Friday, 18 November 2016

2016 Triple Bill

The four horseman are kidnapped by a tech genius (Daniel Radcliffe) who asks them to steal a microchip in one of their more daring heists.

Now You See Me fell off the rails when the film’s final twist was revealed. Assuming you’ve seen the first film, the twist was that Mark Ruffalo's FBI Agent Dylan Rhoades was the fifth horseman. All that chasing around after the Four Horseman was just a distraction, a common magic technique. Essentially the movie pulled the rug out from underneath saying “ah but….this is what really happened and this person isn’t who you think he/she is”. This sums up the sequel, it’s a series of scenes that are all distractions from what actually happened. You can’t watch a scene without thinking that a later scene will go “ah but…this is what really happened”. The whole film feels like a con because of this and it’s not as clever as the filmmakers perceive it to be.

The effectiveness of the chemistry between the Four Horseman depends upon whether you accept and engage with the Horseman’s arrogant showmanship, personally I didn’t really warm to them in the previous film and still haven’t warmed to them. Despite this, however, it is evident that the cast do share an impressive chemistry and the performances by the cast are pretty decent. Woody Harrelson is perhaps the best player in a double role as he plays both Merritt McKinney and his twin brother, Chase. Lizzy Caplan makes for a fine replacement to Henley Reeves following Isla Fisher’s departure from the project.

Jon M.Chu has shown to be capable director, proficient at delivering well-choreographed and kinetic sequences where the action takes place in multiple places at once in a way that’s quite exciting to watch (such as the final act in London). However, at 130 minutes the film is too long and it struggles to justify the length with all the “a-ha! Gotcha!” moments becoming tiring.

In a week where an unpopular president was elected into office (but not unpopular enough to actually be voted in) I watched a film about the only president to ever resign from his role in disgrace meeting the biggest popular culture icon of the twentieth century. Elvis & Nixon is about the peculiar meeting between Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey) and Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) in December 1970 where Elvis, disturbed by the current plight of the country, offers his services to country as an FBI Agent-at-large.

Elvis & Nixon is a success because of the inspired casting of Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon, Shannon, in particular is a strange casting but the casting of Shannon turns out to be an inspired one as Shannon gives a raw and emotional performance as the king of rock and roll. Spacey, capturing Nixon’s gruff speaking voice and the cartoonish view of the president, is also terrific and his contrasting performance to Shannon’s underplayed Presley works wonders for the film.

Liza Johnson’s film, working from a bright and breezy script from Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal, and Cary Elwes, is quirky comedy full of a number of fine moments, for example the scene when Elvis meets a group of Elvis impersonators who assumed he was also an impersonator is very fuuny. The whole meeting itself is surreal and amusing, and the fact that the most recognisable man in the world wants to go undercover and infiltrate a drug ring is just bizarre, which fits in well with the strangeness of the meeting itself.


Like his mate Adam Sandler, Kevin James has ventured into making films directly for Netflix. Now that’s not necessarily an insult but so far this year Netflix’s film output hasn’t been great with The Do-over and Foreign Correspondents being rather unmemorable. Memoirs of International Assassin isn’t exactly going buck that change but at least it doesn’t plummet to the depths of Adam Sander’s The Do-over.

The basics of the plot is Kevin James plays Sam Larson, an author, who gets mistaken for an international assassin following the publishing of his fictional book which drew many parallels between the infamous assassin known as The Ghost. Sam is kidnapped by the Venezuelan rebels (led by Andy Garcia’s El Toro) fighting against the current regime and he is forced to assassinate the president of Venezuela.

Many action-comedies struggle to maintain a perfect balance by keeping the laughs consistent and the action interesting. In the case of Memoirs of International Assassin it fails to do both with any effectiveness as the film struggles to raise more than a small snicker and the story, though not exactly without merit, is mostly unengaging and messy. 



  1. I liked Elvis & Nixon too. This International Assassin movie I legit thought was a meme. I didn't realize it was an actual film. lol

  2. I enjoyed Now You See Me 2, but it's definitely not as good as the first. Haven't seen the other two. I will check out Elvis & Nixon, but I'll likely stay far far away from the Kevin James flick.