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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.
Most actors and directors will tell you that tackling a biopic is no easy task. The portrayal of any iconic figure – loved or hated – comes with pitfalls and any filmmaker faces an uphill struggle before the first scene is even filmed.
Such is the case with Diana; a biopic detailing the most tumultuous times of the late Princess Diana that ultimately fails to match the splendour and majesty of one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
Based on Kate Snell’s book, Diana: Her Last Love, the story opens on that ill-fated night in Paris in 1997 with Princess Diana (Watts) walking down a hallway towards a waiting elevator – recorded by the hotel’s CCTV cameras – before heading out and climbing into a waiting car.
The events then rewind back to two years before the tragic death, with Princess Di finding herself drowning in bad publicity, following her separation from Prince Charles. The once media-darling struggles to keep her private life away from the public eye and bloodthirsty paparazzi.
She soon finds comfort in British born- Pakistani heart surgeon, Hasnat Khan (Andrews), whom she meets during a hospital visit. Diana is instantly besotted and she quickly begins pursuing the sweet-talking doctor who is, naturally, flabbergasted by her interest in him.
Their relationship is soon splashed all over the media and the immense pressure of it all becomes a too difficult for Hasnat to handle. Trying to balance his now highly-publicised love affair with one of the most influential women on the planet and the disapproval of his family in Pakistan soon drives Diana away and into the arms of one Dodi Fayed (Cas Anvar) as more drama ensues.
Two-time academy-award nominated actress, Naomi Watts, tries her best to bring authenticity to the monumentally tricky role and, to her credit, succeeds in some parts. That aura of vulnerability, that soft-spoken voice and the all too famous shy gaze beneath those long lashes is captured wonderfully; however, anything else that may have been buried deep beyond the façade is never fully explored.
Meanwhile, Andrews – of Lost fame – looks like he may have bitten more than he can chew; aimless and ineffectual pretty much the whole way through, he manages to overstate his every move and that spark of chemistry – which initially brought these two lovebirds together – is never really felt on screen.
Directed by Oliver Hirchbiegel, this could have been a heart-rending tale of one of the most beloved figures of our time. Instead, it fails to really utilise the endless well of inspiration that is impossible love.
Diana never truly grabs your attention; it’s ultimately uninteresting, unexciting and a little too inclined to the haziness of a soap opera.
With many Americans still picking Thanksgiving turkey out of their teeth and others already embarking on Christmas shopping, Jimmy Hayward’s Thanksgiving-themed, animated comedy, Free Birds, is the first of what will almost certainly be a production line of hastily put-together films capitalising on the festive season.
Meet Reggie (Wilson); a nonconformist turkey who has always been viewed as an outsider for his ‘radical’ thinking. The idea of having himself – and the rest of his fellow-turkeys – fattened up for the upcoming Thanksgiving festivities, is a notion that doesn’t sit too well with Reggie. He continuously tries to warn everyone of their imminent slaughter, but his warnings go unheeded. That is until they realise the stark reality of their situation and throw Reggie under the bus to save their own necks.
However, much to his surprise, Reggie ends up being the White House’s ‘pardoned turkey’ and is soon sent off to Camp David to live the good life; lots of TV and a great deal of junk food.
One night, he’s approached by Jake (Harrelson); a cheeky and rebellious turkey who informs him that there’s a way of travelling back in time to the very first Thanksgiving, where they can take Turkey off the menu for good.
Intrigued and fascinated by the possibility, the duo soon find themselves jumping into the secret government machine, named S.T.E.V.E (voiced by Takei), and travelling back to 1621. They quickly learn, however, that becoming ‘free birds’ is going to take some serious work.
While the idea behind Free Birds might sound solid on paper, the final result is not. Essentially, this is not a film that holds the wide appeal of the likes of Toy Story and Finding Nemo. Kids will love it, though adults will probably find the cutesy humour and inattentive storyline difficult to engage with. Moreover, the endless-parade of product placements and tiresome references to other, unquestionably better, films only serves to undermine it.
The film’s only redeeming feature lies with its two leads. Owen, in his usual carefree and offhand style, injects the character of Reggie with enough likeability, while Harrelson approaches his character with conspicuous willingness and excitement. The rest of the cast is equally deserving of praise, especially Poehler – voicing Reggie’s love interest – who brings zesty and feisty personality to her role.
Despite Free Birds’ good intentions, this underdog story – or in this case an underturkey, if you will – would have been a lot better if it spent a little bit more time in the oven.