Thursday, 18 November 2010


If you like non-stop action and suspense - without violence (impossible, you say!), have I got a film for you! And I’ll even throw in one of my favourite actors: Denzel Washington, whose last film, The Book of Eli, was a fascinating, if far too violent, post-apocalyptic film.

No violence here, like I said. And no sex or bad language either. But also no story and no real character development, so no four stars (not even three and a half). Unstoppable is about a runaway train full of toxic chemicals. That’s it. End of story. I’m not even giving anything away by telling you the whole story, because the train starts running away about five minutes into the film and it just keeps running.

This well-made suspenser, directed by Tony Scott, is certainly distracting (i.e. it probably won’t bore you). So if distracting escapism is what you’re looking for, then don’t miss Unstoppable. But if you need something more than a runaway train to hold your attention, then look elsewhere. ***

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Let me begin by saying how impressed I am by the opportunity to watch all three parts of a trilogy at the cinema in less than six months. That’s the way it should be. And, in this case, all three films were well worth watching, not least because they were so different from each other. Dragon Tattoo was a brilliant drama couched in a thriller about a serial killer. Played with Fire was an action revenge flick. Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a slow-moving conspiracy thriller. All three films were intelligent, well-written, well-acted and well-directed (the last two by Daniel Alfredson). Even the action flick had the kind of adult European feel that lifts it well above whatever Hollywood is likely to do with it. Nevertheless, the two sequels could not live up to the first film in the trilogy and both left me sighing with disappointment.

Moving away from action and serial killers to a slow-moving conspiracy film would normally be a huge step in the right direction for me. I’m a fan of suspenseful, intelligent slow-moving conspiracy films. And when the film involves people we have already come to care about (Hornet’s Nest focuses more on Mikael Blomqvist, played by Michael Nykvist, and less on Lisbeth Salander, the ‘girl’ of the title), we should definitely be verging on four-star territory. But the story just didn’t work for me. More to the point, the whole last half of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest felt anti-climactic. The conspiracy, and the way it was exposed, left me wanting much more. It simply wasn’t worth the suspense. And the ending in particular left me cold and wondering how this smart 'girl' could possibly be so stupid.

As I said, Hornet’s Nest was still well worth watching. It just could have been a lot better. Like the second film, it gets a very solid ***, verging on ***+. My mug is still up, but the contents are too bland.