but his robotic arm hacks Eggsy’s profile and gains valuable information on the Kingsmen.  Charlie works for an organization called the Golden Circle, a secret organization, headed by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) which wants to destroy the  Kingsmen.  With the information Poppy gets from Charlie’s robotic arm, she destroys the Kingmen locations throughout the country.  Only Merlin (Mark Strong) and Eggsy survive, what do the two remaining Kingsmen do with no  headquarters and only two agents?  Who is Poppy Adams, and why is she bent on destruction?

The Golden Circle starts out like many action films often do, with a high octane action sequence.  The movie lags when the exposition begins .  It is shamelessly sentimental, on many fronts, including Harry, Merlin, and   Princess Tilde.  The romance between Tilde and Eggy is so forced and unnatural, that it reminds me of how the two lovers first met, which was the worst part of the first movie.  The movie has a thinly veiled feminist justification for Poppy’s villainy, but it’s poorly thought out and realized. The writing anti-drug-in a passive aggressive way.  There are also more of the stereotypical dumb redneck characters in minor roles and major roles, therefore reinforcing a tired movie trope. Add to that that the movie is too long and way too violent, and the result is a truly boring, often redundant sequel to a passable spy flick.

Taron Edgerton is a good young actor, too good to be trapped in a crap soufflé such as this.  He was excellent in the first Kingsmen movie, as well as Eddie the Eagle, and Sing.  Hopefully he can return to more versatile roles, and can quickly erase this mistake from his resume.  Mark Strong is an established veteran actor, but he is someone who can move from role to role with little damage to his career, so hopefully he too can leave this role in the rearview mirror. I guess Colin Firth ran out of Bridget Jones sequels to make.  Julianne Moore doesn’t exude the kind of joy that is required to play a real evil villain, she seems to be going through the motions.  Channing Tatum cannot act, that doesn’t change by adding a badly executed Southern accent.  Jeff Bridges is misused, and Halle Berry is badly underused. A great cast is badly sabotaged by criminally bad writing.

The director does a good job with the action sequences, but the pacing is really slow in the scenes between, which makes a 2 hour, 20 minute movie into what seems like a never-ending dud.  The overreliance on violence is telling, violence is often a filler in a story when the writers can’t think of actual plot, and this movie is no exception. The choice of music is odd, “Take Me Home Country Roads” is an odd choice for music because it refers to West Virginia, and the American part of the movie is in Kentucky.  There is also another John Denver song in this movie, and a John Denver reference, I don’t really understand the reason for these 1970’s references in a movie almost 50 years later.

Kingsmen:  The Golden Circle.  A royal pain.


Harry Hart/Galahad (Colin Firth) is a member of an elite group of British clandestine spies called the Kingsmen.  Harry feels responsible for the death of Lee (Jonno Davies) one of his agents, in a mission gone wrong.  17 years later, a scientist named Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped by an internet billionaire named Valentine. (Samuel L. Jackson) Another agent named Lancelot (Jack Davenport  is killed in trying to rescue Professor Arnold.  Harry, still feeling indebted for Lee’s death, gets Lee’s son Eggsy out of trouble with the police. Harry recruits Eggsy (Alex Nikolov, Taron Egerton) to join the Kiingsmen.  Despite his plebian background and his inability to finish school or military service, Eggsy has potential, according to Harry.

Eggsy has to compete with several recruits including a female recruit named Roxy (Sophie Cookson), and get through the training alive.  All the while, Valentine, who seems like an innocuous internet dweeb, who believes in global warming, has a devious plot afoot to end global warming.  Along with his beautiful, homicidal sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) Valentine hatches a plan that is well underway before Harry fully grasps the scope of it. Can Harry stop Valentine and Gazelle before their plan comes to fruition?  Can Eggsy survive the training, and beat out the other candidates to become a Kingsman?

This is quite an enjoyable action spy movie.  My first thought was why does Marvel need to update the spy movie when James Bond is still roaring away?  Well, this is more an homage to the Bond films, and it even acknowledges the Bond films several times, a Kingsmen martini, there’s even a scene were Harry shows Eggsy his spy gadgets..  There are several plot twists, and lots of humor, a lot of action, an interesting plot, and enough exposition to keep the storyline clear, so there’s nothing wrong with another set of spies based in England as long as it’s well done.  And for the most part it is.

But despite all the good, and there is a lot of good, this movie does have shortcomings, these comics turned movies have developed a habit of editorializing on politics and sometimes rewriting history.  Sometimes it works, like X-Men, sometimes not, like the Watchmen. In this movie it does not, the politics are all over the map, so everyone, whatever your political beliefs, will be angry at some point. This is also, even by Hollywood standards, a very violent movie, including a disturbing scene of violence inside a church. Most of the violence was gratuitous and unnecessary, but this movie not only displays numerous acts of violence, it seems to revel in them..  There was also sexism that went beyond the requisite 1960’s spy movie sexism. Roxy, the female recruit is squeamish to jump out of a plane,  until she gets reassurance from Eggsy, she’s the top female recruit in the program,and she won’t jump out of a plane?  There is also a very crude proposal from someone who’s supposed to be a Swedish princess, I know that’s another homage to Bond, but the writers could have toned down the language, and cut the nudity out completely. These sexist lapses are odd considering one of the writers is a woman.  Oh and by the way, if Valentine’s tech savvy enough to have fingerprint recognition security, he’s not using a mainframe. Just a little tech tip for the next movie. There’s also shameless product placement, a low-point for any movie.

The acting is top notch, Colin Firth plays Harry less like Bond and more like Patrick McNee of the tv show The Avengers he’s smooth and uses his umbrella as a weapon.  Firth just exuded charm, wit and grace, and was very believable as Harry.  Samuel L. Jackson excels as the nerdy villain Valentine, given him a lisp, so he sounded like an evil Mike Tyson.  Michael Caine is Michael Kane, and he puts in a solid performance as an elder statesman of the Kingsmen.  Taron Egerton was very good as Eggsy, and gave the role a real sense of flair for a young actor. And Sofia Boutella was a standout as the villain Gazelle, she was the take no prisoners type character Roxy should have been.  Gazelle sort of reminded me of Jaws, played by Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me.  Instead of using metal teeth, Gazelle uses metal prosthetics on her legs to attack her foes. Mark Strong is also very good as Merlin. He was last in the Imitation Game, in which he gave another outstanding performance.

The direction is good, the pacing is fast, Matthew Vaughn is a veteran action movie director, who’s directed films like Kick Ass, and X-Men First Class, he gets good performances from the younger actors, like Egerton and Boutella, and creates a very stylish look for the film.

Kingsmen:  Leaves its audience shaken and stirred.



Bridget Jones (Renee Zelwegger) is 32 years old, overweight, and single.  She has made some New Year’s resolutions, to lose 20 pounds, to give up drinking and smoking, and to meet  a sensible man.  Towards that end she goes to her mom’s (Gemma Jones) Turkey Curry Buffet.  Bridget’s mom wants her to start dating Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) an available if stodgy barrister. (lawyer for those in the States) But Mark is wearing a ridiculous sweater given to him by his mom, and he’s way too uptight for the freewheeling Ms. Jones, so they get off on the wrong foot.  Bridget has eyes for her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) who is a womanizing cad, and all wrong for Bridget, but they start sending flirty e-mails, and dating and having sex regularly.  Bridget is over the moon, she’s lost weight, cut her smoking habit, and thinks Daniel is the man for her.  Daniel tells Bridget that Mark Darcy was the one that broke up Daniels’s marriage and that only confirms to Bridget that Mark is the wrong man for her.

But then, just when she thinks he life is perfect with Daniel, Daniel cheats on her with an American named Lara. (Lisa Barbuscia)  Bridget promptly quits her job, and instead of wallowing in self-pity, embarks on a career as a tv reporter and lands a plum interview with a Kurdish man fighting to stay in Britain.  She lands the interview with the help of none other than Mark Darcy, who likes Bridget despite being involved with a woman named Natasha. (Embeth Daviditz)  Bridget is starting to see Mark’s virtues instead of just his faults and just when a relationship develops with Mark, guess who pops back into the picture, but Daniel, saying he’s broken up with Lara, and Bridget is the only girl who can save her. Who does Bridget choose, stodgy considerate Mark, or exciting but unpredictable Daniel?

Bridget Jones’ Diary is my favorite romantic comedy of all time.  Let me tell you why.  Bridget Jones seems much more real to me than all the other statuesque waif types in Hollywood romantic comedies who claim to have trouble finding dates.  Bridget is overweight, she drinks too much, she smokes too much and she has no verbal filter.  That is much closer to any of the real women I know than any of these other phony romantic comedies churned out by Hollywood.  There is real comedy here, unlike the cookie cutter romantic comedies, I found myself laughing out loud at most of the situations Bridget got herself into.

There are really funny characters here and a lot of dead on-workplace humor, about co-workers you love to hate.  Perpetua the woman who is slightly above Bridget who thinks she can boss her around, the perverted Mr. Fitzherbert, who has a racy nickname, that I will not repeat here.  There’s Bridget’s mom and married friends who implore her to get married, because she’s not as young as she used to be, and then there are Bridget’s true blue friends, Tom the one hit pop wonder, Jude, the sensible one, and Shazz, who likes to punctuate every sentence with an F bomb.  They are the Greek Chorus in this film, or as I like to call them, the Geek Chorus.  There’s a lot of sadness conveyed in the humor, who can’t relate to having no messages on their answering machine, or singing “All By Myself” by Celine Dion, after spending another night alone?

The acting is great.  Renee Zellweger is outstanding, she gains weight and has such a believable British accent that one would hardly believe that she is from Texas, she plays the outlandish scenes for big laughs, the sad scenes with heartbreaking realism, this is my favorite role of hers, by far.  Hugh Grant is really good at playing a cad, because he IS a cad, and proved it in real life.  Colin Firth epitomizes the quintessential British stiff upper lip type, and fits his role to a tee.  The supporting cast is also fabulous, Jim Broadbent does his usual fantastic job as Bridget’s dad, and Gemma Jones is laugh-out-loud funny as Bridget’s mom.  The writing is great because Helen Fielding wrote the book and the screenplay, and the soundtrack is great too, I was singing along during the whole movie.

If you’re old enough please see it, if you’re not wait until you’re 17 and see it, but do see it.  This is the second time I’ve seen it, and it was just as good the second time.

Bridget Jones Diary:  No secrets here.


George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is brought out of retirement by the British intelligence agency MI6, to track down a Russian mole in the agency’s midst. A rogue agent named Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) that his girlfriend Iriina (Svetlana Kohdchenkova) knows who the mole is.  Before she can tell anyone, she is shot.  Years earlier, the head of the Mi6, Control (John Hurt) tells George that he suspects there’s a Soviet mole on the inside of Mi6, but before Control can say anything, he is killed.  A Russian agent posing as a cultural attaché named Polyakov (Konstantin Khabenskiy) is receiving the information from the mole, but who is the mole?  It is someone very high in the agency, it could be Percy Alleline (Toby Jones) Toby Esterhause (David Dencik) Roy Bland (Ciarian Hands)  or Bill Haydon (Colin Firth)  George must be careful or he will wind up like Control or Irina.

Words cannot describe how much I hated this movie.  If the pacing were any slower, the movie would be moving backwards.  There is no action, this is the opposite of an action movie, it’s an in-action movie.  The plot is incredibly dense, and complicated, when it should have been simple and easy to follow.  One character moves the story forward an inch, then another character takes over and we follow him along for a little while, and so the story plods forward for what seems like days, I only wanted it to end.  It felt like torture after a while , and a movie shouldn’t be a torturous experience.  I’m a pretty sophisticated person, I like spy movies, like Bourne, I like art-house films like the Artist but this was way too highbrow for me.  It was like an art-house spy movie, and frankly it put me to sleep.  It was directed by Tomas Alfredsson, who did Let the Right One In, which I loved, but his direction was lacking in this movie.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  This movie needs a lot of tinkering to make it worth watching.