Kevin Bacon

REVIEW: X-Men: First Class (2011)

Mutants Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) bring together a team of mutants to stop Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) from starting a nuclear war.

I hadn’t seen X-Men: First Class in years and I’d forgotten how good it was! The casting is spot on almost across the board. McAvoy and Fassbender have such great chemistry and while thanks to Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen’s performances in the original trilogy you could sense the years or friendship and respect, seeing how Charles and Erik met and the foundations of their relationship was just great to see. McAvoy and Fassbender both do a great job of showing the younger versions of these iconic characters while still making their own mark on them. Fassbender especially is great at showing the almost warring sides of Erik as he has a single determination for revenge but also likes and understands Charles’s point of view.

The differing ideologies of Erik and Charles don’t only come into play but also Charles and Raven aka Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Having them being adoptive siblings adds this whole new dynamic to characters we already thought we knew. Raven trying to figure out who she is leads to a lot of the sort of moral conversations about trying to fit in verses being true to yourself that wasn’t always discussed so much in the original trilogy.

The whole 60s vibe on First Class is a lot of fun. The use of Gnarls Barkley’s “Run” during the montage sequence of Erik and Charles recruiting mutants fits perfectly and the score composed by Henry Jackman is one of my favourites in the X-Men franchise and helps make First Class feel like its own thing outside of the rest of the X-Men films we’d seen so far.

Having X-Men: First Class be set during the Cold War adds another level of politics to the usual dynamic of humans vs mutants. There are humans being used by mutants, mutants trying to protect humans – it’s all put together so that the final conflict is truly satisfying.

While Charles, Erik, Mystique and Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) are all characters we’ve seen older versions of before, the rest of the mutants – both good and bad – are all new to the films. Naturally not all of them get the same amount of screen time and development but thanks to good casting and chemistry between them means they, and their powers, are all fun to watch.

X-Men: First Class is the near perfect blend of action, humour and fun. The cast is great, as is the special effects and the yellow X-Men uniforms are just the best. X-Men: First Class was the perfect way to reboot/reimagine the franchise and these characters after X-Men: The Last Stand. The subsequent films with these younger versions of the characters might not all have been as impressive as First Class, but it certainly gave the franchise a whole new lease of life. 5/5.

REVIEW: Death Sentence (2007)

death sentence elenasquareeyesNick Hume (Kevin Bacon) is a normal guy with a perfect life, until one gruesome night he witnesses the death of his oldest son Brendan (Stuart Lafferty) and it changes him forever. As Nick loses faith in the judicial system, he takes matters into his own hands in order to protect his family.

The violence in Death Sentence can be a bit excessive and gory but it almost balances out well with the more emotional moments. Kevin Bacon is pretty great as Nick Hume, he does both the scared business man and the unrepentant vigilante very well. The finale sees him taking on the bad guys lead by Billy Darley (a rather intimidating Garret Hedlund) and he is almost unrecognisable both in appearance and attitude.

Death Sentence is directed by James Wan who is famous for horror films and now for directing Fast & Furious 7. I mention this because in Death Sentence there’s a scene not too dissimilar to when Paul Walker runs across the top of a bus that’s falling off a cliff and just manages to jump to safety. In Death Sentence it’s on a smaller scale and features a multi-storey carpark and Kevin Bacon. It’s a great scene and I couldn’t help but wonder if the scene in Fast & Furious 7 eight years later was thought up by Wan.

Death Sentence is a pretty paint-by-numbers revenge thriller but the action scenes are good and the soundtrack really stands out. The film’s pretty predictable and the bad guys sometimes stray into being pantomime villains, the usual violent men in gangs you always see in this sort of film.

Death Sentence is pretty violent and gory but Kevin Bacon does a good job with an average revenge thriller. 3/5.