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Wrath of the Titans: Bland Action Sequel
Hades (Fiennes) and Ares (Ramirez) have conspired to kidnap Zeus (Neeson) and use his power to break Kronos, king of the titans and father of Hades, Zeus and Poseidon (Huston), out of Tartarus, where his three sons had imprisoned him after they overthrew him. Only Perseus (Worthington), Zeus’ demigod son, can avert this calamity and save the world. Accompanied by Queen Andromeda (Pike) and Poseidon’s demigod son Agenor (Kebbell), the trio try to find a way to free Zeus from the underworld so he can help them in the fight against Kronos.
The film’s plot fulfils only one purpose: to connect the various fights and battle scenes together. Seriously, don’t question anything or you’ll uncover a ton of gaping plot holes. And while these fights are initially pretty cool, after Perseus has fought a chimera, Cyclops and a Minotaur, you start to get kind of bored and then there are still battles with Hades and Ares and Kronos to sit through. And while the fights /mythical creatures look good, there’s nothing particularly exceptional about them that’ll hold your attention for the entire film.
The film looks blandly pretty in a sand-strewn kind of way. Everything looks good but nothing stands out or grabs your attention. These swords and sandals flicks are a dime a dozen and after last year’s Immortals, the bar has been raised tremendously on eye popping visuals. Unoriginality seems to be a common thread here because the 3D is absolutely wasted. It’s mainly used only to chuck a bunch of rocks at the audience. There are some scenes that are pretty eye popping though. Perseus, Andromeda and Agenor trying to navigate their way through a labyrinth to get to Kronos comes to mind. The labyrinth’s walls shift, tilt and rearrange themselves while the trio try to get through it before they’re squeezed to a bloody pulp or tossed off the edge.
The most surprising thing about the film is how it’s filled with heavyweight actors who are barely recognisable. Both Fiennes and Nighy were unrecognisable under their costumes and wigs. But the problem wasn’t just in their appearance. These two actors who are usually pretty electric just weren’t even trying. And it wasn’t just them either. Worthington continues his quest to blend into the background of every film he’s in and Neeson sleepwalks through his dignified, wise man shtick.
Wrath of the Titans can be summed up in three words: beige, bland, and forgettable.
Embodying pretty much everything a bona fide espionage thriller should, Our Kind of Traitor - adapted from John Le Carre’s novel of the same name - is a solid entry into the author’s long-list of book-to-screen adaptations which include hits such as, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Constant Gardener and A Most Wanted Man. However, while it rides on an interesting premise of money, corruption and lies, there is a sense of implausibility that detracts from an otherwise thought-provoking and visually enticing basis.
The story opens in Marrakesh, Morocco where poetry professor, Perry Makepeace (McGregor,) and his semi-estranged lawyer wife, Gail (Harris), have travelled to in an attempt to rekindle their relationship after Perry’s recent indiscretion with one of his students. One evening at a bar, Perry meets an over-the-top Russian businessman named Dima (Skarsgard) who, after inviting the couple to lavish party, openly admits to having laundered money for the Russian mob.
He asks Perry for help in delivering an USB stick containing all of the vital information that the British intelligence will need to capture his boss who goes by the name of Prince (Dobrygin) in exchange for a safe passage into asylum for him and his family. Reaching out to an MI6 agent, Hector (Lewis), Perry delivers on his promise, only to find himself and Gail dragged into a dangerous game of cat and mouse which soon sends the naïve couple on an espionage escapade around the world.
Adapted to the screen by Iranian writer Hossein Amini - see Drive, 47 Ronin - Our Kind of Traitor is told entirely through the eyes of someone who is not a skilled professional but an everyday man who knows very little about the dangerous world he finds himself in, ultimately, making it easier for the viewers to identify with the leads. Filling the story with a great deal of suspense, tension and overall atmosphere, director Susanna White shows a level of confidence behind the lens, packing the screen with an unusual touch of class - very little espionage movie clichés make their way into the story - whilst the action sequences are pleasantly engaging.
The movie’s slight drawback, however, comes in the form of a series of far-fetched situations that the characters find themselves facing and a lack of chemistry between McGregor and Harris, offering very little conviction in their personal connection and overall predicament. The committed performance from Skarsgard - as the tattooed Russian mobster who will do anything to keep his family from harm - however, is what manages to save the film from completely failing, with the talented actor exuding a boisterous presence and charisma that is hard to deny.
As far as B-movies go, there’s the good kind of bad, there’s actual bad and then there is just downright awful. Chuck Russell’s latest dip into the B-grade action pool, the exceptionally dreadful and contrived I Am Wraith, has unfortunately fallen somewhere right in the middle proving once again that John Travolta’s faltering career is still very much on the decline.
Written by Paul Solan, the story is set in Columbus, Ohio and it is centred on Stanley Hill (Travolta); a former special ops agent who has decided to leave the dangers of his job behind and now works in the car industry. His wife, Vivian (De Mornay), is an EPA analyst and, as the movie opens, we watch her excitedly welcoming her husband home from a long trip away. However, their reunion is short lived when, seemingly out of nowhere, a group of thugs kill Vivian and wound Stanley before he escapes.
Devestated by the loss of his wife, Stanley is left with no choice but to return to his old line of work as a trained CIA assassin, quickly reuniting with old partner Dennis (Law & Order’s very own Meloni) who is excited to help his buddy chase down the killers. With his daughter Abbie (Schull) very much in the dark about her father’s intentions, Stanley’s plan of revenge soon gets complicated when he realises that there are people up at the top – including Governor Meserve (Esprit) and local kingpin, Lemi K (Sloan) – connected to the murder.
Juggling one too many ideas at once, director Chuck Russell doesn’t seem to have a clear idea about what he wants his movie to be; is it a bloody revenge thriller? Is it an actioner with a political conspiracy undertone? Or is it a buddy-cop movie? It’s very unclear and the story serves up a stream of tough-guy-fighting-bad-guys clichés. Switching the focus and overall tone numerous times during the course of the movie, the action sequences are decent, though the overuse of slow-mo shots proves a little tiresome at times, while the plot’s pacing and emotional is all over the place.
Sporting a ridiculous wig, Travolta switches on his macho mode and, for the most part, we believe him. However, the novelty of watching the sixty-plus year old actor fighting his way through the bad guys – all the while indulging in atrocious dialogue with the slightly more affective Meloni – wears out pretty darn soon. Generic, clichéd and exceptionally tiring, I Am Wrath fits in well within the ‘geriaction’ genre of movies that Taken kicked off, but without any of the conviction of the Liam Neeson-starring adventure.