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Sarkhat Namla: Definitely Not the Official Film of the Revolution
Sarkhat Namla revolves around the economic differences in Egypt seen through the eyes of Gouda (Abdel Gelil), an Egyptian contractor who was wrongly imprisoned in Iraq. The film tries to address the issues that Egyptians have been faced with in increasing economic difficulties such as the increase in food commodity prices, the rate of corruption and their effects on the Egyptian people.
Upon returning from Iraq, Gouda is disillusioned at the depressing state of the country. With very little to his name, Gouda finds himself in conflict; his sense of patriotism compels him to get involved in the revolution, but at the same time, his efforts to live a comfortable life lead him to become involved in the same type of underhandedness that the revolution is rising up against. Naturally, this inner struggle drives Gouda to extreme measures and consequences.
Originally meant to be a comedy, the story suffers from many elements that simply felt forced. Since it's mainly seen through the eyes of Gouda, you'll get the feeling that his jokes are misplaced. Egyptian films in the last twenty years or so have invariably pulled off adding humour to real-life situations but sadly, it doesn’t work here. It wasn't only the script that was the downfall of the film; but the setting as well.
Sarkhat Namla’s advertising campaign positioned it as the official film of the revolution. This is inaccurate, as it tries to focus on the events that helped in inspiring the revolution. In fact, the shooting was almost completed before January 25th, and when the revolution kicked off, additional scenes were filmed to make it more relevant. This further adds to the mess of the script, as the story seems disjointed. Another contributing factor is surely the fact that it had to be quickly edited after being picked to screen at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Abel Gelil turns in an adequate performance that doesn’t stray too far from his usual style. On the other hand, Youssef fails to shine and isn’t adequately used, appearing intermittently as Gouda's belly-dancer wife. The rest of the cast are distinctly average; nothing more, nothing less.
It’s actually astounding how the film fails to deliver on any of its promises. It’s neither really about the revolution, nor is it funny; the jokes and scenarios are worn out, the parts that specifically talk about the revolution only do so in a very shallow way, and images and footage of the protests are used awkwardly. Ultimately, Sarkhat Namla is a poorly executed film that fails to portray an important and topical subject adequately.
Sinking further and deeper into its very own rabbit-hole of absurdity, Taken 3 – the third and hopefully last chapter in Luc Besson’s generally well-liked but unmistakably flawed Taken trilogy – has finally outstayed its welcome. Abandoning logic and pretty much everything that connects its concluding statement to any of its predecessors, Taken 3 disappoints and not even Bryan Mills – and his special set of skills – can save it from its demise.
Directed by Olivier Megaton, Taken 3 takes us to the sunny streets of Los Angeles where ex-government operative, Bryan Mills (Neeson), is adapting to his relatively quiet and uneventful single life. Realising that his daughter Kim (Grace) is no longer the little girl he wants her to be, Bryan continues to look for ways to become a part of her life, while his ex-wife, Lenore (Janssen) – who is experiencing marital problems with her husband, Stuart (Scott) – is trying to become a part of his once more.
It doesn’t take long before Bryan is swung into action when Lenore is found murdered in his very own apartment and, just like Harrison Ford in the Fugitive, Bryan is the suspect. Escaping from the hands of the law, our hero – with the help of some old friends – sets off to carry out his own investigation, in the hopes of finding the person responsible before he’s caught by Agent Dotzler (Whittaker).
Apart from the title and the central characters, Taken 3 shares very little common thread or connective tissue with any of its previous instalments. The Euro-action grit introduced in the first movie is long gone and tension has been reduced to a simmer; a handful of dubious Eastern European, unforgiving plot holes and the over-zealous editing leave the film hollow of what made the previous films stand above the usual action spiel.
Neeson, who allegedly did all his own fight sequences, is still his capable and charming self, however, the improbability of the situations he finds himself in – not to mention the laws of gravity he dares test – fall into typical Hollywood ridiculousness. The ever dependable Whittaker serves to be a wonderful addition to the film, though his talents, along with the story’s initial potential and appeal, are shamelessly underused.
Based on young-adult novel, The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch, Sergey Bodrov’s Seventh Son is built on the old folklore tale of ‘the seventh son of a seventh son’ holding some kind of mystical powers – in this case, the hero of the piece, Tom Ward (Barnes), is able to have prophetic visions of impending doom.
The film develops into a classic master-and-apprentice set-up when the world-weary Master Gregory (Bridges) – grieving the loss of protégé, Billy (Harrington) – find his replacement in Tom. Our young and naive hero-in-the-making is a quality lump of clay waiting to be moulded and shaped to reach is true potential. It’s a tried-and-tested filmic and literary formula; the rest of the story writes itself as the two go on to battle the evil Mother Malkin (Moore) and her armies of shape-shifting witches for reasons that are largely incomprehensible, but acceptable nonetheless.
While it may not quite be in the league of other bigger and better fantasy productions, there’s still plenty of action and imaginative elements to appreciate in Seventh Son. Even just Watching Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore – who haven’t appeared on screen together since their work in The Big Lebowski in 1998 – battling it out against the backdrop of dragons, wizards and larger-than-life supernatural creatures isn’t the worst thing to snuggle up to a some popcorn in front of. However, even though Bridges seems fitting for the tired and worn-out warrior, his ambiguous, slurry accent is hard to digest and Moore – decked out in full black witch attire – wades into cartoonish territory a little too often.
The visuals, which come courtesy of cinematographer and special effects veteran, John Dykstra, are (disappointingly) nothing more than average and contribute a bare minimum to the overall aesthetic of the Medievel backdrop. Nothing bursts off the screen and there’s a distinct lack of wow-factor that is largely dictated by the fact that the script in itself lacks a distinguishable flair.
Although the story’s fun but forgettable hundred-minute running time feels undemanding, there isn’t enough magic in the Seventh Son to get one excited about the sequel that is almost certain to follow. And it will come.