Mads Mikkelsen

REVIEW: Doctor Strange (2016)

After an accident that permanently damages his hands, neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) travels the world in search of healing. He’s drawn into the world of the mystic arts and is taught the sorcery skills and the path to enlightenment by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) to protect the world.

Stephen Strange is a brilliant surgeon but an incredibly arrogant and rude man. His relationship with fellow doctor, Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), is strained due to his superiority and it only get worse as he refuses to accept that his career as a leading neurosurgeon is over. Strange isn’t a likeable character and while he does go on a journey and changes, he’s still not a particularly pleasant guy.

Doctor Strange is an origin story, and an origin story that is very similar to that of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Iron Man. However, Cumberbatch lacks the humour and charisma of Downey Jr, which means that Strange feels like a very bland hero. Humour and Cumberbatch don’t really work together, in fact the only moments of humour that really land in Doctor Strange are when McAdam’s Christine is performing surgery while a magical battle is happening around her.

The bad guy in Doctor Strange is Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen), a sorcerer who’s got dark plans. He seems like an interesting antagonist, especially when he has a dialogue with Strange, but unfortunately you don’t get to see him that much – he’s there for a fight scene and then disappears until the next one.

Doctor Strange has some incredible visuals. While there’s a fair bit of exposition to introduce the concept of multiple dimensions and the astral plane to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, when you get to see characters interact with and move between these dimensions, it’s stunning. Characters can bend reality to their will, leading to mind-bending visuals. It’s like a city is inside a kaleidoscope, and as the city folds into itself, characters are fighting with magic while contending with the constantly moving environment.

The performances are generally decent but not great unlike the spectacular visuals – but a great-looking film doesn’t make a great film. There are moments of wonder and excitement in Doctor Strange, but otherwise it’s not that memorable. 2/5.

REVIEW: Casino Royale (2006)

casino_royale_xlgJames Bond (Daniel Craig) on his first mission as 007 must defeat weapons dealer Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) in a high stakes game of poker, but things aren’t what they seem.

Casino Royale is an action-packed reboot of the James Bond franchise that’s got more emotion than its predecessors. This time around Bond has only recently become a 00 and his mission to take down Chiffre is his first so he is rather impulsive and brash. Also, since Casino Royale in some senses discards the previous films, you see a softer side to Bond as he forms a relationship with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) and how he becomes colder and more of a womaniser.

While the focus of the film and a lot of the tension comes from the poker game, Casino Royale also has some great action sequences. The opening chase sequence in Madagascar is a great example of how different Casino Royale is to the previous Bond films – it is rough and realistic and more like the Bourne films than previous high-tech Bond films.


REVIEW: The Salvation

salvation_xlgThe Salvation can be summed up in four words: Mads Mikkelsen revenge Western. It’s all you need to know really and if that sounds like your sort of thing then don’t bother reading on, go and buy your ticket now!

It’s 1871 in America and Danish soldier Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) has been eagerly waiting for his wife and son’s arrival from Denmark but no sooner that they arrive they encounter a drunk outlaw and events escalate. Jon’s actions draw the attention of the local tyrant Delarue (Jefferey Dean Morgan) who demands that amends must be paid with lives.

Mads Mikkelsen is a fantastic lead as the reluctant hero, bringing to mind Clint Eastwood in Spaghetti Westerns as he is a man of few words but you can tell what he is feeling by he’s eyes. The Salvation also stars Mikael Persbrandt as Jon’s brother who is loyal to his brother and just as much the strong and silent type. Eva Green plays a woman who is in Delarue’s “protection”, she had her tongue cut out as a child so doesn’t say a word but you can tell how intelligent and conniving she is by her actions and emotions in her eyes which is a sight to behold.

The Salvation is a beautifully shot movie and the colours burst from the screen. There’s moments of suspense as well as humour and it’s not afraid to let moments play out longer than you’d perhaps expect.

The Salvation doesn’t bring anything new to the Western genre and doesn’t have any real morally grey characters like some classic Westerns do but that doesn’t mean that it is bad for being more of a simple good guys vs bad guys film.

The Salvation is a Danish film, shot in South Africa and edited in the UK – it’s a great film in terms of international team work and because it has Danish roots it feels different to previous Westerns. That being said it still pays homage to the previous films that defined the genre.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Western and The Salvation is a nice addition to the genre. 4/5.

There’s still time to catch The Salvation at the London Film Festival – tickets can be bought here.