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…

ALL THINGS BEING UNEQUAL

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Denzel Washington is a very likeable actor. He usually manages to lift things that he appears in that would be rather pedestrian without him. The Equalizer, loosely based on the Edward Woodward TV show of the 1980s, reunites Washington with director Antoine Fuqua. He plays Robert McCall, a man with a very menial job but a secret past that implies that he was some sort of special forces operative. So when he gets sucked in to helping a young girl who is under the control of evil Russian gangsters, McCall is forced to call upon his previous skills. Washington is watchable as ever but The Equalizer is basically  a very conventional revenge thriller. It’s entertaining in a very over-the-top way while you are watching it but none of it stays with you once you leave the cinema. The rest of the cast are pretty forgettable including Chloe Grace Moretz as Teri, the girl who forces McCall to utilise his previous skills, and it’s also far too long (over the two hour mark). If you like Denzel Washington, then you’ll enjoy The Equalizer. But don’t come to it with particularly high expectations…