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Gone: An 'Is She Crazy, Is She Sane' Psychological Thriller
Jill (Seyfried) doesn’t have the best relationship with the police. After being kidnapped and thrown into a hole in the middle of the forest, which she luckily managed to escape from, the police refused to believe a word she said and stuck her in a mental institution. Fast forward a bit and she’s out of the loony bin, dealing with anxiety problems, carrying a gun and taking kickboxing lessons. She comes home one day from her waitressing job to find her sister gone. Convinced that the kidnapper came back for her and took Molly (Wickersham) instead, she tries to get the police to take her claims seriously, but to no avail. Left with no other choice, she takes to the streets piecing together the clues to find Molly and her kidnapper, before time runs out.
This thriller requires you to suspend your powers of logic for a while. While for the most part it tries to be more of a psychological thriller, the moments which require Jill to do some actual sleuthing are a long shot - to put it mildly. The clues she finds as to the kidnapper’s whereabouts are either absurdly simple or completely farfetched. The latter in particular are a real crime since the kidnapper keeps asserting that he kidnapped Molly to lure Jill. If his aim was truly to lure Jill, the clues he left her wouldn’t have been so discreet, random and easily overlooked.
Also, the characters are pretty shallow. The police officers are uniformly incompetent or lazy or a mixture of both. They stand around looking annoyed for the whole film. As for Jill, she’s rather strange. She fluctuates between two states: one in which she’s single-mindedly obsessed with saving her sister and the other in which she compulsively lies to everyone she meets. The first is logical and, based on her own history with the kidnapper and her relationship with Molly, highly understandable. The latter however is just plain odd. We’re never given a motive or reason for why she’s such a pathological liar and it seems rather out of character. Would somebody in her nerve-wracking situation have it in them to lie so well, or keep their numerous stories straight for that matter? We’re told that Jill stuck to her story for the entire time that she was locked up in hospital. Would somebody who wouldn’t tell a fib to get out of a mental hospital become a chronic liar?
In addition to being a liar, the film also keeps trying to push the possibility that Jill isn’t really all there in the head, though seeing as it’s Jill’s word against that of the useless police force, the idea never really registers the way it should in order to give the film a decent psychological bend and keep the viewers guessing.
Despite its inconsistencies, Gone manages to be a decent, light thriller until the ending which derails the film completely. It’s not innovative and the film is very basic despite the attempt to give it depth. However, it’s rather fast paced and Seyfried makes for a very watchable heroine, even if her character makes little sense and is unworthy of her talent.
Disappointingly cartoonish and almost unbearable to sit-through, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Nine Lives - the Wild, Wild West director sinks to a new low here - is just as dreadful as its trailer suggest. The story - shockingly credited to a total of five screenwriters - is lethargic and uninteresting with Sonnefeld’s inability to ignite some much-needed energy or thematic effects into the mix, clearl throughout the entire ordeal.
The story is centred on Tom Brand (Spacey); an outspoken and a hot-headed New York real estate kingpin who is currently devoting all of his hours to putting the finalising touches on the largest skyscraper the world has ever seen. Working alongside his son David (Amell), Tom is a workaholic and his long working hours tend to keep him away from spending more time with his second wife, Lara (Garner), and their daughter, Rebecca (Weissman).
In an attempt to make up for missing out on his daughter’s eleventh birthday, Tom decides to buy her a cat from a mysterious pet shop owner named Felix (Walken). Picking out Mr. Fuzzypants as the gift, things take a turn for the wacky when, Tom falls off a roof and through a glass wall, losing consciousness in the process. Miraculously, he survives the fall but, when he awakes, Tom realises he’s trapped inside the body of Mr. Fuzzypants.
It’s seemingly hard to get excited or find anything nice to say about this latest talking-pet-family comedy that, considering its poorly constructed script and even worse special effects - seventy percent of the movie was entirely computer generated - seems lazy and uninterested in telling any kind of story to begin with. What’s even more surprising about Nine Lives is that it’s produced by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp - the production company behind hits like Taken, The Transporter and Lucy - making you wonder what possessed them to take on the story of a human trapped inside a body of a feline in the first place. It just doesn’t make sense.
It’s not entirely surprising, though, that Spacey was chosen to play Mr Fuzzypants, with the Oscar winner and House of Cards star’s alluring yet coldly indifferent voice standing in as the perfect match for the role of the cat. However, thanks to a long-series of bad jokes - which of course include plenty of poop gags - lame dialogue and a script that can’t seem to come into its own, Nine Lives has racked up enough points to be nominated as one of the worst films of 2016.
Mechanic: Resurrection, an unexpected sequel to 2011’s The Mechanic - a remake of the 1972 original which didn’t quite receive glowing reviews to begin with - offers the right kind of platform for Jason Statham’s already well established and very specific brand of action. However, while there are genuine moments of thrills to be had, Mechanic: Resurrection’s needlessly complicated and, at times, ridiculous storyline does get a little heavy-handed, turning the story into a relatively entertaining but helplessly cheesy action romp.
The story introduces us to Arthur Bishop (Statham); a retired contract killer who has decided to fall off the grid and live out a relatively quiet life in Brazil. However, his peaceful existence is soon disrupted when a group of associates, sent by his long-time enemy and prominent arms dealer Riah Craine (Hazeldine), threaten to uncover his location to the people who presume him dead unless he agrees to perform three hit jobs for Craine.
Managing to escape, Arthur flees to his home in Thailand where he soon comes across Gina (Alba), whom he manages to save from the hands of her abusive boyfriend, Frank (Quintavalle). Naturally, the two are quick to fall in love, but their happy union is soon upset when Gina is kidnapped and taken hostage by Craine, leaving Bishop no choice but to accept the three contract kills which he is to make look like accidents.
Just how much you will enjoy this latest Statham-extravaganza solely depends on how much love you have for the man himself. As expected, the forty-nine-year-old star is reliable as ever and completely devoted to the action stunts required and even though there is nothing new on offer – we’ve seen him do this stuff before - he still manages to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his co-stars who are either given very little to do - we’re looking at you Ms. Alba - or don’t know how to handle the material given - see Hazeldine as the bland villain.
In terms of story itself, it takes a little bit time for the action to get rolling and while audiences will probably get a kick out of the various action set pieces and dangerous situations that Bishop finds himself in the plot, scripted by Phillip Shelby and Tony Mosher, boasts a certain degree of absurdity which might be difficult to swallow. Additionally, the romance between Statham and Alba feels forced and when things go awry, it’s difficult to become fully connected with the situation and the stakes.
All in all, Mechanic: Resurrection is a relatively fun, but by-the-numbers Statham action flick which is capable of offering a good time, but only if you go in knowing what to expect.