LONDON HEIST

3.5 out of 10

Release date: 17th July 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: Mark McQueen (Devil’s Playground)

Cast: Craig Fairbrass, James Cosmo, Nathalie Cox, Mem Ferda, Roland Manookian, Tony Denham, Eddie Webber, George Russo, Katie Clarkson-Hill, Frankie Fairbrass, Eileen Nicholas, with Nick Moran and Steven Berkoff

Writer: Craig Fairbrass and Chris Regan

Trailer: LONDON HEIST

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Most films like London Heist follow a fairly uniform plot outline – the heist, the double-cross, the kidnapped loved one, the rescue, the revenge.  Craig Fairbrass’ (BULA QUO!) latest doesn’t deviate one iota from this template which is a shame because the director, Mark McQueen has vastly improved as a director since his debut Devil’s Playground, a movie where zombies could do parkour. What compounds the plot unoriginality is the lack of imagination when it came to casting it. James Cosmo (TRAINSPOTTING) plays his third devious mobster in a row,  a virtually identical role to his hood in The Eliminators, and not much of a stretch from Breakdown (which London Heist strongly resembles too). It also features Tony Denham (THE FOOTBALL FACTORY), Eddie Webber (THE FIRM) and Mem Ferda (THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE) in roles they’ve all played 15 times before. How many times can we watch the same grizzled character actors play cops and robbers? Even Steven Berkoff (DECADENCE) turns up as the doomed gangster relative he did a minute ago in We Still Kill The Old Way. Except it looks like his scenes here have been cobbled together from out-takes as they are pretty incoherent within the rote story framework. Nice to see Roland Manookian (GOODBYE CHARLIE BRIGHT) after his long vacation though, in a boring supporting role. So what happens?

Criag Fairbrass plays bank robber supreme, Jack Creegan who’s just pulled off the last job with his gang. But sadly his Dad gets murdered and his money gets nicked by persons unknown. The trail leads Creegan to Marbella (why isn’t this called London Heist when most of it is set in Spain?). He meets up with his father’s old partner in crime. Etc, etc. It’s as if Craig Fairbrass who also co-wrote realised that the plot wasn’t complicated enough, so he throws in an Essex gangster homage to The Empire Strikes Back near the ending. Somehow, Fairbrass’ last film Breakdown seemed to work and gave him a bit of real acting to do and it was a nice change to see him shine in a role with a dose of sincerity. He strives for the same results here but the story and script this time trip him up. However, on the plus side, after all the mad cap running around and stupidity, the ending is well-shot, nicely scored and seems to be from a much better film. Meanwhile, we learn that lear jets can fly from Essex to the South of Spain faster than James Cosmo can search a two-storey villa. We also learn that lithe, fit young women can’t outrun really overweight gangsters as well, and security guards in Spain take ages to walk through a doorway into the next room.  So funny editing and timescales aside, this deserved to be better. It wasn’t a rush job as it seemed to take two years to make, and the cinematography, score, action, stunts and fight choreography are all spot on and competent. It’s just feels so unloved and robbed of a single shred of originality.

3.5 out 10 – Competent if boring botched bank heist thriller that experiments with altering time-space-dimension through bad editing. Boring cast playing the same game with watered down results.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

LOST IN LONDON

6 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 17th January 2017 (Broadcast Live as it was filmed into cinemas)

Director: Woody Harrelson

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Eleanor Matsuura, Martin McCann, Peter Ferdinando, Zrinka Cvitesic, Ricky Champ, David Mumeni, David Avery, Dominic Hughes, Ade Oyefeso, with Willie Nelson and Owen Wilson

Featured extras: Daniel Radcliffe, Edward Norton, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Biel, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lawrence, and Ted Danson

Writer: Woody Harrelson / cast

Trailer:

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Woody Harrelson: Star Wars – Han Solo, War for Planet of the Apes, Wilson, Now You See Me 2, The Hunger Games – Mockingjay 2, Mockingjay, True Detective (TV), Out Of The Furnace, The Hunger Games 2, Now You See Me, The Hunger Games, Rampart, Friends With Benefits, 2012, Zombieland, The Messenger, Seven Pounds, No Country For Old Men, A Scanner Darkly, North Country, After The Sunset, She Hate Me, Anger Management, Play It To The Bone, EdTV, The Hi-Lo Country, The Thin Red Line, Palmetto, Wag The Dog, Welcome To Sarajevo, The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Kingpin, the Sunchaser, Money Train, Natural Born Killers, The Cowboy Way, Indecent Proposal, White Men Can’t Jump, Doc Hollywood, L.A. Story, Cheers (TV), Wildcats
  • Eleanor Matsuura: Justice League, Wonder Woman, Burn Burn Burn, Cuffs (TV), DaVinci’s Demons (TV), Spooks – The Greater Good, Blood Moon
  • Martin McCann: Maze, The Rezort, The Survivalist, X+Y, ’71, Titanic (TV), Shadow Dancer, Killing Bono, The Pacific (TV)
  • Peter Ferdinando: Blue Iguana, Tommy’s Honour, King Arthur – Legend of the Sword, Ghost In The Shell (2017), High-Rise,, Hyena, Starred Up, A Field In England, Turnout, Snow White and The Huntsman, Tony
  • Zrinka Cvitesic: London Spy (TV)
  • Ricky Champ: Youngers (TV)
  • David Mumeni: Noble
  • David Avery: The Night Manager (TV), Kill Your Friends, Starred Up, KickOff, Fit
  • Ade Oyefeso: Gap Year (TV), Youngers (TV)
  • Willie Nelson: Zoolander 2, Swing Vote, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Big Bounce, Austin Powers 2, Wag The Dog
  • Owen Wilson: Cars 3 (voice), Zoolander 2, No Escape (2015), Night At The Museum 3, Inherent Vice, She’s Funny That Way, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Internship, Cars 2 (voice), Midnight In Paris, Meet The Parents 3, Hall Pass, Fantastic Mr Fox (voice), Night at The Museum 2, Marley & Me, Drillbit Taylor, The Darjeeling Limited, Night at The Museum, You Me and Dupree, Cars (voice), Wedding Crashers, Meet The Parents 2, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Around The World In 80 Days, Starsky & Hutch, Shanghai Noon 2, The Big Bounce, I Spy, Behind Enemy Lines, The Royal Tenenbaums, Zoolander, Meet The Parents, Shanghai Noon, The Haunting (1999), Breakfast of Champions, Permanent Midnight, Armageddon, Anaconda, Bottle Rocket
  • Daniel Radcliffe: Swiss Army Man, Imperium, Now You See Me 2, Victor Frankenstein, Horns, The F Word, The Woman In Black, Kill Your Darlings, A Young Doctor’s Notebook (TV), Harry Potter 1 – 8, The December Boys, The Tailor Of Panama
  • Edward Norton: Isle of Dogs  (2018)(voice), Collateral Beauty, Sausage Party (voice), The Grand Budapest Hotel, Bourne 5, Moonrise Kingdom, The Invention of Lying, Pride and Glory, The Incredible Hulk, The Painted Veil, The Illusionist, Down In teh Valley, Kingdom of Heaven, The Italian Job (2003), 25th Hour, Red Dragon, Frida, Death To Smoochy,  The Score, Keeping The Faith, Fight Club, American History X, Rounders, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Everyone Says I Love You, Primal Fear
  • Matthew McConaughey: The Dark Tower, The Sea of Trees, Gold, The Free State of Jones, Interstellar, True Detective (TV), The Wolf of Wall Street, The Dallas Buyers’ Club, Mud, The Paperboy, Eastbound & Down (TV), Bernie, Killer Joe, The Lincoln Lawyer, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Tropic Thunder, Fool’s Gold, We Are Marshall, Failure To Launch, Two For The Money, Sahara, How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days, Reign of Fire, Frailty, The Wedding Planner, U-571, Edtv, The Newton Boys, Amistad, Larger Than Life, A Time To Kill, Lone Star, Boys On The Side, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4, Angels In The Outfield, Dazed and Confused
  • Jessica Biel: Playing For Keeps, Hitchcock, Total Recall (2012), The Tall Man, The A-Team, Valentine’s Day, Easy Virtue, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Next (2007), The Illusionist, Elizabethtown, Stealth, Blade 3, Cellular, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Rules of Engagement, Ulee’s Gold
  • Justin Timberlake: Trolls 2 (voice), Trolls (voice), Runner Runner, Inside Llewyn Davis, Trouble With The Curve, In Time, Friends With Benefits, Bad Teachers, Yogi The Bear (voice), The Social Network, The Love Guru, Shrek 3 (voice), Black Snake Moan, Southland Tales, Alpha Dog, Edison
  • Jennifer Lawrence: X-Men 7, Passengers (2016), X-Men 6, Joy, Hunger Games 4, Hunger Games 3, X-Men 5, American Hustle, House at the End of the Street, Hunger Games 2, Hunger Games.  X-Men 4, The Beaver, Like Crazy, Winter’s Bone
  • Ted Danson: Curb Your Enthusiasm (TV), CSI (TV), Fargo (TV), Ted, Big Miracle, Saving Private Ryan, Loch Ness, Getting Even With Dad, Made In America, Cheers (TV), Three Men and Baby 2, Dad, Cousins, She’s Having a Baby, Three Men and a Baby, Body Heat, The Onion Field

THE LESSON

6 out of 10

Release date: 29th February 2016 (DVD premiere)

Director: Ruth Platt

Cast: Robert Hands, Evan Bendall, Michaela Prchalova, Rory Coltart, Tom Cox, Dolya Gavanski, Joshua Wedge and Charlotte Croft

Writer: Ruth Platt

Trailer:THE LESSON

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This is an interesting film. This gorno isn’t perfect, but it has got ambition and the confidence and an ounce of intelligence to get some rather good points across. In a way The Lesson teaches the viewer a thing or two about going into films like this with low expectations. This potentially rote little splatter flick turned out to be the product of a filmmaker that is committed to squirrelling an effective little allegory in the back way. It’s an allegory but I won’t tell you what for, but its nice that someone has really thought about the job at hand for once, instead of delivering yet another found-footage bore.

Well shot and directed by first timer Ruth Platt, this simple story tells of two brothers – the eldest Jake (TOM COX) who goes to work, whilst Fin (EVAN BENDALL) is still at high school age. Tom’s polish girlfriend Mia (MICHAELA PRCHALOVA) also lives with them in their council estate house.  Fin hangs with bad company at school, and along with his best mate Joel (RORY COLTART) makes their English teacher’s Mr Gale (ROBERT HANDS  – EASTENDERS) life a living hell. After a particularly bad day Gale, takes the two lads hostage and gives them both a lesson they’ll never forget.

The Lesson takes its time establishing the characters well-enough that although Fin is a turd, we know why he acts the way he does at school. It’s strange not to position the teacher as a figure of sympathy, rather its Fin who becomes this. Gale holds all the cards as he tests the two boys on their knowledge of English literature whilst doling out a set of grisly forfeits. Gale is presented as more complex too, he gets picked on, on a particularly bad day, so the fact that he snaps is given some weight. The only innocent in the story is Mia. She clearly prefers the younger brother’s personality, but is beholden to Jake because he has given her sanctuary from her own very real problems. So when Mia goes out to search for the missing Fin and Joel, Jake takes exception. It portrays most of the characters as bottom feeders, who are seen as soft for any act of kindness. Any lightness is crushed. The main characters are given flesh and blood roles, it’s just the supporting characters (who are mercifully few) who haven’t been coloured in.

The story spends time to build a good character dynamic, so it’s actually a shame that this turns into a gory horror spree at all, as it could have been something like The Goob or Dead Man’s Shoes. But even when it does it still works, all though it’s a little bit cartoonish at times. Sadly some of the lead performers are a touch wooden and the unknown cast, who have been gifted a half-decent script slip and slide. Uneven performances render the film unconvincing on occasion and because of this fact, the film suffers and becomes a missed opportunity. Better performers would have made this one to recommend. But as I said, largely it works. Another down point is the unbelievable consequence that takes place that results with Mia tracking down the boys’ whereabouts. Other wise The Lesson had a good ending and a satisfying coda. As downbeat as The Lesson is, is that its a story of greys, no black and whites. The director has a nice ear for a soundtrack, and a good eye for a shot, so hopefully we’ll see something else from her again one day.

6 out of 10 – Thoughtful and impressive gorno, which benefits from a good plot, script and several committed performances give this the extra gusto to make it way above average for this kind of thing.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Robert Hands: Eastenders (TV), The House of Eliott (TV), Grange Hill (TV)

THE LEVELLING

8 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 12th M                                                           7

Director: Hope Dickson Leach

Cast: Ellie Kendrick, David Troughton, Jack Holden, Joe Attewell, and Joe Blakemore

Writer: Hope Dickson Leach

Trailer: THE LEVELLING

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Ellie Kendrick: Game of Thrones (TV), Whisky Galore (2017), Cheerful Weather For The Wedding , An Education, Diary of Anne Frank (TV)(2009)
  • David Troughton: ChickLit, Nina Forever, The Interceptor (TV), New Tricks (TV), Casualty 1909 (TV), Casualty 1907 (TV), Captain Jack, Bonjour la Classe (TV), The Chain, Wings (TV), David Copperfield (1975)(TV), Dr Who (TV)
Posted in L.

LONDON TOWN

3.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 11th October 2016 (DVD premiere)

Director: Derrick Borte (The Joneses)

Cast: Daniel Huttlestone, Dougray Scott, Nell Williams, Natascha McElhone, Anya McKenna-Bruce, Samuel Robertson, Jack Morris with Tom Hughes and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

Writer: Matt Boyd & Sonya Gildea

Trailer: LONDON TOWN

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A wishful-thinking fantasy that throws real-life famous people into a fictional brush with the ordinary is what London Town is. We’ve been here with The Committments and Hear My Song.  Anonymous non-famous person has a brush with fame and is star-struck when fame reaches out and pats them on the head. This time it’s Joe Strummer of The Clash (JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3) turn to get the re-imagining. He cameos in a tale of rote derring do, which sees Shay (DANIEL HUTTLESTONE – LES MISERABLES) as 15 year old who has a brush with the late 70s punk-scene when he runs into Vivian (NELL WILLIAMS) and follows her to some gigs and a record shop that stand in for London. Meanwhile he has to look after his 6 year old sister whilst his taxi-driver/piano shop owner father (DOUGRAY SCOTT – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2) recovers in hospital after a bad accident. Meanwhile, he becomes obsessed with his errant mother played by Natascha McElhone (SOLARIS) who lives down in London in a squat with a bunch of artists, hippies, and punks. She’s a bad mother who falls from mythical status to reprobate in a few predictable scenes.

And that’s London Town’s problem is it’s lack of authenticity. Beyond a good but empty performance from Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, this coming of age tale doesn’t miss a single cliched beat. The dialogue is too modern, people never spoke like that back in the 1980s, I was there. TV exec demands or lazy writing it still adds to the annoying pile of unimaginative story turns this takes. It lacks charm despite the best efforts of the young lead, Daniel Huttlestone, who was so good as Gavroche in Les Miserables. Nell Williams is rather flat as the punk kid with a secret, so the love affair has no spark. Dougray Scott scraps over whatever’s left but is largely sidelined in a slim role in a film full of wax dummies. The climax where Shay puts on a concert to save his dad’s shop – advertising Strummer as the headliner is dead-eyed and rushed. The scene has no spirit or life, and is over before it starts. I bored the law and bore won.

3.5 out of 10 – It’s an exercise in cookie-cutter filmmaking for people who don’t like originality in their films. A trip down memory lane for those that weren’t there. Punk purists would hate it. I bored the law and bore won.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Daniel Huttlestone: The Lost City of Z, Into the Woods, Les Miserables (2013)
  • Dougray Scott: The Rezort, Snatch (TV), Fear The Walking Dead (TV), Taken 3, Tiger House, The Last Passenger, Dr Who (TV), Death Race 3, A Thousand Kisses Deep, My Week With Marilyn, Love’s Kitchen, United, New Town Killers, Hitman, Desperate Housewives (TV), Dark Water, One Last Chance, To Kill a King, Ripley’s Game, Enigma, Mission Impossible 2, Gregory’s Girl 2, This Year’s Love, Ever After, Deep Impact, Another 9.5 Weeks, Twin Town, The Crow Road (TV), Soldier Soldier (TV)
  • Natascha McElhone: Mr Church, Believe, The Sea, Californication (TV), Romeo & Juliet (2014), The Kid (2010), Big Nothing, Guy X, Ladies In Lavendar, Solaris (2012), feardotcom, Killing Me Softly, Love’s Labours Lost, Ronin, The Truman Show, Miss Dalloway, The Devil’s Own, Surviving Picasso
  • Samuel Robertson: The Legend of Barney Thompson
  • Tom Hughes: Dare To Be Wild, 8 Minutes Idle, I Am SoldierAbout Time, Cemetery JunctionSex & Drugs & Rock-N-Roll
  • Jonathan Rhys-Meyers: Vikings (TV), Stonewall, The Mortal Instruments, Albert Nobbs, The Tudors (TV), From Paris With Love, August Rush, Mission Impossible 3, Match Point, Alexander, Vanity Fair (2004), I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Octane, Bend It Like Beckham, Prozac Nation, Ride With The Devil, Titus, The Loss of Sexual Innocence, The Governess, The Tribe, Velvet Goldmine, The Disappearance of Finbar

 

THE LAST SCOUT

5 out of 10

Release date: TBC in UK

Director: Simon Phillips (GBH)

Cast: Blaine Gray, Rebecca Ferdinando, Deji LaRay, Simon Phillips, Rita Ramnani, Paul Thomas Arnold, Mercedes Synodis, Kevin Chua, John Chang with Petra Bryant and Peter Woodward

Writer: Paul Tanter

Trailer: THE LAST SCOUT

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Those waiting for Hooligans in Space or Essex Astronauts will have to wait a bit longer. Filmmaker enfants awfulles: Simon Phillips and Paul Tanter, have delivered a grown-up (mature not porno) attempt at movie entertainment and I am happy to report that this is largely enjoyable, as it takes more risks and scores more hits than misses. At times, some concepts and ideas fall wide of the mark, but this largely straight-faced sci-fi thriller is a good place holder until the big boys like Alien 5 and Life arrive. In a word, it commits minor crimes but no atrocities.

The characters are largely ciphers, but are invested with some warmth and conviction by a varied cast of unknowns and Brit-pic heroes. Some of the crew are stock-types but at least some attempt has been made to flesh them out. How these guys are humanity’s last hope is anybody’s guess though.  As we know, the training for the rigours of life and the isolation of space travel take years of training for and the psychometric testing is intense, so half of these loonies wouldn’t have been let within three planets of an airlock. Seven years into a mission to secure the future of humanity when the Earth’s population is decimated by a nuclear war, The Pegasus is one of the last remaining space ships on a mission to find a habital planet – Interstellar-style.  The shipmates consist of go-to characters like the doomed captain (BLAINE GRAY – ABDUCTED) who is haunted by the death of his wife, who was on another scout ship who’s mission failed<?>, yet he’s a level-headed type who the crew generally look up to for answers. There’s the chirpy engineer, a winsome Simon Phillips (STAGGER), who also directs the movie this time as opposed to producing partner Paul Tanter (who wrote the script). Phillips has the plum role and rarely grates beyond an excrutiating opening dialogue with Space Cowboy pilot Mike (DEJI DELARAY – ABDUCTED), about who loves the ship the most and lost screws (yes not shags – real screws). We get to hear this exchange twice, but no spoilers allowed! Rebecca Ferdinando (HE WHO DARES) and Rita Raminani (HEDDA GABBLER) have strong roles as the ships pilot and doctor, both share some good moments and they frequently come to the fore. More confusing, are the prickly characters; terminally ill, passenger (his role is unclear) Gerry (PAUL THOMAS ARNOLD) would have been blasted out into space by the crew after an hour or two let alone seven years. He is a xenophobic, selfish liability that Arnold does wonders with as  his motivations are thin and his reason for being there seems to be to add friction to the dynamic and nothing else – a dodgy role saved by good acting. More worrying is the usually dependable Peter Woodward (SHAME THE DEVIL) who runs into strife in a role that’s little more than a scribble in the margins – he just has to be an arsehole with an important job, but he hams it up a little too much as if he’s in a competition.  Acting awards go to Gray and LaRay for their effortless turns . Phillips is also better than he’s been in his Hooligan comedies. So he can file this with his cameo in The Disappearance of Lenka Wood and his heist botching doofus in Dangerous Mind of a Hooligan.

The special effects aren’t very special, and to mention this seems like a pointless ‘pop’ at the makers but whilst you wouldn’t send humanity’s last hope into space in a set that looks like the Laser Quest in Slough circa 1993, it’s the acting, the story and some spirited acting which will keep you on board until the end.

PS: How did they afford Morgan Freeman to the do the voice over intro…? (nice impression Paul! or was it Simon?)

5 out of 10 – A good diversion, and a welcome addition to the men/women on a mission through space cannon. Good performances rescue this from the dustbin and it is lightyears better than the Essex hardmen DVDs that hog space usually reserved for tampons at Tesco.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?