MAKING A KILLING

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John Wick came out in the US last October but it’s taken a few months to come over here. Keanu Reeves plays the eponymous hitman who decides to get revenge on the son of the Russian mafia godfather when he takes everything from him. Very much in the Taken mould, John Wick is a straight action revenge film with support from Willem DeFoe as Wick’s fellow assassin Marcus but what lifts it is the fact that visually it is very impressive. On a large cinema screen, John Wick looks incredible. The script is very silly indeed and Reeves spends much of the film dispatching people in incredibly over-the-top fashion but director Chad Stahelski does have a very visual flair for the dramatic. I don’t know if this is a new direction for Reeves whose career has taken a rather forgettable turn over the past few years but John Wick is a decent slice of 100 minutes of action with enough visual flourish that you won’t be bored while you’re watching it and it doesn’t take itself seriously so tonally it mostly works too. By means a work of genius, there is still something perversely entertaining about the whole proceedings…

RUNNING OUT OF STEAM

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Liam Neeson has become the slightly past-it Hollywood action hero over the last few years. It started with Taken and since then, he has starred in a catalog of forgettable films. Run All Night is the latest in this long line. Neeson plays burnt out Irish pitman Jimmy Conlon, who is forced to choose here his allegiances lie, with his estranged son Mike (Joel Kinnaman) or his lifelong friend Irish gangster Sean Maguire (played by Ed Harris). It is competent enough although much of the dialogue is beyond cheesy and there are some truly stupid action scenes peppered throughout the film. Run All Night is entertaining fare while it lasts but it’s a film that won’t even make any impact on your memory as soon as you leave the cinema. A Walk Among The Tombstones, where Neeson played Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder, which was released last year, did prove that he can still act but sadly most of the time he chooses generic action shlock like this. A real shame…

MEANER STREETS

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While the 2014 Oscars were dominated by the likes of The Imitation Game, Birdman and The Theory of Everything, Nightcrawler also hit the cinemas. Available on DVD and Blu-ray now, Nightcrawler portrays Louis Bloom (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), an LA resident with a directionless life who gets attracted to filming the underbelly of the city. He finds an affinity for capturing the horror of the crimes that are committed in the city each night and begins to sell his video footage to minor TV station manager Nina Romina (Rene Russo). But as the film progresses, we become to realise that the true horror is that Bloom’s personality mirrors the violence and the amorality of Los Angeles. Nightcrawler is also a dark commentary on the desperate nature of media as it turns out that Romina is so desperate for ratings for the minor station she works for that she is prepared to overlook things like the facts of a story. It is a brilliantly satirical film, a true work of proper cinema, director Dan Gilroy has done a wonderful job creating a very very hyper-real LA and Gyllenhaal is mesmerising as Bloom. Fans of real cinema which has something to say should check Nightcrawler out, a film which is destined to be a cult classic…