Samuel L. Jackson

REVIEW: The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Top bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is called in to protect hit man Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) who must testify at the International Court of Justice to put away war criminal Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). With Dukhovich’s men on their tail, they have to work together to get there on time, if they don’t kill each other first.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a lot of fun. There’s fewer laughs in the first 15mins compared to the rest of the film so I was a bit uncertain to start with but once it had set up who’s who the film sped along at almost breakneck speed.

For a film that’s two hours long, it really doesn’t feel it. It goes from one action sequence to the next, and while there are moments when there’s a lull in the action, it allows for funny conversations between Bryce and Kincaid. These sometimes aim to be touching, with Kincaid talking about how much he loves his wife Sonia (Salma Hayek), but they verge on being cringey sometimes though they’re nearly always funny. The conversations and banter between the two really show how good their chemistry is between Reynolds and Jackson. Them two being an unlikely team is what really works in this film. Bryce and Kincaid push each other’s buttons and they both grow while still both being good with their fists and a gun. They’re the kind of characters that are polar opposites and who like to think they don’t need any help, but they really do and that’s where the humour comes.

My initial Twitter review of The Hitman’s Bodyguard was “it’s ridiculously fun and stupidly funny” and to be honest that’s the best way to describe it. It’s over the top and ridiculous, with a lot of laugh out loud moments and some great shootouts, fights and car chases. All this stuff mixed together and with great chemistry between the unlikely duo makes for a good time at the cinema (or in front of the TV if you wait for the DVD). 4/5.

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REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

A team of scientists led by Bill Randa (John Goodman) aided by a unit of soldiers led by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) set out to explore an uncharted island in the Pacific but they soon find themselves outgunned as they venture into the domain of the mighty Kong.

Kong: Skull Island is a lot of fun. It’s an action/war/monster movie hybrid that manages to work most the time. It’s an action movie with colour! Not to the same extent of films like Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) and Pacific Rim (2013) but enough to make it noticeable in a good way. The stuff it does with smoke, fire and shadow is also brilliant, the scale of Kong and the other creatures living on the island comes across great and the film knows how to amp up the suspense.

Kong is brilliant. The scenes with him smashing helicopters or creatures are thrilling and then there’s the quieter moments when you see Kong just going about his life and being a good King. It’s brilliant animation work and every moment he’s on screen you can’t take your eyes off him.

The cast is a proper star-studded cast. Some have more to do than others, for instance Tom Hiddleston’s James Conrad is a tracker and is ex-SAS who does seem to be pretty amazing at everything he turns his hand to, while the majority of the soldiers are expendable and don’t always have decent character beats. Brie Larson was great, she played Mason Weaver a war photographer who thinks there’s something up with the expedition and she has good chemistry with pretty much everyone on screen. That being said, a lot of the characters are archetypes. That might not work for some people but it worked for me, most still have a moment where it makes you care about them and you only need

There are jokes in Kong: Skull Island, some fall flat especially at the beginning when it seems as if the film is finding its feet, but the rest of the time they work for the most part – or if they miss the mark, there’s so many monsters and fighting going on then you don’t really notice. The jokes do become more frequent when we meet Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) and his lines tend to work more often than not.

The soundtrack is also worth mentioning. It’s great, full of popular songs from the 1970’s but they don’t always fit what’s happening on screen – there’s only so many shots of someone switching on a record player to show why there’s suddenly some David Bowie or Creedence Clearwater Revival playing before it comes a little tedious.

Kong: Skull Island is great fun. The CGI is ace, the action scenes are fun and exciting and it’s pure, fun entertainment for less than two hours. Oh and there is a post-credits scene and it’s worth sticking around for. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Hateful Eight (2015)

the hateful eight posterIn post-Civil War Wyoming in the dead of winter, bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) take shelter in a cabin already occupied by a collection of nefarious characters. No one is who they seem and John Ruth must protect his bounty till the blizzard passes.

The Hateful Eight is Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film and if you know anything about Tarantino and his type of films, you’ll kind of know what to expect from The Hateful Eight. There’s a lot of swearing, a lot of fast-talking, and a lot of violence and blood. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but what it does, it does well.

Joining John Ruth and Domergue in the cabin are Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) another bounty hunter, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) a man who claims to be the sheriff but no one really believes him, Bob the Mexican (Demián Bichir), Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) the hangman, General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) a quiet old man with a grudge and Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) a shifty-looking cowboy. All these characters together in a small space lead to an explosive showdown. However, the problem is that it takes a long time for them all to come together in the cabin. The first third or so of The Hateful Eight dragged as it was incredibly dialogue heavy and you only followed a couple of characters. Once everyone was together in the cabin, you got to see how all these different characters interacted and bounced off each other and that was the true delight in The Hateful Eight. (more…)

REVIEW: Big Game (2014)

Big-Game-poster-Samuel-L-Jackson-722x1024Thirteen-year-old Oskari (Onni Tommila) is taking part in a rite of passage in the Finnish woods when he discovers the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson) when Air Force One was shot down overhead. Together they must survive the forest and the men who are out to kill the president.

Big Game is funny, though you’re not always sure if it’s being intentionally funny or if it’s the typical genre tropes and sometimes cheesiness coming into play. That being said, the dialogue is often witty and the action sequences are spectacular.

One of the highlights of Big Game is the relationship between the President and Oskari. They are both thrown together but become friends and save each other along the way. They have great chemistry and a scene in which the President tells a disheartened Oskari how proud he is of him is quite touching. Oskari’s journey from a boy trying to prove himself to his father and the people of his village to being the one person who is trying to help the President is great and Tommila is a very talented young actor. Playing against his now typical badass-self, Jackson’s President is often defenceless without Oskari and can’t stand up to the bad guys in a fight.

The bad guys are quite typical of the genre and are often easy to spot but there’s also surprises and so many of the cast look as if they’re having such a good time it’s hard to dislike the film just for that.

Big Game is 90 minutes of fun and there’s a lot packed into it but it never feels slow or bloated. Big Game is the best of the fun action films from the 80’s and 90’s. It may have some text-book type characters but it’s also got great action sequences and fun dialogue. 4/5.