Jamie Bell

REVIEW: Rocketman (2019)

A musical biopic about Elton John’s (portrayed here by Taron Egerton) life as he makes a name for himself in the world of music.

Rocketman is a fantastical, over the top musical and it totally works as a way to tell the story of Elton John’s life. Given the time span of the film, there’s certain events that are no doubt abbreviated or missed out completely, but you do get to experience the rise and fall, and rise again of Elton John’s career, relationships and life. Rocketman hits all the usual biopic clichés but it’s easy to forgive it for that as it hits them with the full force John’s discography and a magical take on this man’s life.

Taron Egerton is brilliant as Elton John. He captures the many facets of John’s personality wonderfully, the anger, the love, the despair and the joy, it’s all there to see. Egerton’s minute facial expressions show the conflicting emotions as his relationships become strained as he goes into a downward spiral of drink, drugs and sex. His singing is great too, with echoes of John’s distinctive voice while never imitating it.

Jamie Bell and Richard Madden also deserve recognition for their work here. Bell plays John’s long-time song writing partner Bernie Taupin and he is full of charisma as he and Egerton have such chemistry that even though their relationship is purely platonic (and seeing two men openly say they love one another in a mainstream film is great) you can feel the love and respect they have for one another. Madden portrays John Reid, Elton John’s manager and boyfriend, and he’s perfectly charming yet calculating.

Rocketman is joyful and fun though it never shies away from the darker side of Elton John’s life. The dialogue can be cheesy but with the full-on musical numbers, outrageous costumes and brilliant performances make Rocketman a fantastically weird yet wonderful experience. Rocketman manages to juggle and unite all its contradictions, it’s silly yet serious, earnest yet outrageous but overall it is really quite wonderful. 5/5.

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REVIEW: 6 Days (2017)

In April 1980, a group of gunmen stormed the Iranian Embassy in London, taking hostage all those inside. Over six days there’s a tense standoff between the police and the hostage takers with the threat of the SAS being sent in to take back the embassy hanging overhead.

The action follows three main characters and their experiences. There’s police negotiator Max Vernon (Mark Strong) who must keep the gunmen’s leader Salim (Ben Turner) on the phone and try to keep the hostages alive while the politicians, army and police try to come up with a plan of action, SAS Lance Corporal Rusty Firmin (Jamie Bell) who is one of the team leaders of the squadron preparing for the assault and journalist Kate Adle (Abbie Cornish) who reports from the police cordon outside the Iranian Embassy. You’re introduced to these characters on the first day of the siege and get very little background information about them upfront. This means you are really relying on the actor’s performances to pull you in and they succeed in doing this.

There are many false starts for the SAS team as they get ready to attack before something happens and they’re told to stand down. You can feel the rise and fall of the tension and for a film with little action till the end, it does a good job of building the suspense and keeping you right there with these characters. When you see the SAS finally storm the Embassy it is a set piece that really pays off.

Even though 6 Days does little to change the formula of these real story thrillers, it works with the usual tropes and makes a solid, enjoyable film. It’s snappy 90 minutes runtime certainly helps as there feels to be little filler, instead focussing on the characters, their preparations and the rollercoaster of emotions they experience in such a short space of time. It might be generic, but 6 Days is an immersive and satisfying film. 3/5.

REVIEW: Snowpiercer (2013)

snowpiercer elenasquareeyesSet in a future where the world is in a new ice age and all life on the planet has died except the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe. On the train a class system emerges where people like Mason (Tilda Swinton) control the train and those at the tail end struggle to survive.

Snowpiercer is a phenomenal film. That might sound like a bit of an over-exaggeration but it’s really not. It does a great job building this desolate world and the class system on the train that you can believe in and accept all the characters and their motives. Curtis (Chris Evans) becomes the sort of leader of the people from the tail end of the train, he is the one who puts their plans into action and makes the tough choices. You learn more about him as the film progresses and really his journey through the train is a much a physical one as a mental one.

You could say there’s some typical characters for the genre, there’s the wise old man (John Hurt), Curtis’ right-hand man (Jamie Bell), the tough mother figure (Octavia Spencer) and the silent genius (Kang-ho Song) but through brilliant performances and an interesting script, they become more fleshed out and compelling.

The action sequences in Snowpiercer are gripping and well shot. The fights are all in such a confined space that it sometimes gets claustrophobic and the violence really is brutal. The cinematography is also worth a mention, the way colour is used at various points of the film is interesting and it really is like another character in the film.

The film does a great job at showing that actions have consequences and people will die. It may be a sci-fi film but it has a great social commentary amongst the action and the dialogue and chemistry between the characters is one of the highlights of the film.

Snowpiercer is an amazing film that everyone should watch and it’s really one of those films that work even better if you go into it knowing as little as possible. 5/5.