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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.
Stepping away from its single-setting format, the unnecessary sequel to 2013’s disappointing but surprisingly profitable home-invasion thriller, The Purge, moves its story out of the house and into the streets where once again James DeMonaco’s intriguing but equally mind-boggling ideas are damaged by clumsy pacing and feeble performances.
The twelve months have passed since the last Annual Purge and the residents of a urban, dystopian LA are once again preparing themselves for the bloody ritual; an annual ceremony where any crime – including murder – is made legal for one night.
The story kicks-off with three story strands which come together early on in the film; married couple, Shane (Gilford) and Liz (Sanchez), are left stranded and vulnerable to attack, when they’re car breaks down under suspicious circumstances. Meanwhile, struggling diner waitress, Eva (Ejogo), and her daughter, Cali (Soul), fight for their lives when they’re wrist nightmares come true and they’re house is broken to. They’re eventually saved when a group of paramilitary personnel intervenes, killing their drunken attacker. However, they drag Eva and Cali out to the street, where they plan to execute them. Luckily for them, Leo (Grillo) – a policeman looking to avenge the death of his son by a drunk driver – saves them. Little does he know, however, that Shane and Liz have taken refuge in his car and, after some heated words, the group end up navigating the Annual Purge together.
Even the most cynical of filmgoers has to admit that, despite how ludicrous and seemingly implausible the idea of The Purge actually is, there’s something genuinely disturbing and deliciously unnerving about it. The idea of a legalised ‘personal cleansing’ ritual – which has supposedly managed to cut crime and poverty by half – definitely sounds like something worth exploring onscreen. However, as it is the case with so many interesting concepts it’s the quality of the execution that counts and, even though the film does manage to build tension and offer some thrilling action set-pieces, the execution is left wanting.
One of the main reasons lies behind the acting, or lack thereof, from a group of actors who look – and sound – like they’ve stepped straight off of a soap-opera set; Ejogo and Soul are utterly unconvincing and Gilford and Sanchez are unnecessarily theatrical, though Grillo keeps things together.
All in all, The Purge: Anarchy is a half-baked sociopolitical ideology and a semi-exciting thriller that, once again, lacks character and a solid spine.