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The Cold Light of Day: Bland, Confusing Thriller
For anybody planning to watch this for Bruce Willis, be warned- he’s barely in it. We instead spend the whole film following Cavill who plays his son Will who is the only member of the family left free to roam the streets of Madrid. Will’s family has been kidnapped due to Martin’s (Willis) work with the CIA. He’d taken a briefcase from the kidnappers and Will now has to find the bag, which he suspects is with his father’s double crossing partner Jean (Weaver), and get it back to them before they murder every last member of his family.
The film is, as a whole, painfully average but there’s one part in particular that’ll have you screaming in frustration; we never find out what’s in the freaking briefcase! People are getting killed left, right and centre over a plain, black bag. And no, this trick doesn’t give the bag some kind of epically dangerous aura; it’s just infuriating. But lack of clarity is a theme with this film. The fight scenes and car chases are murder to get through. In the former, you can barely see who’s hitting who because the shaky camera work and fast cuts, while the lighting in the latter makes it really difficult to tell the cars apart. Everything’s just so dark. The car chase, despite having some pretty cool scenes of cars rolling down stairs, is robbed of its tension because it’s so confusing.
Cavill joins the generation of actors who are beautiful to look at but incredibly bland. He just goes through the motions here as a man who discovers his inner badass when his family is threatened yet never really embraces those powers. Echegui plays Lucia, his shrieking female sidekick who, despite this unfortunate character flaw, is the most likeable person in the film. Rounding of the cast is Weaver’s Jean. She skirts the line between angry, irritated and insane yet never quite manages to form a compelling villain mainly because we don’t know anything about her or why getting her hands on the briefcase was worth selling out her partner. At the very least though, she’s a badass with a gun.
What the ads fail to show is that this ‘film’ is actually a feature length commercial for Audi to the point that in addition to the cars scattered around everywhere, there’s actually a huge billboard advertising the brand in the film. It’s astonishingly unsubtle but again, when a film is this dull and confusing, product placement becomes highly fascinating.
The Step Up franchise is known for one thing and one thing only; the choreography. Forget the formulaic plot lines, stiff acting and the predictably cheesy romantic set-ups; it’s the moves and the spectacular dance routines that keep the fans coming back for more.
Written by John Swetnam and Duane Adler, Step Up All In takes us back to the streets of L.A, where Sean Asa (Guzman) and his dance crew, the Mob, have been struggling to make it big in the City of Angels. After failing to pass the auditions and receiving one too many rejections, the crew decide that it’s time to pack up their bags and head back to Miami, leaving a still determined Sean behind.
Luckily, he soon comes across his old-buddy Moose (Sevani) who - just like his pal - hasn’t been able to earn a living from dancing and, as a result, has decided to take on a steady and a relatively boring job as an engineer. After running into Jasper (Jones) and his obnoxious crew of dancers, the Grim Knights, Sean stumbles on a Las Vegas dance competition online – hosted by the unnecessarily eccentric Alex (Miko) - called the Vortex, where the winning dance crew earns a three-year dance contract at Ceasers Palace.
With no crew by his side, Sean turns to Moose for help who decides to call on his old-buddies for help, including the hot-headed and talented Andie (Evigan). Can Sean pull it together for the final dance-off and win the opportunity of a lifetime?
Detested by critics, but seemingly loved by fans, it’s very hard to ignore the amount of absurdity that surrounds Step Up’s super-cheesy and predictable premise. On the other hand, it’s equally hard not to be at least a little impressed with the elaborate choreography. Directed by Trish Sie – a well known music-video choreographer – Step Up All In goes all out to impress and it manages to dazzle its way through all the way until the big finale.
On the downside, the 3D is once again pretty futile and the acting, is still pretty abysmal; it’s lucky that Sevani, as the goofy and always-game Moose, is there to pick up the pieces.
For what it’s worth, Step Up All In will be welcomed by fans an impressive addition to the series. Who cares if they can’t act; at least they can dance.
Unable to take the plunge and fully immerse itself into its own pool of ideas, Daniel Schechter’s Life of Crime – drawn from the pages of Elmore Leonard’s 1978’s novel, The Switch – is, sadly, neither here nor there.
Set in Detroit, Michigan circa 1978, Life of Crime is centred on inept and useless low-level criminals, Louis (Hawkes) and Ordell (Def), who hope to extract one million dollars from drunken real-estate developer, Frank Dawson (Robbins), for the kidnapping of his seemingly lonely socialite wife, Mickey (Aniston).
The plan seems pretty straightforward at first, but little did they know that Frank – who’s busy canoodling with his young mistress, Melanie (Fisher) at their vacation home in Florida – has already filed for divorce and is now more than happy to use this opportunity to sidestep the obligatory alimony payments.
Now that Frank has called their bluff, things get a little complicated for the hopeless thugs who have clearly not done their research and even more so when Mickey – who is being held hostage at a home of a Nazi-loving fanatic, Richard (Boone Jr.) – comes to realise that her matrimonial bliss has now truly come to end. The deepening relationship between Louis and Mickey only adds fire to the fuel, causing a riff between the two partners, who seem to be running out of both ideas and time.
While the film still manages to serve its purpose and deliver the goods – through a mix of black comedy and slow-burning tension –Schechter, who also wrote the adaptation, plays it too safe; an approach that doesn’t really allow for Elmore Leonard’s distinctive storytelling style to shine through. Life of Crime is not the first Elmore Leonard adaptation – see Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and Sonnefeld’s Get Shorty. Unlike those to adaptations, this lacks an edge, leaving it rather placid.
Aniston shines as the lonely trophy wife whose kidnapping – although distressing – also ends up being a one-way ticket out of her isolated and troublesome marriage. The actress, who is not usually seen in these types of roles, manages to show great versatility and the chemistry shared between her and Hawkes is equally convincing. Robbins is persuasive as the alcoholic, two-timing husband while Fisher was deliciously manipulative as the seductive mistress.
Capturing the 70’s era with plenty of polish and charm, Life of Crime is rather forgettable, despite occasionally popping into action – the source material deserved better.