Monday, 7 May 2012

The Thing with Man on a Ledge is there is more tension found in Salmon Fishing in The Yemen.

Directed by Lasse Hallström (Dear John and The Cider House Rules), Salmon Fishing in the Yemen stars Ewan McGregor as a fishing expert who is blackmailed by his boss into joining a project that he believes to be fundamentally unfeasible. This plan, conducted by Sheikh Muhammad (Amr Waked) and supported by consultant Harriet Chetwode-Talbot (Emily Blunt), involves bringing the sport of Salmon fishing to Yemen (south of Saudi Arabia, in the Middle East, if your geography is not up to scratch).

Naturally with a film like Salmon Fishing in the Yemen it goes exactly where you expect it to, taking next to no surprising turns, but the film is so sweet and good natured that it hardly matters as you are taken along by the leisurely pace, charming performances from McGregor and Blunt and some superb shots of the Yemenese landscape.  Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is helped considerably by two delightful performances from the two leads who share a remarkable chemistry as McGregor and Blunt’s delightful chemistry is the major reason why the film’s 107 minutes breezes by, the pair essentially are the beating heart of the film as the film relies on good performances from its two stars. Both Blunt and McGregor are supported admirably by Kristen Scott Thomas, who looks like she has just walked off the set of The Thick of It. The film is occasionally let down by a bit of dull melodrama and the main theme of faith is pushed aside for the romance, but overall it’s an entertaining film that even has hints of political satire.  Salmon Fishing in The Yemen is entertaining, amusing and works like a charm, it doesn’t look to go further than it does, but the film remains likeable and engaging.  I mean for what it is it's perfectly fine.


Sam Worthington stars as escaped convict Nick Cassidy who seemingly looks set to throw himself off The Roosevelt Hotel, but he has no intention to kill himself as his supposed suicide attempt is a diversion from the real threat of a heist that intends steal businessman David Englander’s (Ed Harris) multimillion dollar diamond. This diamond will not be used for financial gain but to prove he is innocent as Englander used the same diamond to frame Cassidy years before.

Man of the Ledge is one of those films that is rather entertaining but you have no idea why because Man on a Ledge has very little going for it. The film has numerous flaws, firstly many of the performances are rather unremarkable, namely Sam Worthington who is charisma free here, but Elizabeth Banks, Anthony Mackie and Ed Harris also deliver uninspiring turns. This is partly because the characters that they portray are a poorly written bunch, but it doesn’t help that all the performers were unconvincing in their roles. Another quite major issue is the fact that there is very little tension despite the sight of Nick Cassidy standing right on the edge of a very big drop, sadly Worthington doesn’t really have the caliber to pull off a quite difficult role that, if done correctly, could have staggering vertigo inducing effects.  The central plot itself is full of holes, with plenty of unanswered questions and the banter shared between Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) and Joey Cassidy (Jamie Bell) just doesn’t work as the two share little onscreen chemistry. It’s oddly entertaining despite the fact it’s not very good as it is an empty thriller lacking in conviction and tension.


Remember in the 1982 John Carpenter film The Thing there was a Norwegian guy chasing and shooting a dog? Well this is their story. The 2011 film, also called The Thing, serves as a prequel to the John Carpenter classic telling the story of the expedition team who discovered the shapeshifting beast and, essentially, released it into the world. The Thing manages to raise a decent level of tension, paranoia and a feeling of isolation, however the thing with 2011 version The Thing is that the 1982 version of The Thing has already done exactly this but far more effectively, thus the film brings nothing new to the table and instead becomes nothing more than a retread of material already explored in the Carpenter classic. The film lacks imagination following a generic storyline that contains a bunch of characters who are barely recognizable as characters, in fact the film would serve better as an advertisement for a beard convention rather than run through a projector as a horror film. While there is a sense of paranoia and tension in the first two acts the third act is tediously dull as the CGI beast never quite convinces and scare after scare is thrown ineffectively in. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is fine in the central role, but she has very little to work with as, like the 2011 remake of Straw Dogs, the prequel to The Thing seems like a product of lazy, uninspired thinking.


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