Those Who Wish Me Dead: Film Review

Those Who Wish Me Dead

I haven’t seen Angelina Jolie doing some acting for ages so I was thrilled to see her back on my screen in Those Who Wish Me Dead and thankfully, the film itself is pretty great too.

Jolie stars as Hannah Faber, a troubled smokejumper who recently failed a psych evaluation and has been taken out of action and sent to a fire lookout tower in the remote forest in Montana. One day she comes across a young boy named Connor (Finn Little), who hid behind a tree and witnessed his accountant father get murdered by two assassins, Jack (Aidan Gillen) and Patrick (Nicholas Hoult), before escaping into the forest. The assassins soon realise Connor is still alive and is potentially privy to the information his father was killed for so they set off in hot pursuit. Hannah helps protect the boy from the assassins and the massive wildfire they deliberately start.

Those Who Wish Me Dead is a straightforward and traditional thriller that feels plucked straight out of the ’90s. This type of mid-budget thriller hardly ever gets made anymore or ends up on a streaming service rather than in the cinema, which seems to have become all about blockbusters or indies, nothing in-between. But this old-fashioned film serves as a reminder that these movies are good, there is still interest in them, and more should be made. Let’s bring them back!

Taylor Sheridan, who co-wrote the script with Michael Koryta and Charles Leavitt, has set the bar high with his previous writing credits on Hell or High Water and Sicario and this doesn’t quite match the standard of those but his direction is solid, the pacing is spot-on, and I enjoyed how the thriller played out, although I would’ve liked more details about the damaging information the accountant was killed for knowing.

I was a big fan of Jolie’s work back in her prolific acting days and she shines up on the screen as Hannah, who is one of the boys and uses jokes and banter to cover up her troubles. The role is both emotionally and physically demanding – Hannah needs to be in incredible shape for her job – and Jolie aced the character on both fronts. I don’t have any issues with her acting but she’s too gorgeous to be convincing as this rough and ready person and has too much make-up on in the later scenes when she’s covered in blood, mud and bruises.

Jon Bernthal was a strong addition as the area’s sheriff Ethan, Gillan always makes for a menacing antagonist and that’s no different here, while Hoult doesn’t bring much of that to the table. I didn’t find him at all threatening and knew that Hannah could easily sort him out. But they are all outshone by relative newcomers Little and Medina Senghore (as Ethan’s pregnant wife Allison) – Little does brilliant emotional work for such a young actor and Senghore has the most unexpectedly kickass role in the movie. A very pleasant surprise!

Those Who Wish Me Dead is thrilling, gripping, and tells a compelling story with an intriguing set of characters. I highly recommend it.

Side note: If you’re interested in seeing more about smokejumpers then you should watch Only the Brave (bring tissues!)

In cinemas now

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The cinemas are back! Here’s what you can watch

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Cinemas in England have been closed since December and I am SO excited for them to reopen tomorrow! I have missed them so much! To make up for lost time, I have got two films booked in on Monday and three overall this week.

Films don’t generally get released on Mondays, but to celebrate the return of cinemas, the following four movies were given the release date of Monday 17th May. Here’s all the info:

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Get ready for more elaborately gruesome, wince-inducing traps – the Saw franchise is back! This ninth instalment stars Chris Rock and Max Minghella as two cops who investigate grisly murders which bear an uncanny resemblance to the work of the Jigsaw killer. This instalment is said to have more comedy moments and a social justice angle, in addition to the gore.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Taylor Sheridan‘s new thriller has an amazing cast which includes Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Jon Bernthal and Aidan Gillen. Jolie plays a smokejumper who goes on the run with a teenager murder witness in the Montana wilderness to escape a pair of assassins hired to silence him. This is my first screening tomorrow and I’m excited for it.

Peter Rabbit 2

More animated hijinks in this sequel to the 2018 family adventure. Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne return as the live-action leads, who are now married and living happily with the animated Peter (voiced by James Corden) and his family. But Peter gets restless and bored with blissful garden life and causes chaos (as always) by going to the big city.

The Unholy

And for people who like their horrors more supernatural than gory, there’s The Unholy, starring The Walking Dead’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It follows a hearing-impaired girl who is visited by the Virgin Mary and can suddenly hear, speak and heal the sick. People flock to witness her miracles but terrifying events unfold. Sounds spooky!

Those are all the new releases but plenty of cinemas are showing some awards season films – the most popular listings are for Nomadland, Sound of Metal and Judas and the Black Messiah – new blockbusters like Mortal Kombat and Godzilla vs. Kong as well as old classics.

If you feel comfortable to do so, please go and support your local cinema when you can! I personally cannot wait to switch off my phone and devote my entire attention to a movie surrounded my like-minded film fans.

Without Remorse: Film Review

Without Remorse

A movie adaptation of Tom Clancy’s novel Without Remorse has been in development since the ’90s, and finally, after many changes to the director, writer, and cast, the movie has been made once and for all.

Michael B. Jordan stars as John Kelly, a US Navy SEAL who leads an operation to rescue a CIA operative taken hostage by ex-Russian military forces in Aleppo, Syria. Three months later, after he’s retired from the military ahead of his wife Pam (Lauren London) giving birth to their first child, Russian assassins retaliate by killing two SEALs from the Aleppo rescue and Pam and shooting John twice. Once he’s recovered, John embarks on a mission to avenge his wife’s murder and get to the bottom of the conspiracy.

Without Remorse is very much a conventional action thriller which doesn’t show us anything we haven’t seen before, with the exception of the performances (which I’ll get to soon). It is perfectly watchable and held my attention for the most part, but Jordan and his cast members deserved a movie that’s a cut above your average and mixes things up whereas this follows a familiar, well-trodden path.

I expected more from the screenplay given that it’s written by Taylor Sheridan – of Hell or High Water, Sicario and Wind River fame – but it’s just serviceable. It does the job, nothing more, nothing less. I didn’t really care about getting to the bottom of the conspiracy, possibly because the ultimate bad guy was so obvious that the reveal lacked a thrill.

I also would have liked Stefano Sollima to have given us more interesting and gripping action sequences. There was a fight in prison that showed promise (on a shallow front, Jordan being topless probably helped) but that was too short-lived, while on the flipside, the Russia sequence felt too long and drawn out and my concentration started to drop. The airplane sequence looked cool though.

Thankfully, Jordan makes the film better than it rightfully should be. He has proven that he’s physically capable with fight and stunt choreography in Black Panther and the Creed films, and Without Remorse properly cements his status as an action star. Kelly is a dangerous man with nothing left to live for and he definitely isn’t mentally sound enough to take on a mission and Jordan nailed his slightly unhinged persona.

Jodie Turner-Smith is awesome as Lt. Commander Karen Greer, a decorated Navy SEAL, and her character is something of a trailblazer considering there are still no female Navy SEALs in real-life. She is Kelly’s closest ally and the most grounded and level-headed member of the team. Hats off to Turner-Smith for shooting this physically intensive role while pregnant too!

Elsewhere, Jamie Bell and Guy Pearce play CIA agents who are under suspicion of being corrupt and are convincingly shifty, while there isn’t enough Colman Domingo, who makes a small appearance as a pastor.

It is already well known that Jordan has signed on to play the character in Rainbow Six next and while this isn’t the strongest launch, the premise sounds very different to this origins story and the teaser left me intrigued.

On Amazon Prime Video from Friday 30th April

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Cannes 2017: Films to get excited about

The 2017 Cannes Film Festival kicked off yesterday, and as always I’m filled with envy that I’m not there, watching the stars hit the red carpet and seeing the premiere of all these potentially amazing films. For the next ten days, there will be plenty of screenings but there are just a handful that I’m really excited about. Here they are:

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