Oscar season has begun and it sees a flurry of incredibly exciting releases to come in the next few weeks. The first of which is David O. Russell’s American Hustle. Boasting one of the most impressive casts possible, (Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner) American Hustle tells the story of a pair of successful con artists who are forced by the FBI to take part in a con on the right side of the law. With Russell finding the form of his life recently, his last two films The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook have both picked up Oscars and wide critical acclaim American Hustle was set to continue the trend having already been nominated in a number of BAFTA categories.
American Hustle is quite a different entity from Russell’s last two pictures but also bares a number of similarities, at it’s centre lies an odd and troublesome romance between Bale’s Irving Rosenfeld and Adams’ Sydney Prosser, a central theme which is a large part of The Fighter and the main plot of Silver Linings, here the love is performed to perfection yet again and more intrigue is thrown in with the Irving’s dejected and more than a little insane wife, Jennifer Lawrence’s Rosalyn. As with his two previous films, as well, aside from the central relationship there is an ensemble cast who all pull in show-stopping performance and really compliment Russell’s vision. Here he cements his name as a director who can get the absolute best from his actors. The script here is also strong, while perhaps not holding get the same emotional power as some of his other work, American Hustle takes a slightly different tack and what it lacks in emotion it makes up for in a wholly satisfying heist conclusion. One of the films strongest aspects is the way in which every character is only looking out for themselves and at many points of the film every character is conning every character, there a few allegiances and no one can be trusted. Russell carefully places scenes of long hair dressing as he points at the way the characters all hide behind their wigs, leaving you wondering if you ever see the real person behind their impressive facades.
Overall American Hustle may not be quite as strong as The Fighter, but it certainly continues Russell’s run of incredible form. Bale’s performance is the standout for me but every actor pulls something spectacular out of the bag and this movie is a great start to what promises to be an incredibly enjoyable month or two at the cinema.
There are very few franchises that have managed to get anywhere near six movies. Somehow The Fast and The Furious just manages to keep on going and with a decent a fourth instalment and an even better fifth it’s actually managed to keep me interested as well. This time round we have all the big names from Fast Five returning with the reinstating of Michelle Rodriguez as Letty on top making the cast one of the biggest ensembles ever. This time round Dom (Vin Diesel) and his crew of criminal drivers with powers equal to that of Superman end up working alongside Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s cop, Hobbs, in order to get Letty back from an evil gang who have taken advantage of her. The story really is not important as I’m sure you could guess.
Fast Five was by far the best in the series so far with a ridiculous, but fun story that’s pace was enough to make you forget how completely stupid it was. The action was on a bigger scale than any of the movies before it and the relationship shared between Diesel and Johnson was played just at the right level to be 100% comedic. This gave number six every possibility of being even better. Unfortunately it’s not quite there. The action is easily the best the series has had so far and the last twenty minutes to half an hour of the movie are truly fantastic with tanks, planes and Vin Diesel emerging from deadly explosions unscathed. Despite the excellent final act the middle section of the movie is so bad it’s a real chore to get through, clunky dialogue, unfunny jokes and poor acting has always been a trait of the franchise but Fast and Furious 6 is one of the worst and there is little to no relief from this relentless shit for the majority of the film. What five did well was splitting up the boring bits with exciting ones but six fails in doing so. A further annoying point is that all the best bits of the movie are in the trailer bar one or two, meaning you spend the whole film waiting to see something you already have seen hundred times in the countless tv spots and cinema promos.
It’s still a decent amount of fun but at a much lower success rate by it’s far superior predecessor. An excellent third act and teasing post-credits set up for number seven, though, stop Fast and Furious 6 from falling completely flat on it’s face.
My first cinema trip as part of CAGE RAGE came this week with the release of Stolen, if you not sure what the plot is watch Taken replace Neeson with Cage and make him a thief rather than a bodyguard and you’ll be on the right track. In fact just do that and then you won’t need to see the film what you imagine it to be is a tonne better than what it is.
Directed by Simon West who previously worked with Cage on Con Air, Stolen is a whole different kettle of fish. The film opens with Cage and co. robbing a bank and getting caught after being sent to jail for eight years he tries to pick things up with his estranged daughter as they were left off she’s having none of it but soon after their initial meeting she gets kidnapped by Cage’s old partner who he had shot in the foot. What ensues is a mish-mash of poorly strung together action sequences, horrendous acting and gaping plot holes. It’s incredibly hard to find any kind of redeeming feature, other than of course the fact that Cage is in it. The whole film is dumbed down for a 12A audience and it seems as everything has to be explained for viewers under the age of three to get a good idea of what’s going on, it seems the main rule of screenwriting and film-making as a whole, show-don’t-tell, is completely forgotten.
As for Cage he is on auto-pilot here, showing slightly more emotion than in Ghost Rider but not a significant amount. There are one or two moments where he loses his cool but nothing to write home about overall making this a completely wasted cinema trip, still hopefully with his next release things will get better.