Director: Brian Helgeland; Main Cast: Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, Taron Egerton, Christopher Eccleston, Colin Morgan, David Thewlis, ;
I had such high hopes when I walked into the cinema: London in the sixties, identical twins played by Tom Hardy, gangsters building a criminal empire in the East End… what more can a girl ask for? I was expecting Goodfellas with tea, crumpets and cockney accents but no dice, most of my dreams crushed and burned by the end of the film. The story is about the rise and fall of notorious Ronnie and Reggie Krays, how they started as street thugs, then became crime lords and finally got their just deserts. In order to better wrap up my head around this really mixed bag of a film I’ll break down my review in three parts.
The good: firstly and foremost, Tom Hardy. He’s brilliant. His portrayal of both Reggie and Ronnie is subtle, powerful and effective. With the help of a pair of glasses, some make-up and a perpetual frown, Hardy brings Ronnie to life, the most volatile and violent of the two. No glasses, soulful eyes and something between a smile and a smirk, Hardy becomes Reggie, the sensible and (occasionally) sensitive twin. I haven’t seen an actor being this convincing at playing twins since Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers. The second item on the plus column is the recreation of the locales and the feel of the period: East End and a touch of swinging London. Thirdly, Taron Egerton proves his skills as Ronnie’s boy toy, he is one to look out for. Didn’t I also mention Tom Hardy? I though I did.
The bad: the story is told from Frances Shea’s (Browning) point of view, Reggie’s girlfriend/wife. The excessive voice-over and the outsider’s (to the criminal world) perspective does not work well, keep the focus of the story too much on the personal side. For a gangster movie about famously vicious people, there’s very little carnage with the exception of a couple of lackluster confrontations. The film lacks verve and charisma, which is a pity considering the possibilities given by the source material. In addition, the viewer is supposed to sympathise with Frances but that doesn’t work very well either, Browning’s solid performance notwithstanding.
The ugly: Chazz Palminteri’s face. The plastic surgery has turned it into a wax mask and he lost his presence and menace as Italian mobster (and his ability to move his facial features).
Director: Pierre Morel, Main Cast: Cyril Raffaelli, David Belle, Tony D’Amario, Dany Verissimo-Petit, Bibi Naceri;
“1997 Escape From New York” meets “48 Hours” with a hint of “Transporter” (no surprise there, since Luc Besson is one of the writers), it sounds good on paper, I know, but all that glitters is not gold as it’s the case with this film. First we meet Leito (Belle), who lives in the titular banlieue, a degraded neighbourhood with run-down high rises at the outskirts of Paris. He’s a tough guy but he tries to protect the honest people of his district from the rampaging thugs and gangsters led by Taha (Naceri). Then the viewer makes the acquaintance of Damien (Raffaelli), Cpt. Tomaso of the Parisian police, who is tough but fair, works alone and is always respectful of the law. Both guys have Jet Li fighting skills and are champions of urban acrobatics, which makes the action scenes frenetic and impressive. Naturally they will pair up, not liking each other at the beginning, to save the day or, more precisely, Paris from Taha’s evil plan. In this testosterone fest we also get Lola (Verissimo-Petit), Leito’s sister, and almost as badass as him. She ends up, of course, being a prisoner and leverage but also instrumental in the final showdown (girl power!). First independently and later together, Damien and Leito will fight their way up the rungs of the thugs’ hierarchy to get to the bad guy and stop him, in a overly used and very predictable plot. The film is overdone and take itself too seriously, which is a little uncharacteristic for Besson. The complete lack of humor dooms it and makes it a boring flick, adrenaline-fueled scenes notwithstanding. Tedious —4/10
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Main Cast: Jon Bernthal, Milo Ventimiglia, Neal McDonough, Alexa Davalos, Robert Knepper, Edward Burns;
Frank Darabont tries his hand at TV again (after The Walking Dead). This time it is about gangsters and cops in L.A. in the late forties and, let me tell you, it is a cloyingly sweet love letter to the noir genre. You get all the cliches: the grey cop, the femme fatale, the righteous policeman, the fixer, the corrupt cops, the mob boss, the ruthless hitman, the shady bar, the glamorous nightclub, blackmailing, tons of night scenes and rain puddles (in L.A.? sure!). The attention to details into recreating the noir genre is borderline OCD but it is an empty exercise, the story is flat and rather boring. Notwithstanding the brave efforts of the actors and the lovely soundtrack the six episodes end up being uninteresting and predictable. Pity, it completely missed the mark. Watch L.A. Confidential to see how it’s done right. —5/10